If you’re reading this article, you’re likely already well versed with the pain of sitting through a meeting that either has nothing to do with you or very much could have been an email. You’re certainly not alone in this experience, as 70% of people have reported that meetings do nothing apart from keeping them from actually working.
The global frustration with meetings comes back to its roots in mismanagement. Many middle managers schedule meetings solely because they think that’s the typical ‘business’ thing to do. The simple fact is that if you’re not planning your meetings beforehand, you’re likely wasting your team’s time.
One of the most best ways to facilitate effective meetings is to write a set of meeting tasks that needs to be covered ahead of time. The action items on this list will let your team know why they’ve been called to the meeting in the first place, so that everyone is on the same page. From holding your team members accountable to staying on topic during the duration of the discussion, good agendas and effective meetings rely on vital action items.
In this article, we’ll be discussing the following topics:
Let’s get started.
Think of action items as individual tasks that you’d like to tackle within the meeting. This might be something as small as ‘discuss X,’ or as large as ‘plan product launch of Y.’ No matter what the task may be, an action item that will come up within the meeting should be documented in your meeting agenda.
Action items provide a central pathway to follow on your agenda. When someone receives a meeting invite with an attached agenda, they’ll be able to see exactly what’s going to be coming up in the meeting. Instead of going into the meeting blind, they can even start to think about what they’re going to say during the conversation in advance.
By having a detailed set of action items, your team members will always know exactly what’s going to be discussed in a meeting. Preparation is vital, and meeting action items make it a breeze to get ready ahead of time.
Meeting tasks are effective ways of ensuring that your team meeting has an actual purpose, with the main tasks that you need to cover or achieve being listed in your agenda. When planning your next meeting, you should consider what sort of action items to write down.
Most commonly, the action items that you should list include anything you want to achieve in the meeting itself. This could include asking about project updates, or something as simple as sharing news with your team.
No matter what task you want to achieve in your meeting, you're much less likely to forget to bring it up if you include it as an action point on your agenda. By quickly scanning through your meeting agenda at the start of every meeting, you’ll be able to hit every point you want and make sure that your time is spent as efficiently as possible.
While most people leave meeting action items as simple bullet points, there is actually a little bit more that you should try and add to make your next meeting as effective as possible.
You should include the following information within your action items:
Let’s break these down further.
Alongside listing the action item on in your meeting notes, you should also provide context that explains why you have written this task down. Just like how a meeting’s agenda demonstrates that you’ve put thought into why you’re hosting the meeting, the context around a meeting point will help your team members recognize tasks as important.
Instead of just writing ‘discuss X,’ give an actual reason that you’ve added this to the agenda. Your background information could include what answers you’re looking to find, why it is important or time sensitive, or why the topic of the meeting is perfect for this point to be discussed.
Just take a look at these short context summaries on a sample agenda template. These small bits of content will make managing meeting tasks a breeze.
Every meeting action item on your agenda should have context behind it; otherwise, a team member may struggle to see the point in spending time discussing that particular topic. This helps people approach meetings with a more open mind and will facilitate more productive meetings.
This section can be split into two core ideas — in-meeting time limits and an out-of-meeting due dates. You want to assign a deadline on your action items within your meeting. This will tell your team how long each task will take within the meetings and help them better understand how the meeting will be split up.
This method of assigning a time limit on each action item also helps the entire team understand why you’ve scheduled a certain amount of time for the meeting. While people may roll their eyes to see an hour-long meeting booked on their calendar, they’ll be more understanding once they see all the action items and how long they’re estimated to take.
Additionally, you should assign a due date to all of your tasks that will extend beyond the meeting. For example, while your action item could be ‘plan a new social media strategy for Twitter and send out the first ten tweets,’ this task is something that will extend beyond the meeting itself.
While you’ll be able to plan those ten tweets within the meeting, the actual task of execution will happen in the coming days after the meeting concludes. Because of this, you should assign a deadline for the tasks that come afterwards.
Meeting action items often require a next step that happens after the meeting. Instead of having to send out a follow-up email to the whole department, you should aim to build the next steps into your meetings.
Alongside your action items, you should also include the next steps after this task has been completed. Not only does this solidify the reason that you’re taking valuable time to talk about something, but it also provides a way to track the progress of action items after the meeting has concluded.
By writing a task list following the completion of certain action items, you’ll be able to ensure your meetings have a lasting impact. Couple this step with the inclusion of due dates and context, and you’ll have an excellent meeting action item ready to go.
While there are various steps that make up a comprehensive action item, modern solutions using the power of technology have made this process much easier. Software like Hugo, a meeting productivity tool, allow for action items and agendas to be built into every single meeting that you attend.
Instead of taking notes and ticking off your action items on another app or piece of paper, your team will be able to do so from within the meeting itself. The integration of meeting software like Hugo has made creating and accomplishing action items easier than ever.
If you’re looking to manage action items with ease, you should turn to modern technology to give you a leg up.
You entire team will be glad to know that you’ve thought your meeting through before sending out your invite. Instead of walking into a meeting without the faintest idea of what will be discussed, your agenda will motivate people to come into the meeting prepared. You can even take your action item tracking one step further and assign tasks to certain people.
The person assigned a specific action item will be in charge of preparing a short summary of that task, ensuring that it's carried out effectively in your meeting. By making the most of online meeting software tools like Hugo, you’ll be able to effectively create live meeting agendas that your entire team can access and edit.
Creating action items is one of the simplest ways to ensure that your next meeting isn’t something that people actively dread. From writing a list of meeting participants to documenting all the tasks to accomplish within the next meeting date, action items are essential to a company’s success.
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The best way to set a meeting agenda is to explain every goal of the meeting as an action.