By Kevin McMahon, director of global marketing, West UC

Collaboration in business is all about progress. Whether in person or by audio, web or video conferencing, we meet to move forward. We meet to make decisions. We meet to reveal new insights and adjust plans. Yet at the end of business meetings, the room often goes silent when the opportunity to ask questions is brought up. This is a lost opportunity to increase productivity and accountability, which is especially important for small businesses who often have limited budgets, resources, and staff that wear multiple hats.

With the world’s largest conferencing services provider executing over 28 billion meeting minutes, worldwide, in 2016, and with more than 10 million business meetings taking place in various forms on any given day in the United States, it’s crucial managers capitalize on the last few minutes of a meeting to ensure it was productive and keep project momentum going. Managers can do this by asking a few questions to ensure all critical topics were discussed, next steps are made clear, to do’s are delegated and opportunities to improve are in hindsight. Here are five questions to ask at the end of a meeting to ensure that there is a clear understanding of the status of a project across the board:

  1. Is there anything we didn’t cover? Cover the ground and review the initial goals. This is5 the perfect opportunity for managers to open up the floor to discussion beyond the agenda, and welcome team members to touch on anything that wasn’t discussed, or to ask for clarity on an aspect of the project. If this is a web meeting, this is also a good opportunity for the meeting moderator to turn over sharing rights to any participants who have a visual to share.
  2. Moving forward, how do we plan to ___? Clarify next steps, holistically. Discuss the progress that needs to be made before the next meeting in order to prevent losing momentum. Create a plan at-large so that individual team members are able to see where they can fit-in and help support. This also empowers team members to step up to the plate, and maybe try something new, instead of simply following orders.
  3. How else could we approach ___? Look for opportunities to improve. Once a clear pathway to the finished project has been set, and team members have had the opportunity to think about where they can fit into the project, managers should ask the group for their perspective. Challenge team members by asking a different way to approach the desired result. This opens up the door to creative thinking, and determines employee engagement.
  4. Who wants to take on ___? Delegate to-do’s. When the optimal route to success has been discussed and agreed upon, each team member should clarify what they’re owning, as well as set internal deadlines so the project can continue on its path to fruition. Managers can help the team stay on track by setting checkpoints in between meetings to ensure progress is made, offering a platform to address questions or concerns that may arise.
  5. How are we willing to change if/when ___? Proactively problem-solve. Discuss what success for this project looks like so everyone’s goals are aligned; that way if the project takes a detour, team members are able to quickly re-route. Team members will likely be able to identify potential issues, so this is a good opportunity to discuss best practices as well as prep the team for a worst case scenario.

Although meeting fatigue continues to be an issue for today’s workforce, most employees would never dream of a world without meetings as a recent West Survey reveals that 86 percent feel they’re necessary. Managers can eliminate the fatigue if they conduct valuable meetings by covering off on all of these questions before a meeting’s end, and will get more from their team members because these questions inadvertently encourage open-ended discussions and empower team members to step up to the plate, instead of just assigning duties. Help put an end to meeting fatigue by engaging, and enlisting the help of all team members to help make them feel more like an integral part of the team, even if they’re on the other side of the screen.

As Director of Global Marketing for West’s Unified Communications Services, Kevin is responsible for guiding long term marketing strategy, demand generation and day to day outreach and communications, ultimately helping the company maintain its position as the leading hosted IP Communications and Unified Communications company in the industry. West was recently recognized by Gartner as a Leader in their magic quadrant for UCaaS, Worldwide, for its strong vision to transform the ways in which businesses communicate, its innovation, agility and, most importantly, its unwavering focus of delivering results for its clients.