Facilitation 105: Close out your meeting

Part 5 in the Facilitation series.

Previous post: Facilitation 104

  1. Review
    Review any decisions that were made (make sure to document them in minutes), review any items that were tabled for discussion later if there’s time, and review any action items and make sure they’re assigned and have due dates. Review when the next meeting will be.
  1. Evaluate
    Make sure to build in time and space to improve your meeting process — do a debrief before everyone leaves. The least formal and easiest debrief to implement is a go-round at the end of the meeting, during which each person has a chance to speak up if there is anything important that hasn’t been addressed yet, or to give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down about how the meeting went. This is a good tool for ongoing, regular meetings in which the attendees know each other and the process well. For less frequent or one-off meetings, especially if they involve people who haven’t worked together much or a new topic, it can be worthwhile to do a more guided debrief. In that case, the facilitator can ask a few questions like:
  • “What worked well in this meeting?”
  • “What can we do better in our next meeting?”
  • “Did this meeting give you the information you need to do your job?”
  • “Did you feel prepared coming into this meeting? Did we give you enough information ahead of time?”
  • “Is there anything else you wish we had been able to cover today?”

Make sure the debrief doesn’t devolve into complaints. If somebody says, for example, “You talk too much and makes our meetings take forever and I never get to talk about what I want,” ask that person to re-state their comment in a constructive way (“Because time is so tight, let’s be mindful of how much time we’re taking when stating opinions.”).

A good tool for evaluating the effectivity of a meeting is the ROTI assessment (Return on Time Invested):


Here’s a link about how to use the ROTI tool (also the source of the image).

If you haven’t set an agenda and clear expectations, it will generally be pretty clearly revealed by a negative evaluation.

  1. Clean up
    Don’t forget that others may use meeting spaces — and not just your teammates. Vendors, auditors, and interview candidates also use shared spaces — make sure not to leave any sensitive information behind! But more generally, be a good neighbor. Use the camping rule: leave the site better than how you found it. Clean off the whiteboards, throw away any trash or post-its, turn off the projector and extra monitors, and take your cups with you. The person who called the meeting needs to make sure these things happen.
  1. Adjourn (on time!)
    Don’t allow the meeting to just passively dissolve! Formally (or informally) close out on a positive note. Offer a “class dismissed” and thank attendees for their time and effort. Let’s not take each others’ hard work for granted. Don’t forget to be kind to each other! Vacate the conference room before the next meeting is due to start. If there are other conversations happening, take them elsewhere. Lingering past the meeting time makes other peoples’ meetings start and end late.



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