A Full Guide To Mastering Effective Meeting Recaps and Follow-Up Emails
9 August 2021
Do you have meetings that you think were effective, useful, and productive, yet find later people have lots of questions about what happened? Do people not know what they need to be doing immediately after? Perhaps you struggle to get responses after a few days from your clients and colleagues? Not getting the right information from your email chains?
These are signs that you need to make a good meeting recap and follow-up emails. If you want to know how to send a follow-up email and a good meeting recap, then read on!
We have created a guide for you to craft a perfect meeting recap and follow up letter. We will give tips to craft the email, suggest some tools to help what you shouldn’t do, and give a follow up email sample. After reading this article, you should be able to get the most from your meetings and after meeting email chains.
What is a Meeting Recap and Why You Should Compose It?
A meeting recap is in the name. It is a meeting summary that provides an overview of what was on the agenda, identifies the action points and sends them to the relevant participants.
It has several benefits:
Keeps people informed
If you don’t compose this meeting recap, you will find that people are unsure of what needs to be done next, and important details will be lost.
The recap email provides a good historical record, as it gives information that can be searched and found, which shows that all necessary communication was made, that the meetings that needed to be held were held, and people know who is responsible for certain tasks.
If people are unsure of who is responsible, or perhaps worried about a lack of transparency, the meeting recap email will help address these reasonable concerns. The main point of these is to ensure that everyone is clear on what took place, all participants know what needs to be done next, and this, in turn, guarantees accountability and that the meeting was a good use of time.
What is a follow-up email?
A follow-up message is when you are waiting for some information or response after a meeting, and you need to get some answer. Perhaps this is a client, or you’re waiting to hear progress from a colleague on their work, and they haven’t responded.
These types of emails do have some similarities to the recap meeting, as they are both about meetings that happened in the past, but it has a different goal. The goal here is to get some specific information, however, like the recap email, it requires an element of summarization.
What to include in a recap email?
The recap email should include:
A thank you
Say thanks to those who attended, and start the email with a friendly tone. Meetings take time out of people’s day, and people can get sick and tired of them. If they feel appreciated for attending, they will most likely attend future meetings as well.
Summary of agenda
The agenda, which should have been sent before the meeting as well, should be sent as part of the follow-up email. Any discussion of the items and how they will be addressed should also be included. This way, everyone knows what was talked about, and what is to be done next.
Action items should be included as part of the email, but also tagged should be those who have to deal with them. This way, everyone knows what is to be done, by who, when, and why.
Relevant documents and data
Any documents that were presented in the meeting, such as data, statistics, presentations etc. should be attached to the email for review. So if anyone missed the meeting, or wants to double-check something, they can have a close look.
A reminder of the next meeting
Finally, add a reminder of the next meeting. You don’t want people forgetting when the meetings are, and ideally, it should be added to any calendar software you use, so people know when the meeting will be, what the agenda will be, and what needs to be done beforehand.
What should follow-up emails include?
Follow-up emails should include the following:
A thank you
This starts the conversation in a good tone and prevents them from feeling like they are being hassled.
A brief summary of the previous meeting
This should remind them of what was spoken about and will jog their memory to provide you with the right information
A polite request and reminder
It should end with a polite inquiry as to what is needed from you, and this should be direct, honest, and polite.
Who is responsible for the meeting recap?
Generally, the task of writing the meeting recap should be assigned to one particular person, who takes responsibility for the organization of the meeting. This can be the project leader, manager, or executive. This person should follow and understand the content of the meeting, be able to take meetings notes, and be familiar with the software to help communicate the key points of the meeting.
Consider using software to record the meeting to automatically transcribe the meeting notes and extract action items that can be communicated to the team immediately. This will lessen the burden from you or whoever is recording and get the best notes possible.
Who should receive the recap email?
Look at the list of attendees for the meeting. They should receive the summary of the meeting. Action items should also specifically go to those who need to undertake the particular task. In addition, consider anyone else who didn’t attend the meeting but is related to the project, so they know everything that was said and any news that may affect their work.
How Long Should You Wait Before Sending a Meeting Follow Up Letter or Meeting Recap?
You should send the thank-you email with the recap after the meeting as soon as possible, with the key information included. The average worker sends around 40 emails and receives 120 per day, so it’s easy to get lost in this horde of information. If you wait too long, it will be forgotten about by the attendees, and when it comes to writing it, you will miss details you forgot about, and the action items are now late.
However, this does not mean that they need to be rushed. Try to make sure you have all the key information, action items, and relevant people involved. Proofread a couple of times, and then send them. Ideally, a few hours after the meeting when it’s still fresh in your mind, but you’ve double-checked sufficiently.
A meeting follow-up email should be sent ideally two or three days after the meeting. This is to check in after giving the attendee time to reflect on the meeting. It is also worth considering sending a second follow-up email after no response if you want confirmation of receipt. Do not send this chaser email after the first day, rather give it some time, and you will find the response rate may actually then increase. If it has been ignored, there is probably some priority on the other end, and overloading too soon will also be lost again.
