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The Meeting Recap: how to do it for maximum effect. 

All too often meetings finish rather quickly. People are relieved to get out and are eager to get on with the next thing. However, before closing any meeting it is essential to recap what was decided.

The most important part of the recap is to check that all agreed actions are properly understood. If you do nothing else other than just check that the actions are clear you will improve the effectiveness of your meetings greatly. Letting people leave a meeting where they are slightly unsure of what the actions are is a sure recipe for nothing happening.

Recapping actions at the end of a meeting is easy and essential

Recapping actions is really easy if you have noted them properly on the way through the meeting. Ideally you are using a great meeting note taking app like Meeting Gold that makes this really easy. But even if you are just using pen and paper you should have some consistent way to clearly mark actions in your notes as you go through the meeting so that they are easy to find at the end and you don't miss anything. 

So, as the meeting progresses mark actions in your notes and for each one note who is responsible for the action, specifically what the action is i.e. what you all collectively expect the outcome of the action to be. Ask yourself, "how will the world be different after the action is complete?" and write that down as the description of the action. Doing this will help to clarify what will happen and will have a direct impact on how effective the action is. You should also note when you expect the action to be complete by.

Recap actions at the end of a meeting to gain commitment to getting things done

At the end of the meeting you need to go through each action and check that the person responsible understands the action and when you all expect it to be done. If you are using Meeting Gold just select the 'action view' and you will see a list of just the actions. You can read through each quickly and easily and be sure that you won't have missed anything. If you've used another form of note taking you'll have to manually go through each action being careful not to miss any.

For each action do the recap like this:

  1. Read out the person responsible first. Get their attention by looking them in the eye, "John, this action is yours".
  2. Read out the title of the action and the expected outcome.
  3. Read out the due date.
  4. Look the person in the eye again and ask them, "Is that okay and will you get it done on time?" 

Specifically doing the recap this way gains much more commitment to the action than any other way of doing it. They are giving you a personal commitment to get it done and it makes it much harder for them to later claim that they didn't understand or they were not aware of the action.

Send out meeting notes immediately at the end of the meeting

Once you've read through the actions you can close the meeting. You should then instantly send out the meeting notes which show a clear summary of the actions. You shouldn't underestimate the power of sending out the notes immediately. If you wait a few days to write them up then you should expect that your meeting will be much less effective as people will be far less likely to look at the notes and work on the actions. There is no excuse for not sending out the meeting notes immediately. There are plenty of good tools available that allow you to take notes and distribute them at the end of the meeting.

So, to recap:

  1. Take great notes that clearly show actions.
  2. At the end of the meeting go through each action and ensure that each person knows what they are supposed to do.
  3. Send out meeting notes immediately that clearly show all expected actions.



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