After the meeting is over.
Now that your meeting has occurred, was well run, and everyone is pleased that their time was efficiently spent; it is time to do the follow-up.
Your note-taker will have taken down the names of people who asked questions and what their questions were, also they will have noted whether the question was answered right there, or if it is still outstanding. The outstanding questions will be directed to you for answers while your Virtual Assistant puts the meeting minutes together with the distribution list of who will receive these minutes. When you have answered the follow-up questions, send the info to your VA to make sure the answers are included in the minutes. If necessary, address any tangents that may have started during the meeting as these asides are sometimes pertinent and can be used to further understanding of issues or topics that may be difficult to understand, or concepts that are difficult to explain. If the tangent really has no connection what so ever to the meeting topic then it is safe to leave it alone. Make sure all interested parties receive a copy of the minutes and that all questions from the meeting are addressed. If this is a recurring meeting (quarterly, weekly, or monthly) attach next meetings agenda to the minutes so all parties are aware of the next meetings topics and can comment or ask questions ahead of time so your next meeting can be the best it can be. The pre-questions can be addressed during the meeting so everyone gets the answers they need. This will save you time and will help your meeting run more efficiently and smoothly next time as well.
These are general guidelines to make your meetings run more smoothly and efficiently. Some meetings are more difficult to push into this model, but if you use this model your regular meetings will be much more efficient and will garner more engaged participation from your attendees.
Now that your meeting has been well planned, it is time to execute.
One of the first things you will want to do is get there early and organize your room. Make sure your note-taker is sitting in a space that they can hear all the participants and see their faces. It is also a good idea to have the note-taker be someone who is not an “interested party” so they can fully concentrate on the job they have been given. Place your time-keeper opposite you so it is easy to see them signal you, again, this individual; should not have a vested interest in the proceedings as that could sidetrack them from their purpose. Ensure that you introduce your staff and what their purpose is, this will help later when the timekeeper needs to interject to keep everything on time.
If you are using slides or projections, make sure you are not facing the screen or reading directly from the media. Use note pages or cards to keep you on track. Also, for slides, do not put everything you wish to say on the slide, it insults your attendees intelligence and renders the meeting moot.
Tangents can sometimes derail your well-planned meeting, so it is important to keep them to a minimum. Sometimes a tangent can invigorate a meeting and help with explanation or delivery of information. They should still be well monitored and the timekeeper is just the person for the job. If the timekeeper realizes the tangent or sidebar has gone on for longer than a minute or two they should give a small signal like clearing their throat or even a word of encouragement to move along with the meeting topic (politely of course).
Attendees may bristle at first at being “moved along” or held to a particular timeframe, but if you continue to use this model everyone will see the benefits of keeping meetings on topic and inside their allotted timeframe so everyone benefits from the efficiency with which you run your meetings. They will soon begin to appreciate that you take their time seriously and use it well.
Sabrina loves it when her plans come together. With a young child in the house there are even more opportunities to plan and execute fun, stay tuned for all the details.