How to Make an Annual Meeting Better Next Year

You worked hard to plan and execute a stellar event. Now, it's over. But how did it go? And more importantly: How can you do better next time? To find out, you should go straight to the horse's mouth, says Successful Meetings contributor Margie Mauldin.

"Whatever their purpose, most meetings end with an action plan, sometimes elaborately spelled-out, other times little more than an enthusiastic, 'Go forth and make it happen!' I advise meeting leaders and organizers to add another, equally crucial, item to the post-meeting mix: feedback," Mauldin says. "I'm talking about far more than the typical what-did-you-think-of-the-meeting evaluation sheets left on participants' chairs. Those provide grades and impressions, which have their purpose. But we want to dig a little deeper for actionable feedback aimed toward improvement."

To get the kind of feedback she advises. Mauldin suggests convening with your team a "formal, scheduled feedback session whose focus is the meeting itself."

"Such a session provides the opportunity to discover: what your team members found valuable about the meeting; what aspects of the meeting went off the tracks (you'll know in advance, of course, if any did); what could be improved in the next meeting; [and] what, if anything, the participants found missing or lacking in the meeting," Mauldin explains.

It's the meetings equivalent of a post-game analysis in sports: It's a chance to watch footage from the game, look for missed opportunities and brainstorm new plays that will help you avoid the same missteps next time.