There's a Right Way to End Meetings at Work — and a Wrong Way

Without a proper conclusion, meetings can leave employees confused and unproductive.

Bloomberg News

December 12, 2023

2 Min Read
business meeting

(Bloomberg) — Call it the "closing ceremonies."

Turns out, there's a right way and a wrong way for to end a work meeting — and business leaders and managers who make the wrong choice can contribute to a decrease in employee productivity and mental health.

"One of the most common mistakes leaders make in meetings is neglecting a proper ending," said Steven Rogelberg, a professor of organizational science, psychology and management at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. "If you don't properly close a meeting, people wonder what the heck was decided and can get very frustrated."

More often than not, meeting attendees keep talking until they are kicked out of their conference rooms or the top of the hour hits and people have to bounce over to their next engagement.

Instead, people should be wrapping up meetings three to five minutes before the stated ending time to start what Rogelberg terms an adequate "closing process."

During this time, whoever is leading the meeting should succinctly recap what was said, what the next action items are and who will be directly responsible for completing the upcoming tasks. They should set specific deadlines and outline what follow-up is expected.

If the end of the allotted meeting time has arrived and there are still undiscussed agenda items, the person who called the meeting should state what those outstanding items are and when those things will be discussed next.

Related:4 Best Practices for Hybrid Meetings

And finally, Rogelberg said leaders need to get better about ending meetings on time.

Meetings that go over run the risk of creating resentment among attendees, who often have to rush to their next meeting and may worry about being late.

That feeling sticks with you and negatively affects productivity afterward. "We don't want people ruminating over a bad meeting and then infecting other people with that negativity," he said.

So next time that meeting-goer asks to bring up one last thing, politely smile, decline, and suggest they follow up with an email.

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