A Closer Look at Distant Communication Part 3: The End

Completing our series about running the most effective project team teleconferences, we now focus on the best ways to end each session.

At the end of many teleconferences participants simply hang-up the phone without participating in a formal wrap-up. The meeting leader must be aware of the time and should begin a formal wrap-up a few minutes prior to the meeting’s scheduled conclusion.

Here are five best practices for doing so:

  • End with the beginning – i.e., restate the meeting’s purpose and begin to draw conclusions
  • Use shorter statements and closed-ended questions to keep everyone involved
  • Clearly assign tasks, responsibilities and next steps to individuals and get their agreement with respect to understanding and ownership — who will do what… where… and when?
  • Debrief the session by seeking input from participants. You might consider giving participants one minute to write-down a brief summary of “take-aways,” did-wells and do-betters, and then ask for a brief summary from each; or you might randomly pose final questions to each participant relative to their assessment of the session and understanding of next steps.
  • Acknowledge good participation and thank the group

Once the session is over there is, of course, still one more key responsibility for the meeting leader: follow-through. Here are a few thoughts that might help:

  • Distribute a meeting recap
  • Proactively contact participants who were most involved during the session to reaffirm the value of their input, to gather input for upcoming sessions and to promote ongoing participation.
  • Proactively contact participants who were assigned or volunteered to complete tasks – measure progress or offer support; send the implied message that you care and that the tasks are important by sending a progress report to all participants prior to the next meeting
  • Begin preparing the next meeting

As Swiss psychiatrist C.G. Jung so famously said, “You are what you do… not what you say you will do!