How you close a meeting can be just as important, if not more important, than how you’ve run the meeting. Much like the closing of a sale or the delivery of a project to a client, the way you end a meeting can have a lasting impact. Whether we’re talking about helping your team to take their next steps, or even ensure that the meeting met its goals, there are certain tactics that will ensure your meetings move your company forward.
1) Are We Done Yet?
Just because the meeting is coming to a close, doesn’t mean the meeting is done. If the people you’re meeting with feel like the topic or issue hasn’t been fully addressed, they will leave the meeting with questions and uncertainty, and they’ll likely discuss their concerns without the full benefit of the group’s input. That can then lead to misalignment and people working in different directions. Not the best way to get things done in an office. Before moving on, ask something to the effect of “does anyone have anything to say before we move on?” If so, talk about them in the open. If not, move on. Or start a staring contest, which may help get people to open up. Try asking people about their emotions if they’re not giving you much. “How do you feel about this?”, “are you comfortable with the plan?” or “is anything about our plan bothering anyone?” are all great ways of getting contributors to identify problems and shows that you’re listening.
2) Get on The Same Page
After discussing an issue at length, you may find that some people are not completely on board with the decision or the sentiment of the group. Just like a rowing crew, you can only speed ahead if everyone is working in the same direction. Ask the group if they’re all genuinely agreed, and if not, invite them to raise their concerns. “Does anyone have any lingering concerns or questions, or are we all on the same page?” is usually a good way of getting people to open up.
3 Commit to Action
Meetings are most effective when they end in an action plan. In order to turn ideas and thoughts into action, you need to get commitments from your team on what each person is going to do. Each commitment must come with deadlines and a specific enough description of what done looks like so as to create accountability. A key question to pose to the group would be something like “by x date, what will be accomplished and who will accomplish it?” You want to make sure that everyone knows who is responsible for accomplishing each of the deliverables. In your meeting notes or follow up email, each deliverable or next step should have a name put next to it. This will not only help each member see what they are responsible for, but it will also sub communicate that everyone else is expecting them to deliver. That creates a subtle social pressure to deliver.
4) Acknowledge contributions
If you want to get smart and thoughtful contributions from your teammates, show them how much you care. Point out the specific things they contributed that were valuable and how those contributions helped. A phrase like “Sarah, your analysis of the TPS reporting process really helped me to understand the opportunity” shows that you not only listened to the specifics, but that you got value out of their contribution. This not only encourages the person you’re acknowledging, but also helps your team to see what kind of contributions are valued.
5) Send out Meeting Notes
It’s easy to forget what was discussed and who is responsible for each deliverable. But if you send out meeting notes, it’s near impossible to lose track. Sending out notes immediately after the meeting, and potentially before you even walk out the door, helps to make sure that everyone has the document they need to hold themselves and their coworkers accountable.
6) Evaluate the Meeting
Running meetings well is a skill, a skill that you can always improve. Your job as a meeting facilitator is to make sure that the meeting serves everyone’s needs. So, to that end, identify what worked well in the meeting and also what could have been improved. Ask your team “regarding the quality of this meeting, what did we do well and what could we have done better?” This not only helps you identify issues, but it also shows your humility and your willingness to improve.
7) End On Time
Ending a meeting on time goes a long way to showing your respect for your coworkers’ time. If you’re using a conference room scheduling software like Roomzilla, you’ll hear an audio alert 5 minutes before your room reservation is set to end. This will give you a heads up that you need to start wrapping up the meeting. When your coworkers see that you respect their time, they will be more likely to give you their time.
What about you? How do you like to end meetings? What do you do at the end of meetings to ensure you and your team are successful?