Recently we received this question from a Lucid Meetings customer.
What have you found to be the best way to track meeting deliverables and analyze efficiency / value added during meetings?
This is a great question; one that every group should ask themselves. So, we thought it would be valuable to share our answers with everyone here.
Wow, that’s a big question, so here’s a big answer!
Before we get into the specific, let me say up-front that it definitely depends on the kind of projects you run and how meeting-savvy your team is, and we’re always available to meet with people who’d like to talk through their situation.
With that said, here are some general pointers below - hopefully it’s a helpful start!
Tracking Meeting Deliverables
Let’s tackle meeting deliverables first. We look at 2 types of meeting deliverables:
- Required preparation: things people need to do before a meeting
- Assignments made in meetings
For the required preparation deliverables, we:
- Set up our meetings so everyone can contribute to the agenda. At a minimum, this makes it easy for people to add reports to the meeting. When you begin to collaborate more, this also gives you a way to “crowdsource” important meeting topics from your team.
Send preparation instructions in the email invitation. These appear at the top of the meeting invitation so people know what’s expected.
Send the invite no more than 1 week in advance, unless it’s a really complicated meeting. Too far in advance and people will procrastinate and forget the instructions. To combat that, Lucid Meetings automatically sends reminders each morning, and then again 10 minutes before a meeting starts, which help people remember they need to prepare by keeping these instructions fresh in their minds.
Cut the meeting short and/or cancel it if people don’t prepare. You can’t always do this, especially with clients, but when you can it helps a lot. This doesn’t happen to us too much anymore, but when it did, we’d say something like: “It looks like we didn’t all have time to prepare for this conversation, and rather than try to force our way to a decision we’re not ready to make, let’s reschedule. Sorry to waste everyone’s time like this - but let’s keep it short and find a time that will work. Do we need to postpone an hour, or find another day?”
Tracking Deliverables Assigned in Meetings
For assignments made in meetings, we:
- Assign action items in the meeting. In Lucid, you can make any note an Action Item, and give it an owner and due date.
Review the action items before we end the meeting Make sure that everyone understands the action item as written and confirm that the due dates make sense. We use a “smart list” in the final agenda item to automatically pull up all the action items, which helps everyone remember to complete this review before leaving the meeting.
Send a follow-up email. List each person’s action items from the meeting right at the top, so even if they didn’t show up, they can see those deliverables for which they’re responsible.
Review open action items in the next meeting. In your next meeting, walk through any open action items and make sure they’re up to date. We use another “smart list” in our meetings that automatically shows us all the open action items from previous meetings.
Using these last two practices, you’ll consistently make sure everyone understands their assignments at the end of each meeting, and has to report back on progress in front of everyone at the next meeting. For most teams, this small ritual is enough to remind people about their commitments and get results.
How to analyze efficiency / value added during meetings
We’ve published an e-book with a whole chapter on this. Take a look at Chapter 3 of “Meetings are Serious Business”.
People who use Lucid Meetings get a report with every meeting that automatically captures a lot of statistics we use to analyze our meetings. It’s linked from the “Actions” menu at the top-right of a meeting, and you can learn more about the reports here: http://www.lucidmeetings.com/docs/reports
Technology makes it easier
This question came from a Lucid Meetings user, so many of my answers talk about how to use the software to automate these recommended best practices. Obviously our goal is to make it easy to get great results from your meetings, but you certainly don’t have to use technology to get there. It just makes it a whole lot easier.
We love getting great questions like this! What are you wrestling with in your meetings? Let’s talk.