Congratulations, you’re about to end the meeting on time. But wait! Before you adjourn, you have one more task.

Set up the follow-up.

Successful follow-up is when everyone does what they’re supposed to do, based on what happened at the meeting. That means:

  • Set up the follow-up
  • Make sure there are good minutes
  • Personally contact each person with an assignment

Set up the follow-up. This happens AT the meeting, before adjournment. Make sure everyone is clear on his or her assigned task. A quick itemization works: Joe, you’re going to meet with the Mayor. Sandy, you’re going to prepare an announcement about the new mission statement we just approved.  Mary, you’re going to work with the bookkeeper, get her up to speed on the credit card process, and test it before it goes live.

Next, assign a ‘buddy’ to make sure that everyone who wasn’t at the meeting will be contacted and brought up to speed: Jack, can you call Mark and let him know what happened tonight? Jean, can you get with Judy? etc. It’s a great way to reinforce that this was an important meeting. Things actually happened here and you think it’s important that your nonattendees are also in the know.

Now you can go home. But you’re not home free.

Make sure there are good minutes. Minutes are the records of your actions and assignments. They’re not verbatim recitations of every word. Instead, they provide a sense of what occurred and what the group decided. If you follow the agenda, the minutes can record a) whether a discussion ensued, b) any motions that were made, c) the results of any votes, and d) any assignments that were made.

Any action items and decisions should be set off in some way, often in bold italics. At the end, reiterate any action items, so you and your attendees have a single place to look them all up quickly.

Don’t reiterate information items! Attach committee reports and financial reports,  and reference them.

Next, as committee/board chair, take those action items in the minutes and get moving. It’s your job to be in touch with everyone who is supposed to do something! Make sure they:

  • Know what they’re supposed to do
  • Have the resources they need
  • Know the timeline
  • Can report at the next meeting

As a final follow-up, at least a week before the next meeting, contact them again.

  • Make sure they’ll have a report in time to be distributed at least 3 days BEFORE the next meeting
  • Ask how much time they need at the next meeting.
  • Use that information to start creating the next agenda.

Then….start the process again.

Congratulations…with this follow-up, you’ve completed a full cycle of creating a well-run, productive meeting. You’ve figured out why you’re meeting, and who should be there. You’ve set up the meeting to be successful. You’ve created a timed agenda — and stuck to it. You’ve made sure that the time spent at the meeting is productive. You’ve allowed everyone to have a voice. You’ve ensured that the decisions and assignments will be completed.

Be proud! And pass it forward. Your successors will be in a much better place for your having paved the way.

My colleague, Susan Sherk, and I are presenting more detail on meeting management at the International Association of Fundraising Professionalsmeeting in Baltimore, on April 12, 2010. Join us in BUZZ Theatre, and then meet us at the Bloom Metz Consulting exhibit!