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!