A well-prepared and carried out meeting might end up like a balloon following its encounter with a sharp pin – deflated and rather disappointing.
What often occurs is that meeting attendees leave the meeting room, and nothing happens. There are no meeting minutes distributed, or the minutes is of the kind so loosely done, that no one can tell what the next step is and who is going to take it. In other cases, the minutes is sent out so late that everyone’s work reality has simply moved on from the reality at the time of the meeting.
Ensuring a successful course of a meeting process is reliant on thorough preparation, clear execution, and an unambiguous follow-up. And it relies on maintaining momentum.
Anyone knows that invitations to meetings including a clear agenda should be in the hands of attendees allowing them time for preparation, but also close enough to the meeting as to make sense to spend preparation time straight away. The right timing increases the chances of running a good meeting with participants being well-prepared.
However, when it comes to the meeting minutes most work places face a reality of minutes distributed too late or perhaps not at all. Reality in most cases is furthermore minutes that simply account for debates and discussions but do not state the necessary subsequent actions.
Focus on the meeting minutes and consider implementing the following principles:
- Introduce meeting minutes’ deadlines
Firstly, make sure that minutes is distributed quickly following a meeting and do not hesitate to make a deadline. Whether it is four hours, a day, or two days is up to the way you conduct your business, the important thing is having a practice of minutes arriving reasonably fast and that everyone attending a meeting can rely on receiving minutes.
- Assign the next step
Make sure no one has doubts as to what the next step entails - or who is going to take the step. If anyone is to act on an assignment, what needs doing, when it needs doing, and who needs to do it must be clear.
- Make the meeting minutes searchable
The meeting minutes may be only a piece of paper holding words from a meeting that is over and done with, but you should consider it a dynamic work tool. Ideally, your meeting minutes is a document holding the answers for anyone in need of information. Even someone not having attended the meeting should be able to find something. See that you include details such as who was present, who led the meeting, what was the purpose, etc.
- Keep it short
No two meetings are the same and sometimes long minutes will be necessary. But try, for the most part, to keep minutes reasonably short, and consider leaving out some of the details that are not important for the final outcome. Every piece of information should either be relevant or be excluded.
Minutes is the ugly duckling
Finally, you may need a change of attitude. Meeting minutes often have an ugly duckling character, it is a tiresome chore following the actual important task of the meeting itself. We see this in that the person in charge of taking minutes does not make it a priority, just as an executive will often ask to have other tasks completed sooner than the minutes. This further degrades the minutes and makes it not only a boring task, but a task you will not be able to just get overwith right away.
The answer is deciding to make minutes a priority task that both the leader of the meeting, the attendees, and the secretary respects and uses as a practical tool to carry out decisions to the benefit of business productivity.