“The palest ink is better than the best memory.” - Chinese proverb
Let’s run through a common scenario: You have a team meeting to brainstorm ideas for an upcoming project. You and your teammates come up with a variety of great ideas and solutions and leave the meeting feel excited for the plan you’ve all come up with for the project. The team reconvenes a week later and very little seems to have been completed. Does this sound familiar?
We tend to leave productive meetings feeling a large sense of momentum and eagerness to get a project started and completed. However, it’s easy to de-prioritize your project tasks if action isn’t taken to set your project in motion. In this blog we’ll go over steps on the three things that should be done immediately after every meeting to help you get things done!
Meeting recaps are essential for any meeting. They usually include a list of action items that need to be taken along with a summary of important topics and discussions mentioned. Usually I like to list the action items at the top of the meeting recap so that these action items are prominent when being viewed by others. If multiple teams are involved in your meeting, separate each teams’ action items so that it’s easy to sort and identify the actions each team needs to take.
Notes on important items that were discussed are just as important as the action items - these will help you and your teammates summarize the points that were discussed in the meeting. We wouldn’t advise drafting a transcript for your call notes - just list out the important points that were mentioned in your meeting, even if no action needs to be taken. Sharing written notes also allows others to provide input on some of the talking points or action items that were discussed and sets the record for future reference.
This step is essential to assign ownership of project tasks to individuals. Often times in a group setting the expectation of who is to take responsibility of tasks is unclear. Delegate each task. Do not fall into the trap of assuming that individuals in a group setting will automatically assume responsibility of action items - each person may already feel like their workload is high or they may not be sure if they are the right person to complete a task. Delegate and confirm who is doing what. We like to quickly recap our notes during the call to verify the stakeholders and executors of a task. It’s also important to encourage feedback from team members if they determine they do not have the bandwidth to work on their delegated assignments.
A large contributing factor to getting tasks completed is to set a deadline for tasks. Once there is a clear due date for an assignment then team members can assess the requirements for the task, determine whether they have a reasonable amount of time to complete the task given their current workload, and include the new assignment in their work queue.
You may feel that the smaller tasks do not need a deadline as they can be completed rather quickly. If this is the case, either complete the task and mark it as finished or assign it a due date of the same day the meeting had occurred. It’s easy to overlook the smallest tasks when there is no set deadline for it!
Note that when it comes to delegating tasks and assigning deadline, it is important to encourage others to voice their opinion on whether or not the deadline is feasible based on their workload. This helps set realistic expectations on your task delivery date. Understand that some assignments allow for flexibility in when they need to be completed, whereas others are urgent enough to have a due date set in stone.
If this is your first time trying these steps after a meeting, be sure to repeat this practice to habituate yourself into taking and sending call summaries, delegating tasks and setting deadlines for each task, no matter how small the task is. Once you have practiced these steps multiple times, much of these steps will start to feel automatic after every meeting. Share these methods with your teammates and soon enough you’ll be completing your projects by their deadlines with ease!