Every business meeting is different- some are good, others are terrible. But there’s one simple thing you can do to make every meeting count.
Write and distribute a summary of the meeting to everyone who’s attended. And do it as soon as possible, even minutes after the meeting has ended.
It sounds silly, but it’s true.
Be the hero
No one likes to take notes. No one likes to be responsible for accurately capturing the meetings’ essence and action items. By doing so you position yourself as the go-to guy and as the authority. You will earn the immediate respect of everyone- here’s a responsible lad they will think. This one can be trusted with getting the job done.
Control the agenda
But the truth runs even deeper. It was said that history was written by the winner. Well- your’e not actually making history but you can tweak it to suit your needs- because whoever writes the summary also chooses what is left out (such as annoying tasks for yourself) and also what are the action items for everyone. Sure- sometimes people will try to shout back and say this isn’t what was decided, or “remind” you of an unpleasant task you need to perform. But more often than not, people will just appreciate you for taking the time and the effort (and secretly thank you for removing this burden) and would refrain from arguing in public about decisions and task allocation.
Speed trumps accuracy
Yes, you can send the summary about 24 hours later. People will still appreciate it, but the impact will be reduced, and someone might either beat you to it (taking your hard earned credit) or ask “where is the summary” (by which point it will seem very late to send this at all). The best is to distribute this within the hour, but several hours are also find. Given that today you can carry a laptop/ tablet/ smartphone to any meeting and takes notes during it’s course makes it a no brainer (in F2F meetings it is better to take hand written notes- no one likes to look at you typing).
In all my professional life I was only beat to a summary once, and that’s because I had a long drive from the meeting back to the office, which the other guy used to his advantage. But in all other cases I was the first, and I’ve always been surprised at how much people appreciate this small gesture.
Don’t be lazy. Take notes, organized them and send quickly. You will gain the respect of your peers, business associates and potential customers and would be able to extract some “Yey” points from even the lowliest of meetings.