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Increase Effectiveness of Meetings With This One Simple Habit

A while back I was in business with a brilliant financial guru named Ron. As with everyone I’ve worked with, I learned from him. One habit he taught me was just a simple question he'd add to the end of every meeting. “What are the take aways?”

This question would force everyone to think through any major decisions that were made or any assignments anyone agreed to. Did we all agree on anything important? Did someone agree to do something specific? While it was fresh in everyone’s mind, we’d quickly list off the “take aways” and Ron would write them down. Shortly after the meeting, you’d get a copy of the list. It was very short and very simple. No details, just a few bullet points. It greatly increased the effectiveness of our meetings.

Business meetings tend to last far too long in my experience. There are always talkers and always time that we are completely off topic. Sometimes we cover far too many topics, goals, and problems.

Even with the worst of meetings, there are probably points in which everyone actually agrees on something. Yes that new strategy is worth a shot. Yes Jennifer should do a market study by next week. No we don't want to put resources into a new location right now.

Then the meeting ends. Then the busyness of your job takes over.

I’ve worked with teams that do a decent job recording and providing meeting minutes. Compared to the short list of take aways, these meeting minutes tend to be longer and much more detailed. Hardly anyone ever reads them though. While these may be important in your organization, I found the shorter take away list much more useful. A typical meeting would end up with 3-5 take aways rather than a 3-5 paged meeting minutes document.

I now end many of my articles with a Take Away section. I’m guilty of scrolling down to just the bulleted list of “how tos” or main points in some articles. But I absorb the information better if I read the whole article! You probably do too.

Take Aways

  • Read the whole article!

  • Summarize important conversations and meetings with a short list of take aways. What decisions were made? What to do items were added and for whom?

  • Give a copy of that short list to everyone in attendance at the meeting.


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