Holding a meeting? Then include the most important agenda item (most people don’t)

21st April 2015

Why have meetings?

To discuss stuff, yes?


Instead, it’s to cause stuff.

In other words, you want your meetings to cause actions to happen as a result.

Given this, your most important agenda item is the final one…

       ‘Confirmation of actions

Obvious, I know.

But many meetings don’t finish like this. Instead, they end with:

  • ‘Any Other Business’, which gives certain people licence to talk about whatever’s on their mind; or
  • ‘Summary’, which repeats what everyone has just said; or
  • ‘Takeaways’, where people share what they’ve learned during the meeting, rather than what they’re going to do after it

But none of these focus on what happens after the meeting.

So nothing does.

When you think about it, meetings should be like pit-stops in Formula One – everyone working together, contributing fully using their different skills and approaches, to achieve a common goal.

Instead, most meetings are like huge sandwiches – bloating, stodgy things that slow you down. And, when you have them back-to-back, they make creative thought virtually impossible.

The simplest way to change your meetings?

  1. At the start, agree the desired outcomes – the actions you want to take as a result of meeting
  2. And at the end: confirm these actions
  3. Follow it up with a quick email, documenting these agreed actions

Do this, and it’s obvious your meetings will cause stuff, not just discuss it.

And there’s an important ‘bonus benefit’: once you know what you’re looking to achieve after meetings, you find you don’t need to cover as many topics during them.

Which means you reduce your time spent in them. In fact, my customers tell me they’ve reduced meeting duration by 50%-70%.

Imagine what you could do with all that extra time…

Action point

You know the first meeting you’ve got coming up today?

Make sure you’re clear on the desired actions. Or there won’t be any.

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