Who will do what when?

Meetings are only as productive as the preparation that goes into the meeting and the participants who attend.

Who will do what when?

As I’ve written before, meetings are the bane of business—a necessary evil.

The evil in a meeting is that nothing is accomplished until the meeting is over.  No one can start to work on the items identified in the meeting until it concludes.

The success of a meeting is set by how we conclude the meeting.

Mostly, when people start to feel the meeting is just about over, they begin to sneak toward the door, start to think about other projects, or strike up a conversation with the person they are sitting next to.

So, to improve how to conclude a meeting, here are several ways to close meetings that can take the blah out of them, and leave everyone feeling as if the time spent wasn’t so bad after all.

  1. Don’t drag on

Productivity cannot begin while sitting in a meeting. A few minutes before the meeting’s scheduled end, succinctly summarize the outcome of the meeting.

For the people who are anxious to share their views, encourage them to send you an email with their ideas so you can place them on the agenda for the next meeting. Most important, end the meeting on time– don’t let it go on longer than necessary.

  1. Keep it positive

At the end of each meeting, highlight the positive contributions of those in attendance. This is your “make everyone feel good” moment–make sure everyone leaves feeling good about something he or she accomplished or contributed to the meeting. Let everyone know how incredibly successful you felt the meeting was, even if it means highlighting the one good thing that came out of it.

  1. Be nice

We know most meetings end with head nods, handshakes, and other bland niceties. Why not end the meeting with a sincere “thank you for coming,” a sincere handshake with eye contact, or lighthearted conversation about anything but work or the company’s future?

  1. Neutralize a touchy meeting

Sometimes, for change to occur, things have to be said in meetings that may rub some the wrong way. Or conversations get heated when the blame game begins.

If you have a meeting that goes south and feelings get hurt, end the meeting by acknowledging what is and isn’t working and, most importantly, acknowledge the hurt feelings of members of your team before going on to the next steps.

  1. Redirect a pointless meeting

We have all been in that meeting where, halfway through, you find it extremely hard to find any semblance of the original intent.

Because you don’t want this gathering to be a total waste of time, end the current conversation as quickly (but sensitively) as possible.  Ask your team members to think about those pressing things they would like to discuss further and then send them to you for the next meeting’s agenda.

  1. Open up the meeting

So often, meetings are dominated by a few. Save a few minutes at the end of each meeting to give team members who have not spoken an opportunity to add a comment. This will make them feel heard and could open some eyes to new possibilities as the meeting comes to an end.

  1. End it with action!

At the conclusion, make sure everyone can say who will do what when.

The Bible

Proverbs 21:5 says.

The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance,
but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.

As business leaders, we go to great lengths to have meetings.  We schedule them, invite key participants, and plan for them.  What we frequently do, however, is waste them.

Too much effort is expended on meetings not to make them productive and worthwhile.

            The best meetings are well planned and orchestrated.  They are timely, efficient and practical.  Make sure the conclusion of the meeting is designed to reinforce what happened in the meeting.  Even though the attendees are wanting to “hastily’ depart, don’t let them leave without knowing who will do what when.