Making the Most of Meeting Follow-Up
Another day, another meeting. And chances are, you believe your time could be put to better use elsewhere.
“Meetings are usually events where minutes are kept and hours are wasted,” says Bob Losyk, author of Get A Grip! Overcoming Stress and Thriving in the Workplace. “So, before you attend a meeting, make sure it’s important for you to be there in the first place.”
If you’re required to attend, make the most of it by following up effectively on the meeting’s objectives.
“The keys to successful meetings are, first, that the meeting has to be organized, and then after the meeting, you have to be organized,” emphasizes Losyk.
Obviously, the meeting leader needs to be organized. Even as a participant, though, you must first understand the purpose and mission of the meeting, and then you must be organized in order to follow through on objectives.
To do so, be sure to bring any required materials, along with your calendar so you can plan for any new tasks that could be assigned to you.
Clear your mind
It’s essential to come to meetings with your mind clear of distractions. Arriving at least five minutes early so you can relax and begin to focus on the topic can help you accomplish this.
“What’s more, if your mind begins to wander, jot down any distracting issues on a note pad, so you can deal with them later,” suggests Losyk.
If you take detailed notes, you’ll be more likely to stay focused during the meeting.
Even if someone is taking minutes, you still should take accurate notes and check them against the minutes because sometimes the minutes can be inaccurate or incomplete.
“Before you leave the room, summarize what has been said so everyone is in agreement about what has been talked about, and who’s to do what and when,” says Losyk. “Then write down any responsibilities you have, along with any deadlines you have to meet.”
Make a plan
Before leaving, you also should take a few minutes to write a detailed plan regarding your follow-up. If you proceed to your next appointment or back to your desk without one, you may forget important details.
Include the following in your plan:
Tasks you’ll need to accomplish
Obstacles that may get in your way
People you’ll need to contact or work with
Information you’ll need
Prioritize your tasks in the order they need to be done. For example, you may have to do some research before you contact someone. Next, on your calendar block out the time to work on your list.
Review your notes from the previous meeting. Then, go over your detailed plan and check off what you accomplished. If you haven’t completed all your tasks, plan time to do them. Talk with others who were at the meeting to see if they need your help.
“On the day of your next meeting, gather all your material and your calendar so you can plan for your new tasks,” says Losyk. “Get to the meeting early, relax, and clear your mind. Another meeting is about to begin, and you may be one of the few who actually has something valuable to contribute.”