Americans spend an average 40 percent of their workday in meetings and the push is on to make those meetings more productive. The often overlooked meeting component is the follow-up and what is necessary for leaders to maintain momentum gained in the meeting once they’re back in the work place. Participants leave without a sense of accomplishment or even a set of actionable next steps.

At Workspring, an offsite meeting center in Chicago, we host customized meeting experiences for teams from innovative companies across the globe and the Fortune 500. From this insight we have the following ideas on how to extend the staying power of the time and effort invested together in your team offsites. It is important to capture meeting outcomes and energy so that team leads can make them actionable once they leave the room.

First, Deliver a Great Meeting Experience
The most successful meetings require deep engagement and active participation from all attendees. These sessions are often grounded by meaningful facilitation and a thoughtfully designed experience incorporating three important steps: 
1. Take time at the start of your session to share and align as a group on your goals of the session. Post these goals in a place where everyone can see them. This will help put everyone on the same page, keeping the meeting focused and forward-moving.
2. Movement keeps teams energized and creative juices flowing. Schedule brief breaks at least every two hours, and include small breakout sessions or even scheduled seat-switching throughout your meeting to keep perspective and energy fresh!
3. Build wrap-up time into your meeting agenda. Synthesis time is critically important and often overlooked. It will help you end the session with team alignment, appreciation for what was accomplished, and a clear picture of where to go moving forward.

Make Your Meeting Actionable
When your meeting is over, you need to know what was discussed, what was discovered, and what you must to do to move forward effectively — as individuals and as a team. During your meeting, color coding ideas to make post-meeting synthesis and planning even faster. For example, if all unassigned to-dos are written on yellow sticky notes, the project planner will have a much easier time pulling those items and quickly creating an actionable plan. Together, you can reclaim time spent on organizing your work and spend it on other, more pressing tasks.

We observed that developing an after-meeting deliverable helps groups meet communication expectations. It gives participants a summary of their work and helps other stakeholders understand what happened offsite. Workspring uses a Digital Data Capture service to transform analog notes, sketches, collages, and more — into a streamlined digital document or After-Action Report.

Also, take photos of your team throughout the day. These images help extend momentum when posted in the office.

Try A Facilitator
Hiring a facilitator can also be very helpful, since part of their job is to synthesize your work and offer objective observations. Through professional facilitation, the group’s collective intelligence emerges and coalesces. No single voice dominates the dialogue, discussion is balanced, and everyone participates comfortably. Ideas are generated, evaluated, and prioritized, and — perhaps most importantly — meeting content and major discussion points are quickly captured, summarized, digitized, and distributed.

Or At Least a Scribe
Increasingly, we see larger groups assign or invite a scribe or production assistant to be part of the meeting, with the express role of capturing team members’ written outputs, ideas, thoughts, and comments. Investing in professional graphic recording, scribing, and animation services transforms meetings and organizational productivity by using business-savvy visualizers to help you explore new ideas, analyze challenges, and envision opportunities — and then carry those into next level discussions.
We have found that purposeful staging of the meeting and a comprehensive

After Action Reports generate greater optimism and energy for the project. People believe they can solve critical problems and gain alignment from others in the company. Better business results are visible due to focused work that generated more ideas and better solutions to a critical problem. And there is, overall, more satisfaction, and buy-in to the work.

Bio: Intrapreneur and Experience Economist Danielle Galmore transforms meeting experiences as managing director at Workspring and serves as director of new business innovation at parent company Steelcase, Inc.

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