The Follow-Up Email That’ll Save (Most) Meetings From Being a Waste of Time

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There’s a special kind of exasperation that comes with leaving a meeting feeling even less sure what the point of it was than when you walked in (in which case, maybe someone needs this guide to running effective meetings, this meeting agenda template, or this article outlining when you really should reschedule that meeting).

Even if matters aren’t so extreme—maybe you had a stimulating and engaging conversation—it’s still disappointing if nothing seems to come out of it. But there’s a simple solution: the post-meeting email.

“The overarching purpose is that it holds everybody accountable to the same expectations. So you have a team on the same page working toward the same goals, which keeps things efficient and productive and also keeps frustrations down,” says Heather Yurovsky, a Muse career coach and the founder of Shatter & Shine. “Nobody likes feeling like they sat in a meeting that had good momentum and then nothing happens afterwards.”

Read on for everything you need to know about sending the perfect post-meeting email—so that you’re never responsible for thwarting progress on whatever it is you were meeting about.

 

Who Should Send the Post-Meeting Email?

Okay, maybe you’re all in on the idea of a follow-up email. But how do you know if you’re the one who should be sending it?

Often it’s obvious. If you organized the meeting, created the agenda, and ran the thing, then chances are you should be the one closing the loop with a post-meeting missive.

“Usually it’s clear at the end of the meeting who’s responsible, but sometimes it’s not, especially if it’s maybe a new project that no one department technically owns yet,” Yurovsky says. “You just want to make sure you don’t come off like you’re barking orders at other people and that it really comes from the right person that people are going to listen to and respect the ownership and deadline.”

If it’s a more ambiguous situation, think about whether it makes sense for you to step up to the task. “At the end of the meeting, if it’s not abundantly clear who’s responsible for it and you feel equipped to send that email afterward, then raise your hand and say, ‘Hey, happy to send out the post-meeting email, unless there’s anyone else that feels like it’s more appropriate to come from them,’” Yurovsky says. “So you’re volunteering. You’re not calling anyone out to put it on them, but you’re also giving other people the opportunity to say, ‘Oh no, I think it actually needs to come from Joe.’”

 

Who Should Be Included?

Once the “from” field is settled, it’s time to think about the “to” and “cc” fields. Make sure you’re sending your note to all the meeting participants, including anyone who was on the invite list but perhaps wasn’t able to attend. Then think about whether there’s anyone you realized should have been in on the meeting as well as any other stakeholders who need to take action or have visibility on the topic. Finally, if you’re dealing with more senior colleagues, consider copying their assistants.

 

When Should It Go Out?

“It’s best to send the recap as close to coming out of the meeting as possible,” Yurovsky says. “If the meeting’s at the end of the day and you want to wait until first thing the next morning, that’s fine, but the closer you are to the meeting, the more momentum is created and it doesn’t start to fall to the bottom of people’s piles.”

In other words, consider the recap an extension of the meeting and send it off while the discussion is still fresh in your mind and everyone else’s. If you know in advance that you’ll be the one tackling this item, you can even plan ahead by blocking off time on your calendar right after the meeting to get it done.

 

What Should It Include?

“The purpose of the email is getting everyone on the same page,” says Muse career coach Kristina Leonardi. But what exactly goes into it to make that happen “depends on the nature of the meeting and what is the intention, what is the goal?” Leonardi says.

“If there was an issue or a challenge that was being dealt with and the meeting resolved that issue or challenge, it can be kind of like a thank you and self congratulatory,” she explains. Or “it can be clarifying roles and direction in a particular project or the subsequent action steps that need to be taken and who’s supposed to take them.”

As a general guideline, think about doing some or all of the following:

  • Thanking people for their time and effort
  • Summarizing any key points covered or discussed during the meeting
  • Outlining action items and owners as well as deadlines for these next steps
  • Attaching or linking to any relevant resources and documents
  • Inviting people to ask questions or reconvene

Leonardi urges you to keep it short and sweet. But even the scope of the email depends on the meeting. If you’re coming out of a standard monthly team meeting or a relatively quick and routine project update meeting, your email can reflect that in its length. If you’re sending a follow-up note after a two-hour board meeting or a deep-dive strategy session, it’ll look a little different. The same goes for your tone.

“You always want to be polite, even if it’s a quick email that you’re sending out,” Yurovsky says. “You also want to write in not only the tone of the organization, but of the meeting itself.” In short, don’t sum up a casual meeting with your teammates in an overly formal tone and don’t send out a recap to executives that sounds like you’re talking to your buddies at happy hour.

As Yurovsky puts it, “knowing your audience makes a big difference there.”

 

Is There a Template I Can Use?

All sound good so far? Cool, now you’re probably ready to get down to it. Here’s a template you can use in part or in whole, depending on the particular situation.

Hi all,

Thanks so much for taking the time to meet about [topic of meeting] today/yesterday. The purpose of the meeting was to [succinct articulation of the meeting goal/purpose].

As a quick recap, we discussed:

  • [A sentence or two about topic or point #1]
  • [A sentence or two about topic or point #2]
  • [A sentence or two about topic or point #3]

We came to the conclusion that:

  • [A sentence or two about conclusion or insight #1]
  • [A sentence or two about conclusion or insight #2]

In order to make this happen, our next steps will be:

  • [Next step #1] – [Name of Owner] will complete by [date]
  • [Next step #2] – [Name of Owner] will complete by [date]
  • [Next step #3] – [Name of Owner] will complete by [date]
  • [Next step #4] – [Name of Owner] will complete by [date]

For reference, see [attached document #1] for [a few words about what’s in document #1 and why it’s relevant] and [attached document #2] for [a few words about what’s in document #2 and why it’s relevant].

We’ll plan to meet again in [amount of time], but please feel free to reach out with any questions, concerns, or relevant updates in the meantime.

Thanks,

[Your Name]

 

What About an Example?

Here’s what that might look like in practice:

Hi all,

Thanks so much for taking the time to meet about our Q3 sales goals earlier. The purpose of the meeting was to get on the same page about our upcoming targets and discuss any changes we can make or steps we can take in the coming weeks ahead of the quarter to help us all be successful.

As a quick recap, we discussed:

  • Some of the challenges we faced in Q2, particularly confusion about the implementation process and timeline for the new product internally as well as with prospects
  • Some of the successful tactics team members employed in Q2 that others might adopt

We came to the conclusion that:

  • We need clarity and additional training around selling the new product in order to be successful in Q3 as well some new collateral materials for internal and external use
  • Since sharing tactics in this meeting felt so helpful, we will test out having biweekly huddles to pass on tricks and tips more frequently

In order to make this happen, our next steps will be:

  • Set up and run training session – Jackie will complete by June 20
  • Create one-sheet for internal use – Rob will complete by June 25
  • Update presentation materials for external use – Jorge will complete by June 30
  • Set up recurring huddles – Quinn will complete by July 1

For reference, see attached the current new product selling document for product info—please reach out with any questions that might be useful to address in new materials—and a document outlining individual, team, and company targets for Q3.

We’ll plan to meet again in two weeks, but please feel free to reach out with any questions, concerns, or relevant updates in the meantime.

Thanks,

Gina

 

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