Meetings are pivotal for decision-making, alignment, and collaboration in any organization. However, research shows that 67% are considered failures by participants, wasting crucial work time and negatively impacting the bottom line. But there is hope – well-crafted meeting memos play a vital role in transforming lackluster gatherings into productive power sessions.
As a consultant who has helped dozens of entrepreneurs build efficient management processes, I‘ve seen firsthand how something as minor as a pre-meeting memo makes the difference between a team leaving demotivated versus inspired to take action. In this article, I‘ll provide comprehensive guidance on creating concise yet thorough meeting memos based on best practices from top business thinkers like Patrick Lencioni.
The Cost of Bad Meetings: Why Memos Matter
According to Harvard Business Review, executives view 67% of meetings as failures and 71% of senior managers complain about wasting time in meetings. This time waste ripples across the organization – a 250 person company will lose over $5 million per year from high salaried leaders stuck in ineffective gatherings.
But something as simple yet strategic as a well-crafted meeting memo can mitigate these issues. Memos align participants, set clear expectations, and enable more focused discussions. Leaders who implement pre-meeting memos see dramatic differences in meeting effectiveness as well as employee morale. For instance, one Fortune 500 tech executive I spoke with was struggling with lack of alignment and unclear action items coming out of leadership offsites. Implementing concise yet thorough pre-read memos outlining the purpose and desired outcomes boosted productivity by 19%.
Now that we‘ve covered why finely tuned memos matter, let‘s get into how to write them properly.
What To Include in Your Meeting Memo
An impactful meeting memo contains several key sections:
This captures logistical details such as date, time, location, organizer name/details, recipient names/positions.
Having this info visible upfront avoids any last minute "when is this meeting?" type emails. Pro tip – include conferencing details and access links if virtual.
Craft a subject line that clearly conveys the meeting‘s purpose or topic in 1-2 succinct sentences. Treat this section like the preview text in a calendar invitation.
- Review Q3 Sales Forecasts
- Discuss New Parental Leave Policy
- Strategize Instagram Marketing Expansion
List out all participants and their positions. Especially helpful for cross-functional meetings so everyone understands who needs to contribute what.
This section carries the heavy lifting. Succinctly convey:
- Purpose: What pressing business issue will this meeting tackle? What is the desired outcome?
- Problems/topics: What key points, goals, challenges or opportunities will the group discuss?
- Pre-work: Any expectations around pre-reads, initial research or prep work that needs completed beforehand.
- Questions: Open invitation for attendees to submit clarifying questions about agenda or expectations beforehand. Reduces in-session interruptions.
Close with organizer name and contact details in case any follow up questions.
Key Tips for Concise Yet Thorough Memos
While comprehensive meeting memos are crucial, we also want to value attendees time.
Aim to limit memos to 1 page max with the following best practices:
- Headings: Visually break up text
- Bullets/Numbering: Draw attention to key points
- Bolding: Emphasize critical details
- Links: Embed access info for pre-reads
Cut the Fluff
Our goal isn‘t an exhaustive transcript – just a high signal preview so attendees arrive informed and ready to strategically problem solve.
Match Tone to Audience
Consider memo terminology based on each group‘s common language and priorities. Sales may focus on revenue growth and closing deals while Engineering analyzes release timelines and system dependencies.
Nothing undermines perceived credibility faster than avoidable typos. Have a second set of eyes review before blasting out. I once referenced "Q4 Salad Forecasts" instead of Sales Forecasts which drew some lighthearted ribbing from team members!
Drive Better Meetings with Strategic Memos
In closing, meetings play an invaluable role in organizations when run effectively. A well-crafted memo gets everyone on the same strategic page, enabling productivite discussions and forward progress on vital initiatives. While only one piece of the puzzle, a concise yet thorough meeting memo relieves attendee anxiety, drives clarity and sets a purposeful tone for truly powerful gatherings.
I welcome any feedback on this comprehensive guide based on my experience in the field – what resonated or what other areas would you like me to explore? Wishing you much success as you master the art of strategic and engaging meeting memos!