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Making the Most of Meetings

How to turn talk into action.

How many times have you been in a committee meeting that went well, but in the weeks that followed, little or nothing happened? People either didn't remember or didn't act on what was said. So much talk, so little action.

Having endured that many times, I finally abandoned the traditional minutes of the meeting. Instead, I record a short, simple list of action steps. The only written record of the meeting lists what action will be taken, by whom, and when. Then I email (or mail) this list to each person immediately after the meeting. For example:

This approach takes much less time than writing full minutes, and it focuses people's attention on what matters. The important part of the meeting is not so much what was discussed (yes, we'll have a retreat) but acting on what was discussed (doing the work necessary to actually hold a retreat).

Let me summarize, then, the Miller Method for Meetings: Attach action steps to every project and every item for discussion. Don't move on until you know, ...

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