Sick of Dreadful Meetings? Change your final thing

3rd May 2016

When’s your first meeting today?

And what’s the final agenda item?

It’ll probably be one of these four:

  1. There’ll be no final agenda item, because there’s no agenda
  2. The last topic you’re discussing
  3. Any other business (AOB)
  4. Actions Arising

The first of these is, frankly, ridiculous. If you don’t have an agenda, you don’t know what you’re discussing. So, everyone will either:

  • Discuss the same stuff as last week – even if it wasn’t relevant/interesting; or
  • Waffle on about… well, I don’t know. And neither do you.

It’s pretty easy to fix: write an agenda. Start by identifying your desired outcome following the meeting, and then list the topics you need to discuss, to ensure you achieve it.

Point #2 is better. At least there’s an agenda now. But it isn’t a neat ending. And, without one, the meeting could easily drift on and on.

Point #3 – AOB – is almost always a bad idea. After all, if something is important enough to be discussed in a group of busy people, it should have had its own separate agenda item.

Worse, AOB often means the person with the biggest mouth drones on about their current pet topic until the official end-time. Not good.

The fourth option – Actions Arising – is the best way to end a meeting.

By a mile.

After all, the meeting was supposed to cause something – that was the point of it (unless, of course, you go to pointless meetings. In which case, I advise you stop going to them).

And with Actions Arising, you simply need:

  • A minimum of three things – what/who/when. For example – “Prepare the financial business case/Anna the Accountant/By this Friday
  • You might also add a fourth – the “why”. This reminds everyone why each action is so important – “To convince the Board to invest in this project”
  • Follow-up email #1 – sent immediately after the meeting – “As agreed, here are our agreed actions”
  • Follow-up email #2 – send shortly before the next meeting – “Here’s a reminder of our actions from last time. Please let me know if you haven’t yet done your action. We will then carry it forward”. This saves the tortuous round-the-room update on actions in the meeting

Do you have meetings – where people just meet?

Or causings, which cause things to happen as a result?

Your final agenda item will tell you the answer.

Action Point

Look in your diary for the next meeting you’re attending.

Review the final agenda item. If it isn’t “Actions Arising”, change it so it is.

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