Whether or not you’re a fan of meetings, they’re an essential part of many modern workplaces. Does it seem like the meetings you hold aren’t as effective as you want them to be? Blame it on the way you end your meetings. The five following steps will help you end your meetings more effectively.
1. Provide Key Takeaways: Before the meeting is over, refresh everyone’s memory of the key takeaways they should keep in mind from that meeting. Sometimes, no matter how well you plan a meeting out, things will go off the rails or you’ll have a lot of collaborative input that helps you reach a better point or project idea. Make sure to summarize the most important takeaways from each meeting and go through them at the end. This may seem repetitive, but repetition helps people remember and it gives everyone one last chance to jot down notes if they haven’t done that yet.
2. Ask for Questions: For the sake of clarity, you should always end your meetings by asking if anyone has any questions. This will give you the chance to address any points you may have missed, drive home a point that may not have been clear the first time around, and make sure everyone in that meeting has a solid understanding of what was discussed. This will prevent you from having to go over the same things in future meetings and it will reduce the number of questions you get after your meeting is over when you’ve already moved on to other work that needs to be done.
3. Action Items: Most meetings feel unproductive because they consist of a lot of talk but result in very little action. However, if you assign action items at the end of your meeting, you’ll clearly set up who is responsible for what and you’re more likely to see some follow-through. If you want your meeting to be effective even after it’s over, action items are essential!
4. Set Deadlines or Check-Ins: You can’t just set action items without scheduling deadlines or check-ins too. Resist the temptation to say “I’ll get back to you on this later” or “we’ll need this done soon”. Set specific deadlines and check-in times before ending your meetings so those action items will get done quickly and efficiently.
5. Send an Email: Sure, you’ve summarized the key takeaways, offered the opportunity for questions, assigned action items, and given those action items deadlines and check-ins but, in case anyone was still confused and afraid to mention it or to prevent anyone from claiming ignorance when something doesn’t get done, you need to send out a summary email. This email should be brief, sent to everyone who was in the meeting, include a thank you for their time and attention, and include a breakdown of the key takeaways as well as the person responsible for each action item and their deadlines or check-in times. This level of accountability will make sure everything gets done and will prevent you from having to hold a similar meeting in the future.
It can be frustrating to spend time preparing for a meeting and then, when it’s over, realize it wasn’t very effective and didn’t cause the action or reaction you intended. Don’t let that happen again! Follow these 5 steps to end your meetings more effectively.