Daniel Pink’s book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing stresses the importance of the meeting wrap up. He calls it “ending on a high note.” Others refer to the recency effect. Below find the four most critical activities needed to facilitate a professional, efficient, and effective meeting wrap up:
#1-Review, #2-Next Steps, #3-Communications, and #4-Assessment.
None of the following should ever be skipped entirely, so expand and contract based on your situation and constraints.
Meeting Wrap Up #1 – Review
Do not relive the meeting; simply review the outputs, decisions, assignments, etc. Focus on the results and deliverable of each agenda step and not on how you got there. Participants do not need a transcription. Remind them to record the takeaways and outputs (deliverable). Offer participants the opportunity to ask for additional information or clarification before the meeting ends. Be prepared to use the Definition Tool to address uncertainties about what something means.
Meeting Wrap Up #2 – Next Steps
There are various methods and treatments of open items and formal assignments, such as roles and responsibilities. For additional and detailed support see How to Transform Your Responsibility Matrix Into a GANTT Chart for help building a RASI matrix. See How to Manage the Parking Lot and Wrap up Meetings for helping to manage open issues in your Parking Lot or Refrigerator.
Steve Jobs, ex-CEO of Apple Inc., called this assignment activity essential, the heart of a meeting. He called the person assigned a specific task the DRI (“Directly Responsible Individual”). For each project, and every task in that project, he wanted someone accountable. They would be congratulated or blamed depending on how they did.
Once the next steps and assignments are clear, your meeting is nearly over.
Meeting Wrap Up #3 – Communications
Here you lead the participants to agree on what they will tell other stakeholders was accomplished during the meetings. It is a good idea if the participants sound as if they were in the same meeting together. Take a few moments to homogenize the rhetoric and help them agree on what they will tell people who ask. Minimally consider two audiences, and record the bullets or sound bites for each. Separately consider, for example, their superiors and other stakeholders (eg, peers or customers). See How to Communicate Meeting and Workshop Results for detailed support.
Meeting Wrap Up #4 – Assessment
Get feedback on how well you did and what you can do to be better. Set up or mark a white board by the exit door and create two columns, typically PLUS and DELTA (ie, the Greek symbol ∆ or “change”) but also known as Benefits & Concerns and other cultural specific titles. Have each participant write down on a small Post-it® note, at least one thing they liked about the meeting (+) and one thing they would change (∆). Ask them to mount each note in its respective column as they exit. Again see How to Manage the Parking Lot and Wrap up Meetings for detailed support.
Effective leaders will not let their meetings wrap up until participants have been offered a final opportunity to comment or question, action steps have been discussed, messaging has been agreed to, and feedback for continuous improvement has been solicited. Continue to fortify your skill set with additional tools and improvement suggestions available in this section on Facilitation Best Practices.
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