Recall, if you will, the very best meeting you’ve ever attended. The kind of meeting that you left feeling both “YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS” (with an emphatic fist pump) and saying “I can’t wait to do this again soon!”
Go ahead and picture it – I’ll wait.
Now, what percentage of your meetings would you say give you that feeling? I’d bet less than half. How can you increase that?
Here’s how to close a meeting to create buy-in, inspire action, and align participants:
1. Restate the Goals. The best meetings I’ve ever attended gave me a feeling of contribution and accomplishment. Most often these feelings occurred when the leader started the meeting by clearly stating what we’d have when we would walk out of the room—in other words, the goal(s) of our time together.
They could range from a specific decision, a list of ideas, an action plan, or even a documented process. And then that same meeting leader would end the meeting by saying, “When we walked into this room, we agreed to this goal: _________________ , and here’s what we’ve accomplished: ________________.”
That’s the secret sauce: Giving the participants credit for reaching the goals together.
2. Confirm Next Steps & Owners. Have you ever left a meeting unsure of what was happening next and who was going to do it? Me too. That’s why I always feel appreciation for meeting leaders who recap the action steps and assignments.
It can be done with tact and respect, by saying something as simple as, “To ensure we’re on the same page, here’s what I heard: Tina is going to research sales leads for us and email them out to this team by Friday. Michael is going to draft a targeted marketing plan and provide it to us prior to our next meeting one week from today. And I will schedule our next meeting to review the plan on Tuesday at 2:00 PM. What have I missed?”
Then give them time to surface any other actions that must be taken to make the plan a success.
3. Thank the Participants. I’m intentional about the word “participants” instead of “attendees.” That’s because a well-led (and, therefore, well-closed) meeting is one in which everyone contributes. It’s active, not passive.
That means asking for input through open-ended questions, listening as much as talking, and inviting the participants to challenge your ideas. When all that happens, you get to benefit from the wisdom in the room, and that creates buy-in and fosters a culture of feedback.
As you close, thank them for their contributions.
4. Bonus – Use Humor and End Early. Who doesn’t like to laugh? And who doesn’t like to get some time back in an already-jam-packed schedule? You’ll build rapport and draw your participants back if they know you’ll honor their time and include a bit of fun in your meetings.
The first couple of times you try these new techniques, they may feel a bit strange. But stick with it—you’ll be a meeting guru in no time.
And when you knock it out of the park, give us a shout—we’d welcome the opportunity to celebrate with you!
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