Following up effectively after a meeting can ensure that the decisions made and ideas generated during the meeting get put into action. To follow up, identify next steps, communicate them to meeting participants and stakeholders, and evaluate the meeting’s effectiveness.
Identify next steps
Identifying next steps provides closure and a sense of accomplishment and progress. It also alerts all stakeholders about key decisions, ensures that everyone has heard the same information, and helps you prepare the follow-up you’ll send out after the meeting.
To identify next steps, consider the following:
- What ? What decisions and outcomes came from the meeting? What tasks need to be done as a result of the meeting? To answer these questions, refer to the points recorded on the flip chart or whiteboard, and the notes you or the scribe took during the meeting.
- Who? Who has responsibility for these tasks that must be done after the meeting? Meeting participants who volunteered to undertake specific actions during the meeting, in front of other participants, will be more likely to complete those tasks.
- When? When must the tasks be completed? Be realistic about the dates. That will help ensure that tasks actually get carried out.
For some types of meetings, you’ll need to identify additional items to go in your follow-up communication. For example, for a problem-solving meeting, you may also want to identify:
- How the problem was defined
- How it was analyzed
- Which alternatives were discussed
- What the criteria were for deciding on a solution
- What the final decision was
- Who will follow up and by when
- What the expected outcome is once the solution is implemented
If at all possible, make your follow-up communication, what happened at the meeting, who’s doing what and by when and as concise as possible. Craft it in clear, accessible terms, so someone who wasn’t there can understand what happened.
Make sure your follow-up covers:
- Who attended (Attendees list)
- What the meeting objectives were (Objective)
- Key topics discussed and decisions made (Key summaries)
- Next steps (Way forward)
- Date of any needed subsequent meeting or follow-up (Timeline)
- A thank-you to those who participated (Note of appreciation)
Send the follow-up to all meeting participants and any stakeholders who couldn’t be at the meeting but need to be informed.
Determine whether your meeting was effective by judging its results. Ask yourself:
- Were the appropriate people there?
- Did most people participate?
- Did the group work well together?
- Did the meeting accomplish its objective(s)?
- Were participants’ evaluations of the meeting positive?
If you can answer “Yes” to these questions, congratulate yourself because getting a meeting to go right is hard work.