Mistakes in Emails: What You DO NOT Need to Do
We explained what you should include, who to write to, and when to write the email. While these are absolutely important, it is just as vital to know what not to do in an email. Avoid the following mistakes next time you are writing a recap or follow-up email:
Send too brief an email
Today we discussed the budget, how the product is coming along, and John and Sarah both know what they need to do next.
See you next time”
This would be a disastrous email for several reasons. We do not know what was said about the budget or the product first of all, so how can anyone who didn’t attend the meeting know what the project status is.
Next, there is no thank you for anyone who came, so people who did attend won’t feel particularly appreciated taking their time out.
Thirdly, we have no summary of what it is John and Sarah need to do, so they may not be clear and no one else knows what they are working on next.
The closing remark is short on details, and there is no reminder of the date of the next meeting.
Finally, and a minor point, the tone is very brief, and the grammar is very basic, it does not look like it has been proofread. All of this is why details and a bit of time spent on email crafting are so important.
Let me know what you think since the last time we spoke.
This follow-up letter is equally overly short and underwhelming. There is no basis of communication, no details on what the email writer is after here. If it was a client, there is no attempt to persuade or engage the client, and they will not feel happy. If it was a colleague, then again, they may have no idea what the email wants. We will give you later a follow-up email sample.
Send too long or wordy emails
“Good evening everyone,
Thank you so much for taking the time to come to the meeting on this day. I know you are all very busy, and with working from home it can be extra difficult to attend meetings, as I know many of you have families and other commitments. In today’s meeting, which took place at 11 o’clock on the 17th of June, we discussed how we can improve the budget, and James suggested that to cut costs we could outsource to another company on the development side, but John suggested that this would be to the detriment of controlling the development. John and Sarah both have lots to do, they have to write up a report on the current state of the product, and provide a full customer profile when they will detail their needs, budget, problems, and preferred social media. The next meeting will be on the first Thursday of the next month.
Claire from HR"
Now, in this instance, we have the opposite problem. While it does follow the general pattern in including what should be included in the email, we can see an overly wordy summary. It generally could be written much more efficiently, the thank you particularly did not need to be quite so long.
It also is written in one solid block of text, this is not easy to read and will turn people off reading past the first line. The action items went into too much detail, it would have been preferable to write “Customer profile report to be written by John and Sarah” for example, and the details sent separately.
"Good afternoon Timothy,
I am glad we had the pleasure to discuss such an important matter the other day of whether you think our business can offer a solution to people in your situation. I agree with everything you said and have been reflecting on it a lot. I would be most grateful if you could oblige me with your further thoughts on collaboration in the future. Please write to me in detail about everything you think, and we can arrange another meeting in the future, I am sure.
This is very wordy, flowery, and not very specific either. For a meeting follow-up, while politeness is a key asset, it just sounds unnecessarily lengthy. It would be better if the writer were more efficient.
Send too many emails
In addition to writing overly long emails, being overloaded with emails is a problem. Whether it’s because you made mistakes due to a lack of proofing, or because you’re eager for responses, you may end up sending too many emails. This means people will skip or miss emails with important information, will turn off notifications, and generally pay less attention to them.
These are important emails and people need to read them, so do all you can to help them. Send one as soon as you can after the meeting, and if you need to send a second to follow up again, give it a few days.
Send to the wrong people
To lessen the load of emails, make sure you only send them to the right people. Do all the employees need to know each and every meeting that took place? No. Do developers need to know the finer details of a marketing meeting? Probably not. Do the senior executives need to know the content of the meeting or is this something for more junior members? These are questions you should consider.
When making a recap email, think, who is involved in the project, who attended or was invited to the meeting, and who has to do something as a result of the meeting. They should receive the summary. Anyone else, it will just be annoying, and when they receive summaries of meetings they should see, they will more likely ignore.
Just because you sent the email does not mean people read it. Or that because you said the time of the next meeting, people will remember. Maybe people didn’t receive it. Maybe they pretended to read it.
What can you do about this? Communicate well, but add things such as dates attached to calendars with the next meeting. Send all the action items and meeting notes through other programs, such as Slack, or any other software you use. It doesn’t have to be another entire email, but the core action items and discussed items from the meetings. This will make it easier for the attendees to receive the information and to ensure that nothing is missed.
When it comes to meeting follow-ups, ensure that the important details are mentioned again. You can’t assume what has been remembered whatsoever if you wish to achieve good results.
Give a whole transcription
Transcribing meetings is good for records. But sending an entire transcript, or recording of the meeting would mean the attendees have to spend more time just trying to find some important information. Imagine you’re on a Friday afternoon after a meeting, ready to go home (or turn off your laptop if you work from home) and now you have to spend an hour reading or listening through the meeting you just attended, this would be a tedious task many people don’t want to do.
What can you do to fix this problem? Use software like Notiv to isolate and transcribe the key action items and topics covered in a meeting. This can give short, easy to read summaries of the meetings, and everyone knows what happened and what needs to be done next.
Here we have a range of other tips to consider when crafting your emails.
