A smart guide to action points

Important assets to make your meetings more productive.

One of the most important aspects that should come out of a meeting are action points. Meetings are seen by some as a waste of time, but by using action points and developing an action plan, we can make meetings more productive and worthwhile. Meetings are actually a strategic part of the workday if organized in an effective and organized manner. It is important therefore to find a system that works for you and allows you to keep track of the timeline of these action points and ensure that they get brought to completion.

SMART Action Points

In order for action points to be effective they need to be SMART: Specific; Measurable; Agreed; Realistic and Time-bound.

S is for Specific

Action points need to be concise, written in as few words possible. However conciseness should not be mistaken for unclearness. If the sentence is too abbreviated, it becomes more difficult to understand what needs to be done. It is essential to remember that it has to be an ACTION, so a verb needs to be in there. It is also better to avoid grouping multiple actions in one point and to break it down into individual ones and possibly turn it into an action plan.

M is for Measurable

The action needs to be built in a way that it’s possible to check/measure the prestation after the action is carried out. It needs to be a clear action that can be marked as completed once it is done.

A is for Agreed

The team needs to know who is in charge of each action: some may be assigned through a volunteering system, others will need to be directly designated to someone specific based on particular skills or experience.

R is for Realistic

The actions need to be realistic and achievable. It’s not very productive to assign someone a task they are not able to complete because of a lack of the needed skills or because it is simply impossible to achieve.

T is for Time-bound

Every action needs to have a deadline. This will help monitor progress on the action and realize if the person in charge of it has what it takes to complete it. For this specific point, it’s helpful to assign to someone (not necessarily the person in charge of the action) the task of ensuring the action is completing and reporting its completion once it is reached. Also by making sure the action, along with who is in charge of it and the deadline, is visible to everyone in a team platform, there will be higher chances of it getting done on time.

Note taken, but how do I write an efficient list of action items?

We have learned how to make action points SMART, but what is the best way to actually write down a list of these actions and in which order do all the items mentioned above need to be approached?

The list should answer these 5 simple questions:

  • What is the task? (This question will help you reach the specific aspect of your action point);
  • Why is it a priority? (It helps to specify why the action is important, to show that it is not busywork, but a crucial piece of the puzzle);
  • What is the deadline? (This question will help you reach the time-bound aspect of your action point);
  • Who is it assigned to? (This question will help you reach the agreed aspect of your action point);
  • What is the next step? (The work should not stop after the action is completed, so leave room for further development or a connection to the next action).