You have just finished the most interesting and efficient online meeting you have hosted so far. You feel extremely confident and positive about the outcome after the meeting. The preparation was on point. Everyone was pitching ideas and asking questions. Documents were shared and meeting management tools were used (we love them here at Drum). The attendees even laughed at your start-of-the-meeting joke (miracles do happen). It felt like the meeting ran on its own and everyone was on the same page. What could go wrong after all this excellence?
If you have ever experienced the above situation and feeling of invincibility, you might have also experienced the possible falling from the clouds to the hard concrete. What went wrong? Everyone had such a great feeling after the meeting but none of your goals were actually met. This is because you disregarded one of the three key areas of a meeting: before, during and after. The meeting doesn’t actually finish the moment you finish it. There are a number of questions every meeting host should ask after each meeting (why, how, who, what and when). We have listed examples of them below.
1. Why did the meeting occur?
There should always be a specific objective for each and every meeting. The objective will tell you and the attendees the purpose of the meeting and what it needs to accomplish. If the meeting objective is specific, purposeful and set within a realistic time frame, it is more easy for you to measure whether the meeting was successful on not. This allows you to make changes to future meeting objectives as well as prepare better for other meetings.
2. How do we move forward?
Now that the meeting is over and you have reviewed the objective, it is time to look to the future and make the necessary plans in order to meet the goals set during the meeting. Replaying an online meeting can help you revisit the objectives and the different tasks assigned. Additionally, sufficient communication after the meeting is almost as vital as during the meeting. Keeping track on the work completed so far and answering questions after a meeting is important for the sake of successful project completion.
3. Who is supposed to do what?
Part of effective meeting preparation is to set roles to each attendee for them to know what is expected of them. You shouldn’t stop there. During the meeting the attendees are most likely assigned different tasks in order to meet the desired project outcome. After the meeting your job is to keep record on what everyone is doing: are they still aware of their role. What do they need from you? What do you expect from them? and how are the tasks coming along?
4. What can go wrong?
After a great meeting the feeling of walking on clouds in inevitable. However, to prevent the huge fall back on the ground, you should prepare a Plan B (and a Plan C in case it is a big project). If you a prepared for the worse possible outcome after the meeting, you know how to act in case it becomes reality. The key element in ‘after-the-meeting’ crisis management is communication: keep everyone on loop of the situation and assign new tasks if necessary. You can also call in an emergency meeting in case the crisis can’t be solved via email.
5. When is the next meeting scheduled?
Even if there is no crisis or need for an emergency meeting after your regular meeting, scheduling a follow up meeting quickly after the meeting will guarantee efficient work. Attendees will have to prepare and work on the issues discussed in the previous meeting (prior to attending the next one). If you didn’t schedule a follow up meeting during the actual meeting, do it as soon as possible after when the topics are still fresh in everyone’s minds. However, you should give a reasonable time frame for the tasks to be completed on time for the follow up meeting.
To be prepared is one thing (one major thing for sure). But to be able to review and reflect on a meeting and its objective, roles, measure, possible mistakes and follow up meetings. You will instantly notice a huge improvement in the general efficiency of your meetings and other projects. It’s like what used to happen when you were at school: you studied hard and felt like that was all the work done. But then the exam day came and everything you learned were put into a test. Only the test results made a difference in your grade. Just like the meeting outcome makes a difference in your performance, not only the meeting itself!