We’ve mentioned it a couple of times, but it is a tip on its own. Integrate your emails and the follow-up information with other apps and software. For example, Notiv can send out action items immediately after the calls, wherever they took place, to send to Slack. This will ensure everyone knows what to do.
Attach the next meeting date invitation to calendars, such as Google Calendar, create the invites for the next meeting immediately (with zoom for example), and send out action items with other software such as Slack. MS Teams for example allows you to send out invitations in emails, and they click attending, and it syncs automatically with the windows calendar. You can also use software such as Calendar which compiles all your various calendars together.
Automate the transcribing process, to make better meeting notes. You don’t want to be too distracted in the meeting writing everything down, so while you can follow some tips, you should enlist the help of software to guarantee nothing is missed. Send out automatic reminders, so you can keep people in the loop, that way you won’t word about forgetting anything yourself!
When you write your emails, remember a lot of people check their emails on their phones. Movable Ink reported that 62% of emails are read on mobiles! Making sure emails are mobile-friendly is a great way to make sure people read them easily. How can you do this?
Have short subject lines, to make it easier to read at first glance and to ensure people open the email
Have spaces between links, because on mobiles it is easy to accidentally press the wrong links.
Avoid large photos and other interactive visuals, because on mobiles they may ruin the structure of the email and be difficult to see.
Use larger fonts, to make it easy to read on the smaller screens.
“I hope this email finds you well”
How many times do you read this and groan? Other phrases that are most hated, according to one survey, were “Kind regards” and “As per my last email”. Put some creativity when writing your email, and try to write like an actual human being, and people will pay more attention. The best greetings, for example, were simple phrases like “Hi” and “Good morning/afternoon”. Keep them simple, real, and sincere.
Meeting Recap and Follow-Up Emails: Template and Samples
So, how to best summarize a meeting? And what does a great follow-up email look like? Here we will provide some examples you should follow. Do this, and people will read your emails, remember them, and follow the action items!
Here is a general template you should follow when crafting your email. This should serve as a good starting point when creating your emails:
Thank you so much for attending [meeting name] today. We covered a lot of good ground, such as (brief summary of topics). Great work!
Here is a summary of the meeting:
1. Talking point A
2. Talking point B
3. Talking point C
These are the main action items to be undertaken. These will be sent as well via (communication tool):
1. [name] will do [task] by [Deadline Date]
2. [name] will do [task].[Deadline Date]
(optional) In addition, attached are the (presentations/data/other documents) for reviewing.
Our next meeting will take place via (software), on the (date) and the invitations will be sent shortly/have been sent with this email.
Have a great day!
Here we have provided a follow-up email template:
Good morning/afternoon (name/s)
Thanks for taking the time the other day to chat about (the topic at the previous meeting).
We had a good conversation and I think we have some other things to talk about. I remember you saying (give an example of an important topic covered) and I shared with you (some important details of what you discussed).
I just want to check in on (what you need to hear from them). Let me know as soon as you can, and we can arrange another chat.
Have a great day
So let’s take a look at how these templates would look like filled in:
Thank you all for attending the meeting this morning. We got through the agenda and made great progress on some important topics, including marketing direction and the budget for the department. Good job!
In today’s meeting, we discussed the state of the market research on our new products. We reviewed what tasks had been completed since the previous meeting and listed additional tasks that need to be done. Here are more details on these discussions:
John has a basic breakdown of three types of consumers of our product
The team decided we should focus on all three of these consumers, but tailor different marketing for them.
Sarah shared some key updates on the budget, sharing areas we need to reduce overheads, and others that have a surplus
The following action items are to be completed:
John is to develop a fuller outline of our key market, with help from marketing. Deadline: July 5th.
Reid will come up with a content plan. Deadline: July 15th
Sarah will discuss with the accountancy department and HR to discuss reallocation of funds. Deadline: July 9th
The action items will be sent also via Slack.
Our next meeting will be on July 20th, a Zoom link has been attached.
Please contact me if you have any questions.
You see how in this email, the spacing is nice and clear, so people can read it easily. It follows a clear logical structure, is friendly, provides sufficient detail but does not overwhelm, and covers everything we have talked about. Follow this structure, and you will write some killer emails!
Good morning Jeremy,
Thanks for taking the time the other day to chat about our software. We had a good conversation and I think we have some other things to talk about.
I remember you saying that your company are having around 5 meetings a week per person, that they go on very long, and I shared with you how our software can help them be more productive.
I just want to check in on when you are able to speak to me about the next steps. Let me know as soon as you can, and we can arrange another chat on Zoom.
Have a great day
Here it is friendly, but straight to the point. It summarizes what was discussed, so the recipient remembers, and they know exactly what is needed from this email quickly. It could be longer if necessary, and more details are needed, but this is the type of email you should be writing.
In this article, we explained why you should write a meeting recap and follow-up email. We explained what should be included, who to contact, what you shouldn’t do, and provided some other advice, as well as recap and follow-up email samples you can follow. We hope you can now write these follow up letters and recap emails with confidence and know exactly why you need to spend a bit of time to make these.
Notiv provides software to help you craft meeting agendas, share action items, and summarize meeting notes with AI. Learn more about Notiv today.
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