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The Most Important 5 Minutes of Your Meeting

How often have you left a meeting feeling sure that everyone was on the same page, you were all clear about what was agreed, who was responsible for what and when it was to be done only for all to fall apart 20 minutes after the meeting? Sadly, it's not unusual, and it's one of the biggest areas of frustration within many organisations, leading to communication errors or no communication and friction within organisations today, so how can you stop it from happening?

The Most Important Part of The Meeting

When it comes to organisational alignment, communication and follow through the most important part of any meeting is, drum roll please… the last 5 minutes!

Think about how your meetings end, there is probably a bit of shuffling of paper, someone no doubt utters the corporate code for we are done – typically "Right then…" and people start shuffling out the room or running out the room to get to their next meeting which started 5 minutes ago. How clear is everyone on what was discussed and agreed? Not very I'd suggest.

Like a good novel think about the last 5 minutes of your meeting as the final chapter of the novel, this is where the author pulls together all the threads that they have weaved throughout the story into a final and complete culmination of the events. Plots are finished, character arcs completed and the tease for a sequel is sometimes laid out. The last 5 minutes of your meeting also need to achieve these same outcomes.

The 5 Minute Wrap

The 5-minute wrap is your time to ensure 100% alignment and action from the session, its where you will turn a meeting from just another hour or so locked in a room to something worthwhile that drives your organisations, here are the key parts of the wrap.

  1. Ensure that everyone is clear on what was agreed in the meeting, each item agreed should have a 1 line statement that details exactly what was agreed. This is what is used later to communicate to the teams and this is the point where you quickly uncover the misalignment, when that happens, stop and clarify again what was agreed.
  2. Agree what actions out of those things need to be completed, who owns them and when the must be completed
  3. Agree what things from within the meeting are for communication outside the meeting and what isn't, this is important as there may have been topics covered that are not yet ready for large scale organisation consumption and will just create further uncertainty or disagreement. Agree what stays in the room.
  4. Finally, of the things that will be communicated back to the organisation agree on a timeframe, typically this should be within the next 24hrs and ideally should be as close to each other as possible, so everyone hears it at the same time. By far the best way to do this is in person where possible and not email, video calls work, conference calls work. If there really is no other option, and I struggle to think that's the case then an email would have to do but this will not be as good as verbally.
  5. Publish the agreed information back to the attendees with the agreed actions, owners & timeframes to again re-enforce the clarity of what was agreed in the meeting.

Why this works

By ensuring that everyone is clear on exactly what was agreed the risk of miscommunication to the rest of the organisation is greatly reduced. This not only helps build better alignment within the entire organisation but shows that the leadership team is in fact all aligned and builds confidence and trust in them for the organisation. By taking the time and ensuring that everyone really is on the same page, missteps and incorrect meanings or incorrect intentions from the meeting can be avoided.

Since everyone is in the room for the 5 minute wrap everyone has the same information, everyone knows they all have the same information and everyone knows the expectations on what is to be communicated and what isn't. There is no escaping peer accountability here!

Summary 

Taking that 5 minutes to make sure that your team is 100% clear on what has been agreed is critical to getting clarity and alignment within your organisation. It sets the whole team for success and lets you correct misunderstandings before they become public and it ensures that the information that is being put out to the organisation is done in a timely manner for everyone. The result better alignment, better clarity and trust and substantially less waste in correcting misunderstanding further down the track.


Get In Touch

If you need any support in developing or improving your meetings then click here to make an appointment and find out how we can help you Make Things, Better

You can also call John on 0211649739 to set up a meeting 

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Monday, 17 December 2018

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