Picture this: You have your best meeting to date with your team. You’re super excited about all the ideas everyone brought to the table and how you’ve all decided you’ll act on them. But then, days – no, weeks – go by without action or results. Where did it all go wrong?
We’ll wager a guess: You didn’t properly follow through on your meeting. Neglecting to take key next steps after your meetings is a common reason why organizations see a gap between their discussions and what comes after. Below is a list of seven important meeting next steps you should take after every meeting to make the most of the occasion.
8 meeting next steps
The work doesn’t end when the meeting does. If anything, running effective meetings means following up on them immediately afterward – and then continuously, until all action items are complete. Below are all the steps you should take after your meetings.
- Send out a meeting recap
- Email the meeting notes
- Plan your next steps
- Start preparing your next meeting agenda
- Schedule the next meeting
- Properly store all your meeting documents
- Seek feedback on your meeting
- Check in on action items
1 Send out a meeting recap
Quite a lot can emerge from good meetings – productive conversations, new ideas to try, additional tasks on everyone’s list. It can all be a lot to remember, which is why you should send a meeting recap afterward.
Your recap should summarize new to-do-list items for the team and clearly state which team members must handle which tasks. These new action items should include deadlines. Your recap should also include a general overview of what happened at the meeting, especially as it pertains to your meeting agenda items. You should send this recap as soon as possible after your meeting – and that’s not the only thing you should send right away.
Easy to reference
Meeting notes can easily be misplaced. Use a tool like Fellow to have all your meeting notes in one place!
2 Email the meeting notes (or meeting minutes) to the team
Where a recap provides a top-level overview of what just happened, meeting notes or meeting minutes give your team a detailed rundown of the proceedings. Both are documents you create in real-time during the meeting, so they’re extremely accurate and precise. Meeting minutes are literally second-by-second replays of the whole affair – they’re basically transcripts and records of everything said and done.
Sending meeting minutes or notes after your meetings can help your team answer any questions that your recap might raise. Instead of your team asking you these questions, they can simply look through the meeting records to find the answers they need. That saves them an email – and you the time involved in reading it.
3 Plan your next steps
With your meeting notes and recap fresh on your mind, you’re in an especially great mindstate to make a plan of attack for what’s next. If you and your team discussed how to approach next week’s big, stressful client meeting, write out your own notes and plan. Jot down any questions or needs that remain and decide how you’ll address these concerns. Congrats – your action plan is pretty much in place!
4 Start preparing your next meeting agenda
The time right after a meeting is exactly when you should start work on the next meeting’s agenda. You’ll have a fresh, clear memory of any new issues that emerged or any topics for which you didn’t quite have the time.
This all should be the foundation of your next meeting agenda. Build that foundation now, then keep adding to your agenda as more items arise for discussion. Be sure to share the in-progress agenda with your team so everyone can contribute.
5 Schedule the next meeting
Maybe your final agenda item was scheduling your next team meeting – if so, then great, skip this step! But if not, getting everyone’s attention about the next meeting is still much easier right after your meeting than at other times. You can either decide the date and time yourself or request that team members share their availability. Once you have a time and date that works for most (ideally, all) people involved, mark it down and invite everyone.
6 Properly store all your meeting documents
After you take all the above steps, you should file all your meeting documents in the appropriate place. Documents to file include your meeting agenda, notes, minutes, and any other written items relevant to the meeting.
You should store these files in a clearly named, easily findable folder in your document management platform. One approach could be creating a “meeting documents” folder with subfolders that each indicate a meeting’s date and time. You can store the documents for each meeting in the appropriate folder. Each file’s name should clearly state whether it’s the meeting agenda, minutes, notes, or something else.
7 Seek feedback on your meeting
The time right after a meeting is often when team members will have the clearest thoughts about how things went. It’s exactly the right time to ask: What went well about this meeting? What could we do better next time?
Seeking this peer feedback when it’s most freshly available can help you plan better meetings in the near future. Do it right, and eventually, the only feedback you’ll hear might be, “That was great.”
8 Check in on action items
Meeting action items are the very essence of meeting next steps: They’re tasks that emerge from your team conversations. For example, a meeting about developing a new logo could make you all realize you need to learn more about color psychology. You could task your head of marketing with creating a presentation about color psychology for the whole team to discuss at your next meeting.
But how can you know whether your head of marketing is actually working on that presentation? The answer is simple: Check in on them. Ask them about their progress a couple of times per week, and make it clear that you’re willing to help. These periodic check-ins can keep your team accountable for any tasks assigned to them during your meetings.
Why is it important to follow up after a meeting?
It’s easy to assume that discussing ideas and action items at a meeting means your team will act on them. In reality, it’s not quite that simple. For starters, some people retain knowledge and build task lists better on paper than via conversation. Other people might have all the intent in the world to do everything they agreed to but find themselves bogged down with other tasks. Following up with everyone after your meetings minimizes these negative outcomes.
The follow-up process begins with the top-level recap you share immediately after your meeting. This recap keeps the key takeaways fresh on everyone’s minds. Sending out all your meeting notes helps too, as does taking your own individual steps afterward. As long as you keep the conversation still going after the meeting – both for yourself and others – you’re doing it right.
The before and after of meetings
Meeting next steps are easier to take when you’ve built and shared an effective meeting agenda, taken thorough meeting notes, and assigned clear action items. That’s all much easier with Fellow, which handles the before, during, and after of all your meetings. With Fellow’s robust action item suite and tools for collaborative agenda-building and notetaking, taking all your meeting next steps becomes that much easier.