The Follow-Up Note


Filled with resources, but far too long, and therefore, likely going completely unread.

In the classes that I teach at NYU, there are 8 sessions, two hours each. I always feel pressed for time. I find myself saying over and over — “I’ll provide some more info on this particular subject in my follow-up note.”

And I do! After each class, I send a note that summarizes the lesson and provides links to the various companies, websites, social media profiles and articles mentioned during the lecture. I always feel like these follow-up notes are extremely valuable to the students.

There’s just one problem: I don’t think the students actually read the notes. Why? For the very simple reason that they’re just too damn long.

I get it. The students came to the class, listened to the lecture, participated in the discussion, and they’ve got some homework to do — Or maybe they just want to dive into something that intrigued them from the class — a website or a company or an author they jotted down on their notepad to remind them to check it out once they got home. The last thing they want to do is pore over a follow-up note — one that rings of “I’ve heard all this before” — that scrolls on endlessly.

And yet, I can’t help but want to include summaries and links, and other things that they should check out, items that I wasn’t even able to get to in class.

But no more. And this goes for the workplace as well. I’m keeping the follow-up notes brief, and to the point. They’re more likely to be read, and therefore acted upon. In short, they’ll actually have an impact.

With that in mind, here is my follow-up note to this post about follow-up notes:

1. No more than three items in the follow-up note, just a few sentences each, though one sentence is fine. Each item should only have one link.

2. If you really feel you need to say more, then write it out as an essay or blog post, and simply provide a link to the piece in the follow-up note. (This counts as one of the three items).

3. Always include an immediately doable action item to encourage forward progress.

That’s it! End of note.

Do share via Twitter your follow-up response to this post on “the follow-up note” — @jeffyamaguchi. Keep it short, of course!