How to End a Meeting: 3 Tips for the Last 5 Minutes

In a previous post I talked about how to start a meeting. Any professional speaker and stand up comic will tell you to use your best material for the first and last 5 minutes of the performance. So, it only makes sense that I share my best tips for how to end a meeting.

ending a meeting like scattered billiard balls

by JAS_photo

So why is ending a meeting such big of a deal? The meeting reaches its natural conclusion and then the team scatters like billiard balls back to their desks, right?

Just as starting a meeting sets the tone for the meeting, how you end a meeting sets the tone for the rest of the day or the rest of the project.

Next Action Steps:

Many leaders know to go over the next action steps and deadlines before the team leaves. But, here’s where they go wrong. It’s usually the leader who goes around the table and explains who should do what by when.

Time for a little communication wizardry tip.

You should have your team members explain their next action steps and deadlines.

Why? A few reasons.

First, when they share their list of to-do items, you can cross reference with your notes to see if they missed anything.

Second, when they say what they are going to do next, you have an opportunity to listen. Pay attention to their language, tone, and body language. Does what they say match up to your perspective? Do you believe they have “bought in” to the idea? Is their body language congruent with what they are saying?

This is your chance to do some damage control.

If you sense that they are going to drag their feet because they haven’t “bought in,” then you can make a point to check in with them in a few days. If you feel a lack of motivation, you can schedule a time to talk and see what’s going on. Maybe they need a little morale boost. Maybe there’s a dynamic you are unaware of.

You would miss out on all this valuable information if you only dictate the do to list at the end of the meeting.

Share the love:

For some reason recognition is something that many companies reserve for quarterly meetings. Who was the rockstar these last few months?

Recognition and praise should be on your mental checklist for every meeting. You can always find somebody doing something right. Just mention it.

Saying things like, “I’m loving the go-get-’em attitude Janice!” or “Thank you for your thoughtful contributions today Charlie,” can really go a long way.

It is easy to get caught up in the pile of deadlines and think that there will be high-fives and group hugs when everything is done, but that rarely happens. Once one item or project is completed, another one is right around the corner about to run you over.

That’s why it’s important to make it a point to leave the meeting on a positive note.

The Big Picture:

by darkmatter

by darkmatter

As I mentioned in How to Start a Meeting, your team wants to know how their work fits into the big picture. People always want to feel like they are working towards a higher purpose, not just drowning in daily to do’s.

Just as in the beginning of the meeting, make a few comments about how today’s meeting will help improve the organization, the workforce, the culture, the bottom line, whatever it may be.

Leaving with a sense of purpose is much more motivating than “Okay, that’s over. What’s next?”

Would love to hear your comments in the section below! How have you seen people end meetings successfully? …Or poorly?



1 Comment

  1. Shaina

    Love these tips on how to end a meeting! I associated the ‘start and end impact’ for presentations and even emails – get their attention and what do you want the audience to “take-away”. However, it didn’t really occur to me for day-to-day meetings. These happen informally all the time from small to large issues that impact the efforts of a team or project, usually discussing the meat of problems and how to resolve them, so it is just as important to ensure meetings are effective and moral boosting for the members involved. My focus for meetings is usually on developing the agenda (purpose and objectives), documenting notes, obtaining the status on scheduled activities, and next action items for follow-up. Even summing up at the end of the meeting with the action items noted, and/or sending later for review and comment (i.e. anything missed, misinterpreted, etc) doesn’t always tell me of their level of alignment or if they review them later in their busy schedules. As you stated, this could mean missed opportunities for further discussion to make sure everyone: knows they are being heard, is on the same page, or brings forth information that could impact the project (improvements to implement, other considerations with negative impact, etc). I agree with all the work going on it can be easy to lose site of the big picture, and not utilizing public recognition in day-to-day meetings is a missed opportunity. Upon thinking back, I have seen this used in some meetings and it works well – the delivery/execution is important too in order for it to be received as intended. I will definitely be keeping this in mind to implement in upcoming meetings. Thanks for sharing!



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