Generally, a well-prepared good meeting can produce a lot of useful outcomes in terms of ideas shared, or decisions made – however, there can be a lack of effectiveness if all these good ideas or decisions are not followed through.
So how do we make sure that happens?
By making sure that topics of discussion are well tracked all the way through. The easiest way to do this is to track and follow up with the agenda.
Creating the agenda can be easy if you know what to do in advance. The SOAP technique helps to collect the topics, organize them, and select the ones that will contribute the most to your meeting:
- Seek topics from your participants: send an email to the list of participants you have identified earlier (which is important as you want to make sure you only have the right people in the meeting), and ask them for agenda topics:
- Give a brief explanation of the purpose of the meeting and an idea of what you are looking for in terms of topics (do this informally in case you have to edit their request later);
- When you make the request, make sure you ask the participants for the time they need to discuss their topic; and
- Provide a deadline to get their topic to you so it can be included on the agenda.
- Organize topics into a list: once you receive the topics, organize them into a list along with the time and the name of the presenter. This will give you the ability to scan through the list, narrowing it down to the topics you will select for the agenda.
- Assess which topics are relevant to the meeting purpose: with your list organized, determine which topics are the most relevant to the purpose of the meeting. Scratch out those topics you do not intend to use.
- Pick the number of relevant topics that will fit into your meeting time: review the time of the remaining topics. Select enough topics to fill the time of your meeting minus ten minutes. Give yourself ten minutes for meeting overrun. If you go over, you will end on time. If you do not, then you get to adjourn your meeting early, making everyone happy.
Remember to contact the presenter that had their topic removed from the agenda, explaining the reason why it was not put on the agenda (time constraints) and recommend that the topic be saved for another meeting.
This agenda now becomes a tool for you to follow up with the respective attendees on what needs to be done, after the meeting and before the next one.