Building Bridges

Re-envisioning the Meeting, Part 2 – Meet, Close, and Follow-up

In part 1 of Re-envisioning the Meeting, we looked at how to prepare for and open a meeting. Now let’s look at facilitation, meeting conclusion, and post-meeting activities.

Facilitate Actively

The facilitator must consciously strive to keep participants on task to achieve the meeting’s goals. If you’re talking about an upcoming training launch, for example, don’t spend time generating ideas for your next team development day. Participants may have tangents that they would like to explore, due to their job role or specific interest. It is the facilitator’s job to keep them focused. Using a “parking lot” can capture important topics for discussion at a later time.

While attendees may take their own notes, the meeting facilitator should as well (or assign someone to take notes), so everyone can refer back to them later. As action items are assigned during the meeting, write down each assignment, responsible party, and due date. Similarly, for key decisions that are made, document the decision and date. For recurring team meetings, you can build on these lists and check off assignments as they are completed.

Close Graciously

Summarize key points and assignments at the end of the meeting. For recurring meetings, remind attendees when the next meeting will be. And of course, thank everyone before you adjourn. Showing your appreciation for everyone’s time and participation helps motivate them to continue contributing in future meetings.

Follow Up Promptly

After the meeting, be sure to e-mail the attendees and other interested parties the meeting notes, or at least any major decisions that came from the meeting. Include the action items that need to be completed and their due dates.

Although not done often enough, it is definitely wise to ask for participant feedback to help the next meeting run even smoother. One idea: Pose a statement or two, such as “This meeting met my needs” or “I know what is expected of me prior to our next team meeting.” Ask attendees to write their level of agreement with the statement, on a scale of 1-5 where 1 is strongly disagree and 5 is highly agree, and hand in their responses. If you see a trend, you can follow up with the group to learn how to improve the meeting next time. Another idea: Ask an open-ended question, such as: “What worked really well in today’s meeting you’d like to continue?” or “What is one thing we should do differently in future meetings?”

Follow these tips, and your meeting will not only be more meaningful, but can result in greater productivity, too!