We all come out of meetings with the best of intentions.  We’ve addressed whatever it is that we needed to address while in the meeting, and we’ve come up with solutions or tasks for each issue on our meeting list.  It seems sorted out, we’re hitting the ground running, and then life gets in the way.  Other meetings on different tasks are taking up space in our brain, new obligations are yanking at our attention, and more pertinent information needs addressing in the meantime.  The important tasks that we had leaving that first meeting get pushed on the back burner and somehow they fizzle out all together.  So, how do we prevent this?  Well, there are some necessary steps to take during and after every meeting to ensure that that doesn’t happen.

Take Meeting Notes

Before the meeting begins, designate someone to take meeting notes that will later be distributed.  These notes should be thorough, but concise.  The person taking the notes should go through each task as you discuss them and write down who was assigned to do exactly what (and by what time). 

From Harvard Business Review:

Distribute concise, clear notes about the meeting. Historically, minutes were like court transcriptions, capturing everything that was said during the meeting. This is not what you want. A single page will suffice for most meetings. The intent is not to re-create the discussion but to capture the key points and the specific commitments for each topic, so that non-attendees have a sense of what happened and all have a record of who will take further action.

Assign Specific Tasks and Deadlines to Individuals During Meeting

During your meeting, be sure that everyone is held accountable. People are more likely to follow through when they’ve been assigned tasks in a public setting.  You will also have these tasks and deadlines recorded so people aren’t forgetting what they are committing to. This serves as well to split up the work and make projects more manageable.

Distribute Meeting Notes

Be sure to distribute meeting notes to everyone involved in the meeting, and everyone who needs to be aware of headway made in the meeting, within 24 hours.  It’s good to follow up when people have the meeting fresh in their minds.

Follow Up on a Regular Basis (push those items back to the front burner)

Now that people have been assigned tasks and deadlines, the key is to regularly check in that everyone is meeting those deadlines.  The only way for a project to stay on track is for it to be a priority in people’s minds.  These regular follow ups require people to focus on the task.

So, give it a try during and after your next meeting.  See if there is a shift in your progress after that meeting.  Have you tried similar techniques? Have they been successful for you?  What is your go-to system for following through with things you’ve discussed in a meeting? Comment below!