Near the end of any interaction, many of us are mentally already out of the room. We are thinking about what we need to do next and when we can get on with that. The best way to get focused when closing out any meeting is to ask something like this: “What have we decided?”
Clarity: In the absence of slowing down and taking stock of the outcome(s) of the meeting, it is inevitable that those participating will leave the conversation with different ideas about what was agreed to. That will create extra work and unnecessary frustration, not preferred outcomes.
Consensus: The brief close-out conversation allows all involved to agree about who does what when. By taking the time to do this, the decision(s) are “owned” by the group.
Closure: Everyone being present and paying attention is more likely to happen if everyone knows what constitutes a successful end to the meeting. When every meeting agenda includes a wrap-up segment where what has been agreed is defined, the attendees will not leave the meeting early, either literally or figuratively. After all, everyone wants closure.
Get clear. Remember, don’t answer the question “What have we decided?” yourself. Listen, consider, then respond. Go for the close.