How To Close Meetings Powerfully

Have you ever felt unsatisfied or confused at the end of a meeting, event, session, or activity? How you close a gathering matters as much as how you open them.

Your meeting attendees deserve purpose and direction and you should give it to them as your session draws to a close at your next offsite or retreat. Don’t let the end be a sputter and fade or a big question mark when you could leave attendees satisfied and energized.

Endings mark a transition point into what comes next and as the organizer you can help ensure that transition is smooth and relevant.

You often focus on “when” as you set-up agendas, and “when” is important, but “how” is where the magic is. To quote Priya Parker, “Too many of our gatherings don’t end. They simply stop.”

From a customer experience perspective I loathe ending a team building event if I don’t have clear information to share with the group on what comes next. I create a transition using a closing framework, a time expectation, and the information I have for what comes next.

As a facilitator, I have several closing frameworks that I utilize. Here are 2 that you can easily use for your next team event, sales meeting, or planning session. Feel free to adapt to your specific use case.

Meeting Closing Idea #1 – Crowd Sourced

This ending requires a beginning.

Start by asking the group, “what will make this session a win for you?”

I write all their words on the board. Often it’s words like laughter, new ideas, or connection.

I follow-up with, “So If we get to the end of the session and you experienced laughter, will this event be a success?” I’ll call out a few of the words on the list for fun an clarity.

As you wrap up at the end, bring the board back out for them to see. Then go through each word and ask them about it. “Did we laugh today?” or “Did you find a new idea today”. You get the idea.

The beauty of this closing is that the group sets the parameters for the success. You front load that success and the closing puts it top of mind. This also a great way to see what the group values & shape the experience from the start.

There is always a chance that some of their words didn’t have a successful result. That is GREAT! The discussions that you could lead from that would be amazing… but fuel for a different post. =)

Meeting Closing Idea #2 – Fill in the Blank

This is exactly what it sounds like. All the group has to do is fill in the blank on a prompt or prompts you give them. In team building reflection is key to surfacing the value of an experience.
I’ll often write 3 prompts and have each person complete those in sequence. OR I’ll write 3 prompts and let them choose the one they’d like to answer.

Version A – “complete these prompts when it’s your turn”
– Today I learned ______
– I want to recognize _____ for ________
– I can’t wait to _____________

Version B – “Based on the work we did today choose one statement find a partner, and share your answer. “
– Today I learned _________
– I will…..
– I believe….

It’s possible to still stop instead of transition at the end of a session even if you use one of the frameworks above.

Closing Tip
Your closing probably still needs a “transitional moment”. This is where you help the group understand what leaving looks like.

A simple phrase like, “In a moment, when I say “thank you everyone”, high-five at least 3 people on your way out the room. Don’t forget your next _____ starts at ____. Thank You Everyone!”

Modeling what leaving looks like is a powerful technique to alleviate awkwardness in endings.

Need a team building event to help build connection, boost culture, and put smiles on your faces? We’d love to partner with you.