As a project manager, I have tons of meetings. I can remember several meetings in my previous organization with clients that followed a loose agenda and then ended up way off base. I was scrambling near the end due to a curve ball assignment or disagreement I was not expecting. Then the meeting was over, and I was shellshocked at what had just happened. According to the clock, the meeting was over, and the client needed to disconnect. There was no time to summarize, wrap up, or gain clarity on the new expectation of the project or change in scope. I did not even have time to set up our next meeting.
You will recall Phil from our introduction to the Online Meeting Monster™. Phil is in such a hurry to get to his next meeting, he rushes the end of meetings with a short “thanks for coming everyone” or “well, if there is nothing else.” Sometimes he does this due to his time constraints right when the discussion is becoming productive or needs more clarity.
Have you had an online meeting like this? This month? This week? Today?
Throughout this Tame the Online Meeting Monster™ series, we’ve provided tools and suggestions for navigating a group’s way through the three major phases of the Core Meeting Process™ -- Prepare, Lead, and Follow-through -- and for taming the Monster.
The last phase in the Core Meeting Process™ is Follow-through. When a meeting comes to an end, it’s common to wrap up with “is there anything else?” but you’re missing a few key elements to properly end a meeting. In this blog we'll highlight three practices to use at the end of your meeting to achieve alignment from all attendees and make it an even better experience for everyone:1. Acknowledgement
2. Action Item Review and Clarity
To close a meeting well, you will have to be mindful of time. In fact, ending a meeting slightly early is a great gift to your participants. If you don’t end your meetings well, the Online Meeting Monster will rear its ugly head!
Ending a virtual meeting on a positive note helps to maintain the relationship with participants and build rapport. The first practice I recommend is taking a moment or two for Acknowledgement. Be sure to acknowledge people and call out why you are acknowledging them. This could sound like “I want to take a moment and acknowledge Jenni for bringing awareness to the risks of this project.” Or “Thank you, Charlie, for explaining the technical side of this software simulation.”
Celebrating accomplishments is something that many will reserve for public acknowledgement or project completion, but Facilitative Leaders know how important it is to use this practice more often. Be sure to take the time to follow-through in your relationships by saying “thank you” more often, especially in virtual meetings.
Action Item Review and Clarity
The second practice is Action Item Review and Clarity. During the meeting, someone should document agreements and next steps. At the end of the meeting, take some time to restate those next steps and ensure they are captured accurately.
In your next virtual meeting, be sure to start with the last meeting’s action items to close the loop on what was accomplished or needs more attention.
The final practice is a model called Plus/Delta. This is the evaluation phase of the meeting. As part of continuous improvement, this practice allows you to focus on the meeting process, what worked well, and what could be better. You can use a table or simply have your participants list items in their chat window.
After the action items are all cleared up, ask “What worked well about this meeting?” and wait. Try not to fill the empty silence. People will speak up or engage in chat. Acknowledge and validate each person’s responses. Folks need to feel safe and heard during this practice because the next question could be tougher depending on your group.
This next and final question for the meeting should always be “What could we have done better?” Again, wait for the answers. You may get funny answers, like “more appearances of our pets!” You will also receive honest, sincere feedback like “I think our meeting needs to be 30 minutes longer in order to provide time for discussion.” Someone may say that this time no longer works for them. That is great feedback and something on which you can act. Either way, meetings need to be evaluated and continuously improved. You can only do that by asking.
I encourage you to start applying these simple practices as you close your upcoming meetings. If you are looking for a more comprehensive meeting agenda, download our Meeting Agenda Template that puts these practices on paper (literally).
If your organization is experiencing challenges with meetings, click here to learn more about Interaction Associates’ robust suite of solutions and how we’ve been the trusted partner to many of the world’s top organizations when it comes to taming the online meeting monster.
Did You Miss Any of the Online Meeting Monster series?
Part 1: Meet the Online Meeting Monster™
This blog will introduce the monster and highlight key areas to look out for in your online meeting. We’ll be tackling each topic in the coming weeks.
Part 2: Why Are We Meeting?
Start your meeting off on the right foot by preparing yourself and attendees. In this blog we will provide you the tools to do this seamlessly.
Part 3: Is Anybody Listening?
Online meetings tend to have a lot of dead air and blank stares. In this blog we discuss how to overcome this common issue by keeping attendees engaged.
Part 4: Did You Write that Down?
A successful meeting should end with clear next steps and action items. In this blog we give tips on how to properly take meeting notes.
About Eve Keller
Currently, Eve serves IA as a Director of Client Solutions. Prior to IA, Eve worked on multiple federal and state contracts supporting the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS), the Federally Facilitated Marketplace and the Department of Education as a project manager and master instructional designer. As a former educator, she has a passion for teaching and learning in a variety of ways that includes mounds of positive encouragement and motivation.