How to Structure a Meeting to Make Sure Things Get Done

Have you ever found yourself in meetings where the same issues and action items seem to get discussed over and over? 
If the mechanics of documenting action items, defining a due date, and assigning it to somebody are in place then, why don’t things get done?  Why do we need to talk about them again at subsequent meetings? There are actually some very simple steps you can take to make sure that your meetings stay on track.

how to structure a meetingStructuring a meeting is only half the battle, making sure things get done is the other half.


Roger Schwarz wrote a straight-forward article in the Harvard Business Review on how to design an agenda for an effective meeting.  In this article, he points out 10 key areas to keep in mind:

  1. Seek input from meeting participants
  2. Select topics that affect all participants 
  3. List agenda topics as questions that need to be answered at the meeting
  4. Note whether the purpose of the topic is to share information, seek input for a decision, or make a decision
  5. Estimate a realistic amount of time for each topic.
  6. Propose a process for addressing each agenda item
  7. Specify how participants should prepare for the meeting. 
  8. Identify who is responsible for leading each topic
  9. Make the first topic “review and modify agenda as needed” 
  10. End the meeting by asking what went well and how to improve

Structuring good meetings is absolutely critical if it is to move things forward, however, this is only half the challenge.  Making sure that meeting action items are properly identified, defined, and executed is the other half.


Assuming that your meeting was properly designed and executed, you will most likely end up with a number of action items with clear due dates and responsible parties.  So, now what?  
action items getting doneClear definition, communication, and assignment of meeting action items is critical.
How do we ensure that we instill a strong sense of accountability in the participants to make sure things get done, on time, as expected?  More importantly, how do we monitor that things are moving forward and nothing is being left behind?

Technology Support

Getting support for action item follow-through, enforcement, and accountability is nowadays as simple as using an accountability tool like CommandHound.
CommandHound has been built from the ground up as an accountability tool.  One of its best uses is for holding people accountable for action items identified in meetings.
Here are the 8 simple steps on how to do this with an accountability tool like CommandHound:

  1. Load all action items into CommandHound
  2. Define dates – reminders, due date, escalate date, and default date
  3. Define responsibilities – who is in charge of action items and escalations?
  4. Let CommandHound run, remind, and record the completion of action items
  5. Monitor action item progress in the dashboard
  6. Over time, review participants ratio of on-time action item completion
  7. Review late action items at the beginning of each meeting
  8. Connect action item completion performance to participants performance reviews


There it is.  Full life cycle meeting management.  From preparation, to execution, to follow up.
Would you like to learn more about how accountability can help you get the most out of your meetings?


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