December 2023

Productivity Hacks

How to Create Action Items and Maximize Meeting Impact?

Maximize your meeting impact with our concise guide on creating effective action items. Learn to transform discussions into clear, actionable tasks with simple strategies and AI tools like jamie. Perfect for enhancing productivity in any meeting setting.

Founder Associate

How to Create Action Items and Maximize Meeting Impact?

Meetings can be challenging, but they offer a valuable opportunity to organize our work and collaborate with our colleagues.

However, the most crucial part of any meeting is what happens after it's over. If you’re leaving a call, unsure what to do next, something went wrong.

That's where an action items list can come in handy. In short: it's a great way to make sure that everything that needs to be done actually gets done.

Now, let's see how to create one. 👇

What are Action Items?

An action item is a specific task that arises during a meeting and is assigned to a team member to help achieve the project's larger goals.

It's a way to turn lengthy meeting discussions into clear, documented tasks that indicate action should be taken. These tasks are typically included in the meeting minutes.

You might wonder now if action items are the same thing as a to-do list. In a way, they're the same because they both aim to accomplish something, but there are some differences. 

To-do lists are more flexible, while action items usually follow a specific pattern. Most often, it’s the 3W framework (what, who, when).

Every action item you make using this framework should include these three elements:

  • What: This tells you what needs to be done.
  • Who: This states who is responsible for doing the task.
  • When: This sets the deadline or timeframe for finishing the task.

For example, you could write, "Grace needs to schedule a retrospective meeting in 10 days." That way, you know that Grace(who?) needs to set up a retrospective meeting(what?) in 10 days(when?).

There are other approaches to creating an action items list too, like SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound). However, most people usually prefer the 3W framework.

Does it mean that you have to follow a specific pattern? Not exactly. It is a set of best practices on how to structure your meeting notes. You can try different patterns, keep it simple, or add more information.

No matter the framework you decide to use, make sure that your action items contain all the necessary information while still being concise.

How to Create Action Items?

Now, let's discuss two ways to create action items: you can speed up the process with AI tools or do it manually:

Using AI Meeting Assistants

Using AI assistants can be a huge help when creating action items during meetings. It's because they can automate the entire process.

That means you don't have to worry about remembering every little thing being discussed. Instead, you can just focus on chatting with your colleagues and let the AI assistant take care of the rest.

Let’s walk through the entire process; you will see it’s very simple. 

We'll be using jamie as the tool for demonstration. You can simply start it at the start of your meeting by clicking on the button "Start jamie".

Once the meeting is over, jamie will start generating your summary, along with action items from your meeting.

Now, you can take a moment to manage your action items. If you need to make any changes, just add new tasks, edit them, or remove unnecessary ones.

You can also mark completed tasks as "done" to track your progress.

You'll also have access to decisions discussed in a meeting. This is not the same thing as tasks, but it's a useful addition. Listing all the decisions made lets you get a bigger picture of the meeting.

As you can see, with the right tools, you can create and manage meeting tasks within seconds. It's a very convenient way to help keep the momentum going after a meeting is over.

DIY Method

If you prefer to create action items on your own, that's perfectly fine, too. It might take longer, but this method can work well for you if you need to write more detailed and lengthier tasks than usual.

Here's how you can do it yourself using the 3W framework:

Step #1. Task Analysis (What)

If you want to create good action items, start with the “what”.

Be specific so that the person reading it knows exactly what needs to be done without asking follow-up questions. This will help avoid confusion and unnecessary back-and-forth.

Also, ensure that the task is measurable so that you can determine when it is completed.

For example, if you ask someone to schedule a meeting without specifying which one, they might not know which meeting you're referring to and end up getting stuck. To ensure everyone is on the same page, include the name or type of the meeting in the task description.

So, instead of saying, "Brian should schedule a meeting," you could say, "Brian should schedule a stakeholder meeting." It’s a small change, but it can make a big difference.

Step #2. Assigning Responsibilities (Who)

It's equally important to pick the right person for the job. You have to ensure they have all the necessary information and resources to get it done right.

Before you assign a task, chat with the person you're setting it to. This way, you can make sure they will know what's expected and have no questions.

Also, avoid overloading one person with too many tasks. This can be overwhelming and may lead to poor results.

Step #3. Setting Deadlines (When)

Once you have written a clear task description and assigned the right person, there is still another crucial component left - time. 

Be realistic, even if there is very little time. Make sure to set the deadline during the meeting, as it will be easier to assign the appropriate person and the correct timeframe.

Step #4. Establish Priority and Add a Status

Prioritizing your action items based on their urgency and assigning statuses to each meeting task will help you clear your task list more efficiently.

This practice makes it easier to know which tasks are more critical and what needs to be done first. Just using simple statuses like “todo”, “in progress”, and “done” can make a big difference.

It's especially helpful when some tasks need to be completed before others can be started.

Step #5. Share Action Items with Everyone

After the call, share the action items with other meeting participants to ensure everyone is on the same page.

You can use a collaborative workspace like Notion to make reviewing and editing the action items easier. This way, everyone can stay updated and make edits in real time.

Step #6. Track Action Items

It's not enough to simply write action items; you should also monitor their progress.

By doing so, you can identify which team members have the capacity to take on more tasks or determine the amount of time it takes to complete certain jobs.

And, if any action items are left unfinished, carry them over to the next meeting and notify others that some tasks need their attention.


What's the Secret to a Great Action Item?

Everyone can have their own system that works, but generally, a great action item should be:

  • specific,
  • assigned to the right person,
  • have a realistic due date. 

If any of these components are missing, the action item may become problematic and remain in the "in progress" status for too long, which we want to avoid. 

If you are still struggling with writing helpful action items, consider making them SMART goals and ensure they are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based.

You may also find it helpful to use a meeting agenda or template. With a well-organized meeting, it should be easier to assign action items.

Which Tools Are Best for Handling Action Items?

If you want, you can use software to help you create meeting tasks and action items in a few different ways.

Instead of doing all the boring task management yourself, why not delegate it to an AI-powered assistant like jamie? This way, you can focus on running an effective meeting without wasting any time.

You can also use meeting management software to organize and share your list of action items.

Alternatively, you may document them yourself and use collaborative workspaces like Notion to make the process smoother. It will help you share your notes with others, make real-time edits, and monitor their progress.

What Are the Benefits of Creating Action Items?

Action items are a great way to complement meetings and keep the momentum going. 

By setting the right action plan, you ensure that all attendees leave the meeting knowing what to do next.

This is an effective way to track your progress and ensure that you can achieve your goals.

Final Words

And that’s it! Now, you should have a better understanding of how to create action items. 

By using AI, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort. However, if you want to write meeting tasks manually, it can also work.

Hopefully, this information will help you improve your meeting management skills.

Good luck!

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