Meetings are really just a series of conversations — an opportunity to clarify issues, set direction, sharpen focus, and move objectives forward.

Point for better meeting:

  • Set up each conversation so everyone knows the intended outcomes and how to participate.
  • Manage the conversation rigorously so the discussion stays on track and everyone is engaged.
  • Close the conversation to ensure alignment, clarity on next steps, and awareness for the value created.

To deliberately close a conversation, consider these 5 essential tasks:

Check for completion: If you move to the next topic too quickly, people will either cycle back to the current topic later or they will leave the meeting unclear or misaligned. You should ask: “Is there anything else someone needs to say or ask before we change topics or adjourn the meeting?” If the university president had asked this question and waited patiently, lingering concerns or questions might have arisen and been dealt with right off the bat.

Check for alignment: If someone can’t live with the decisions being made in the meeting, or the potential outcome of those decisions, you need to ask that person what it would take to get him or her on board. People prefer to be united with the group, and if they aren’t, there’s a reason behind it that needs to be surfaced. Asking the question, “Is everyone OK with where we ended up?” will surface questions or concerns so they can be resolved as soon as possible.

Agree on next steps: Getting firm, clear commitments is the primary way to ensure progress between meetings. In order for a conversation to lead to action, specific commitments must be made. Progress depends on clearly stating what you will do by when and asking others to do the same. To maintain the momentum of any project, nail down specific commitments and deadlines, and then follow up often. The question here is: “What exactly will we do by our next meeting to ensure progress?” 

Reflect on the value of what you accomplished: This is one of the most powerful acknowledgment and appreciation tools. People rarely state the value created by a conversation, and therefore lose a wonderful opportunity to validate both the conversation and the individuals in it. Here’s an example:

Check for acknowledgements: Did anyone contribute to the conversation in a way that needs to be highlighted? While you don’t want to use acknowledgement and appreciation so frequently that it becomes a commodity with no value, at times someone’s questions or remarks do help provide the tipping point that turns an ordinary conversation into and extraordinary one – and that’s worth acknowledging.

points are taken from