Meetings take up a lot of your workday so you want to protect the time you’re investing. Those final minutes often determine how productive your session will be. Learn how to end a meeting in a way that delivers the results you’re looking for.
Ending Meetings on Time
The most obvious measure of success is finishing your meeting when you said you would. Develop a reputation for respecting your colleagues’ time by staying on schedule.
1. Limit the participants. Shorten your invitation list to include only those employees who really need to be there. The conversation will likely be briefer, and staff members may feel more accountable if it’s impossible to become lost in the crowd
2. Circulate an agenda. Put together an agenda that lets participants know what to expect. Welcome questions and comments that can resolve issues immediately.
3. Send reading materials in advance. Let your colleagues read over sales figures and white papers at their convenience instead of holding up the meeting while they browse through their handouts. As a bonus, they’ll probably pay more attention.
4. Start on time. Depending on your organizational culture, you may be able to enforce strict starting times. In any case, you can arrange meetings at the most convenient time possible, and let it be known that you reward punctuality with donuts.
5. Perform a time check. Appoint one employee to monitor the allotted time for each topic. Adjust the schedule, if necessary, rather than rushing at the end or leaving unfinished business.
6. Express appreciation. Finishing on time is a group effort. Thank each employee for contributing.
Following Up on Meetings
The long-term impact of a meeting depends on what happens afterwards. Ensure that your colleagues leave the room prepared for what they need to do.
1. Aim for consensus. Follow up is easier when the entire office is on the same page. Ask questions that encourage employees to express concerns and questions.
2. Create individual assignments. Give your colleagues the opportunity to take initiative, and leverage their personal strengths. Go around the table so participants can share what they’re putting on their to-do lists. Hand out assignments for any remaining items.
3. Set deadlines. Employees will probably act more promptly if they have a specific deadline for their responsibilities. Timelines also make it simpler to coordinate tasks that are interdependent.
4. Exchange contact information. If your participants come from different organizations, you may want to post contact information on your website or another convenient location. That way your colleagues can stay in touch.
5. Bring your schedule. It often takes more than one session to hash out the details and fulfill your goals. While you’re still together in one place, check your calendars to pencil in your next meeting or check potential dates for the next year. Bring a master calendar so you can avoid holidays, major conventions, and other conflicts.
6. Evaluate your activities. Making your meetings more effective is a complicated and ongoing task that depends on solid data. Ask participants what is working well for them and what they would like to change.
7. Reward progress. Share the credit for a job well done. Recognize employees who have made special contributions. Thank the whole group for helping your meetings to run smoothly and achieve their desired impact.
If you’re tired of discussing the same topics over and over or wondering whatever became of that casual Friday policy your boss once mentioned, learn to close meetings more effectively. Clearer interactions will help you move your business objectives forward, and maybe spend less time in meetings.