You nailed it. You took some time pre-meeting to gather some input from the group; you provided a succinct but invaluable preread along with your focused agenda; you started on time and kept discussions on track; and people enthusiastically signed up as items were added to the robust but manageable action plan. Basically, you just led a textbook ‘great meeting.’
So, what is next? How do you build on that success, and what kinds of lasting effects can great meetings have inside your organization?
Effective meeting follow-through looks, unsurprisingly, a lot like meeting facilitation, with a focus on the three key areas you nurtured during the meeting:
Make sure you complete the meeting design you worked so hard on, which likely includes a few post-meeting steps. Polish up those meeting minutes and make them available to all potential stakeholders as soon as possible, especially if timeframes on action items are tight. There should also be some central place that meeting minutes are archived, make sure yours get included!
You also want to communicate the findings of your meeting evaluation (yes, you should be evaluating your meetings occasionally) to all attendees, along with a thanks for their feedback.
Did you use a parking lot? How will all those great points get addressed: in the next meeting agenda, by a sub-group, or higher up the food chain?
You also want to ensure that someone is responsible for following up on any decisions made and agreed-to actions. Of course, if you’re the team lead or project manager – that’s you. If you’ve been seconded just to facilitate the meeting, it may make more sense to have someone closer to the work monitoring progress.
Just as you managed the interpersonal dynamics during the meeting, it is sometimes the case that issues surface during heated discussion that point to larger interpersonal conflicts which need to be addressed. Remember that interpersonal issues are always best dealt with at the local level first, so instead of reporting your concerns, is there a way to spark dialogue between those involved?
The Good News
Just when you’ve finished leading a collaborative and productive meeting, we’re suggesting more hard work. The good news? It pays off. We all know that great meeting facilitators have a positive effect on the quality of meeting outcomes, but your influence extends beyond the conference room. Meeting facilitators contribute positively to the bottom line in a number of ways:
Remember, a meeting revolution has to start somewhere, why not in your next meeting?
Do you have a unique meeting challenge not covered by one of our blog posts? We’re always looking for different dilemmas to discuss in our articles!