This quick reference tool is intended for employees at all levels who want to learn how to effectively conclude a meeting. It provides strategies to plan how to end a meeting well, articulate a sense of progress, determine next steps, and assess the value of the meeting.
We put a lot of effort into preparing well and setting the stage for facilitating good collaboration. By being intentional about how we conclude meetings, we can make sure we are building a sense of shared responsibility toward the outcomes we are seeking. Concluding well solidifies shared responsibility for moving from discussion and decision to action.
A strong conclusion also begins with preparation. The conclusion highlights progress, clarifies next steps, and conveys a sense of meaning. Here are some ideas for concluding your meeting.
Concluding well begins with preparation
- As you prepare, make sure you have established shared objectives for your meeting. This helps keep participants focused on the outcomes and help them take relevant notes.
- By the time you are ready to conclude, you will have already summarized the discussion relating to each topic on your agenda, and made related decisions.
- Schedule your meeting, and time your discussions, to allow enough time to conclude the session in such a way that people can focus on the discussion, instead of worrying about preparing, or being late for, their next meeting.
First, help the group articulate a sense of progress
- Highlight the topics the group has discussed and how they have collaborated. By creating a space for participants to share what they heard, and connect it with their own next steps, they are more likely to take action.
- If a meeting host or senior official is present, consider having them take on this role.
- Consider including time for a final roundtable where participants are invited to share a final remark or two. This is also an excellent opportunity to thank participants and acknowledge their individual contributions and efforts.
Then, establish a plan for next steps
- Having a clear plan for next steps provides the group with a record of their shared responsibility to move forward.
- Consider creating a chart or graphic outlining who has committed to take on each task and the deadline by which they agree to complete it (who, what, and by when).
- Discuss the criteria used for determining when each task will be done. This way, participants agree on what this means.
Finally, help people assess the value of the meeting
- Before closing, take a moment to check on whether the meeting or session design met participants' objectives. This way you can gauge their sense of progress and accomplishment.
- Consider setting aside a moment for shared reflection. For example, offer questions such as: What surprised you? What's a question you are leaving with? What's one action you intend to take in the coming days? What's one thing that would make this meeting feel complete for you?
- Invite participants to reflect on what they have accomplished before moving on.