Meeting Management: Identifying Next Steps|
I tend to hibernate in my own brain and assume that everyone else’s thought patterns are in line with mine. Sometimes, I neglect to clue in others on what I plan to do next or need them to do next. I’m known to regularly jump from one topic to another without providing background on what I’m discussing. I’m a very lateral thinker and someone who speaks as I think. However, I recognize that it might be tough for others to always understand what I am saying, what I am doing, and what I expect from them.
While being a lateral thinker has a lot of benefits like creativity and spontaneity, I know I need to work on my ability to communicate effectively and become better at meeting management. Communication skills are tough to work on and take a lot of energy and attention. I thought I’d share something that is working well for me and a priority I’ve been setting for myself in order to develop into a stronger communicator: using and overusing next steps.
Next steps not only serve to demonstrate that a meeting was worthwhile, but they also give a clear path of action for those who participated the meeting. Ever been in one of those meetings where everyone just walks away and nothing comes of it? Most likely, that happened because the next steps weren’t defined, assigned, or followed up on.
I now understand the value of stating, restating, and even using email to follow up on next steps in order to be absolutely certain that the entire team is on the same page. Everybody should be clear on what they are supposed to do.
So, how do you actually turn “next steps” from a business buzz-word into something valuable for your team? It’s fairly simple. A good set of next steps includes the following:
1. This is what I’m hearing
Summarize what you heard in the meeting and identify the key points. This recap allows you to clearly outline what you heard and why you are suggesting the following.
2. The actual next steps
Once you’ve explained your reasoning by recapping “what I’m hearing,” you can establish what needs to be done.
3. Identifying “who”
Identify who needs to follow through on next steps in order to make sure they get done.
4. Setting a deadline
The most important part of defining next steps and responsibility is putting down a due date. Don’t risk the chance that your next steps will fall through the cracks.
5. Following up with an email
This isn’t always necessary, but I’ve found that the true key to effective next steps is following up with an email. This way, you leave nothing open to interpretation and make clear what needs to be done, when, and by whom.
By suggesting next steps, you show that are thinking above and beyond the exact task at hand. You’re on your way to actually moving forward!
Photo courtesy of Voka – Kamer van Koophandel Limburg