They say that every exit is an entrance somewhere else. When it comes to your meetings or presentations, how do you end? Do you create it? Or does the clock strike and it simply happens to you? As a coach this is a really important part of my work with my clients. Creating the right ending for me means creating the space for my client to decide what to do between sessions, or reflect on progress within the session for example.
This got me thinking about how it affects the success of a meeting or presentation. And how, if you don't attend to the ending, you could be missing an opportunity to create the next beginning.
If your focus is primarily on the part of a meeting between the beginning and the end, here's what you're missing out on:
- A discussion of what's been shared or discussed: "What do you think?"
- A chance to learn: "What did you like?" "What are your concerns?"
- A chance to respond: "Tell me more." "May I respond?"
- A chance to clarify: "What happens next?"
Why don't we end well? There could be two reasons:
- Fear: asking these kind of questions puts us in a vulnerable position. It's easier to leave, 'high fives in the cab' and wait for the outcome rather than ask for it head on.
- Authority: we defer to the client. We make ourselves small and grateful. 'It's not up to us'.
If this sounds like you and you want to change how you end meetings and presentations here's what to do:
- Plan your ending: Send an agenda for your next meeting that includes an ending segment. Allow time for it. No less than 10 minutes for a one-hour meeting.
- Decide how you'll use the time: Formulate two or three questions: What are your views on what you've heard? What did you like? What would you prefer was different?
- Make it collaborative: How shall we move ahead from here? Design some actions together. Include a discussion of what is going to happen next, who's involved, by when and what might get in the way.
Your ending will be more business-like. You'll have a chance to see any plates that are not spinning or about to drop to the ground. And you'll be able to walk to the door, with greater certainty that it's an entrance to somewhere else and not the fire escape.
If you would like to learn how to start presentations, read John Scarrott's Presentation Skills: Start Right.
John Scarrott is a trainer and coach working with marketing professionals on their skills of influential communication. He is the IDM's retained Presentation Skills trainer and coach. Find out more about him at johnscarrott.com or follow him @JohnDScarrott
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