Make meetings count: Don't leave without a plan of action

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Knowing how to wrap up meetings effectively could benefit many firms (image credit: istock)

Business up and down the country are daily holding meetings that take up the precious time of their staff, but are the practices that companies are currently employing delivering the best results in terms of follow-up and follow through on the items that are discussed?

Bob Frisch and Cary Greene, both partners at Boston-based consultancy the Strategic Offsites Group, told the Harvard Business Review that in many cases, meetings could be managed more effectively to help boost productivity, and they offered advice on how to achieve this aim.

Planning and carrying out proper preparation are well-known means for boosting the productivity of meetings, but when it comes to wrapping up these sessions, many companies could be missing out on some simple steps to deliver lasting results.

Confirm future expectations

When the meeting is drawing to a close, it can be tempting for all those in attendance to begin switching off and shifting their attention elsewhere.

However, to stop this from happening and to ensure everyone is fully aware of what is expected of them, the organiser should remember to follow up with an email or other form of correspondence to highlight everyone's future responsibilities.

This can be as simple as a few bullet points relating to what was discussed and who needs to do what to ensure progress is made before the next meeting, but it is an important step that should not be overlooked.

Focus on forward communication

Moreover, all those at a meeting need to be on the same page moving forward and therefore setting aside some time at the end of the session to discuss how the content of the meeting and the decisions on the day will be conveyed to others is also important.

Don't be afraid to make some topics off-limits, as many times businesses will hold meetings to begin the process of discussing a way forward in certain areas or to tackle specific issues, and it's not always suitable to release details of these meetings until plans are more fully formed.

In addition, by getting everyone on the same page in terms of how they will convey the results of the meeting, it helps to form a more cohesive message that will be spread to the rest of the company.

Gather feedback (and learn from it)

The final thing that all those organising a meeting should remember is that there is always room for improvement, and this is where garnering feedback from those that took part is essential.

By asking for opinions on how individual colleagues experienced the structure of the meeting and what areas they felt worked best and those that didn't, this important feedback can help organisers to tweak the structure in the future, ensuring there is always a focus on improved operations and achieving better results.

Businesses that are able to leverage each of the above points and incorporate them into their meetings moving forward are likely to benefit from not only more productive office get-togethers, but the ability to make their decisions come to fruition all the more efficiently.