For instance, a punch line is closure for a joke, a sum is a closure for a math problem, a summary sentence closes a paragraph, and a curtain call closes a performance. Closure processes are found everywhere even in meetings.
Closure in a meeting can be used as a strategic tool to keep meeting participants engaged and on track. Closure can help participants assess if the desired outcomes and actions have been achieved or completed, if all loose ends have been addressed, and recognize the importance of relationships. It can also help free up participants so that they can move onto the next step in a process or new project. Finally closure can be used to help improve follow-up activities such as the completion of assignments or tasks assigned in a meeting.
Sample Closing Activities
Closing activities can take time in a meeting which needs to be accounted for in the agenda. Some examples of closing activities include:
- Recapping key points, assignments, and agreements for a segment of a meeting. Closure can occur on a small scale of a single presentation, or a broader meeting scale. This summarizing activity might be used to fill in the blanks (such as the ‘who, what, and when’ information).
- Recapping accomplishments; celebrating how far the group has come. This is a great way to celebrate successes, identify next steps, and tasks to be done.
- Reviewing all agreements, assignments, and tasks for the meeting as a wholeBe careful not to rehash or debate these items. Clarification questions may be allowed. This time can be used to not only remind participants of their assignments but to also get verbal confirmation that the tasks will actually get done.
- Closing Remarks, which are frequently provided by a manager or decision maker, are an excellent way to bolster the group. Topics might include summarizing progress made during the meeting, next steps, goals, time line, priorities, etc. Sometimes just saying ‘THANK YOU’ in a heartfelt way is a great way to recognize the work that a group is doing and keep them motivated and engaged.
- Group members may also want to provide some closing remarks. To get this discussion started, just ask “Does anyone have any closing thoughts for today’s meeting?”
- Reviewing loose ends. Lists of loose ends (sometimes called a ‘parking lot’ or ‘bin’ list) reference a compilation of topics that were not addressed during a meeting. Frequently there is not enough time to discuss the topics so it is important to include the list in the meeting notes. These ideas may be a good source of discussion items for a future meeting.
- Reviewing logistics. This discussion gives participants an idea of what is coming next, what they need to do, where they to travel to, etc. This might include directions on what they can leave in the room (equipment, trash, etc.), when the next meeting will begin, where to get refreshments, etc. It could also include the next steps in a particular project such as defining goals and objectives, alternatives, recommendations, etc.
- Celebrations! Scheduling a celebration at the end of a meeting can minimize the potential disruptions to a meeting but it can also allow participants some time to stay longer, enjoy a slice of that birthday cake, and build relationships.
People often remember the last bits of information that they hear at an event the best. Statements made in the last 10-15 minutes of a meeting can be used strategically to keep a group engaged, get things done outside of a meeting, and build key relationships.