In my previous post, I gave you some tips on how to start a meeting to set it up for success. Today, it’s the other bookend—how to end a meeting to capture the value that was created. Take a look at the Right Words to Say video here:
- Leave 10% of any meeting for wrap up. Take this seriously by setting a timer with an alarm to go off with 10% left. Set the rule that the person speaking wraps up and other contributions are held for the next meeting. “I know a couple of people were still in line to speak, is this something we can continue over email or should we schedule time to discuss this issue again?” This will seem harsh at first, but the alternative is to waste the efforts invested in 90% of the meeting because you don’t land them. Resist the urge to cram in a few new ideas!
- Review each agenda item and restate the outcomes. For each item, mention the purpose of the conversation, any decisions that were made, and the next steps, owner and timelines for what needs to be done. (Be prepared that stating these things explicitly might expose misalignment that requires clarification and sometimes even an additional meeting.)
- Agree on what you will communicate. Too often, it’s left to individual discretion of the people around the table to decide what they will and won’t communicate. That’s a dangerous chance for misalignment. Instead, create the high-level themes that people should communicate and decide with whom they should be shared. Just as importantly, decide what isn’t ready to be communicated and agree that those issues will be kept within the team until further notice.
- Take one minute to check in on the meeting itself. “How did we do? Was the time used wisely? Were we paying attention to the right things? Did we get to the outcomes we needed? Did we follow our own ground rules?” You don’t need a 72-item survey, but getting a quick gauge from participants and some thoughts on how to improve things for next time is a good habit to get into.
- Say thank you. If you’re trying to encourage new and more effective meeting behavior, take a moment at the end of the meeting to reinforce any positive changes. For example “thanks for being so open about the tough issues today, I appreciate your candor.” Or “thanks for sticking only to the strategic issues and leaving the operational updates for our Tuesday meetings.”
So much time is spent in meetings that it’s a shame that progress is often lost because no one summarizes the outcomes and actions that need to follow. Don’t let that happen in your meetings. Reserve some time to ensure alignment on decisions and actions and their owners. And invest in making future meetings better by calling out kudos and areas for improvement.
Do you have questions about how to contribute to a high performing team, don’t be shy. Use the comments section or the contact box to send them in.