Putting a bow on it: How (and how not) to conclude a forum meeting

Forum meetings can come to a close in many different ways, some that build connection and community, and other that leave members dissatisfied or disappointed.

The classic ending:

  • Each member shares a new perspective, insight, planned action, or new appreciation as a result of the meeting. (This can even be a standard practice every time.)

Other options and possibilities

  • +/Delta: what went well in the meeting, what could we have done better?
  • Appreciation for each other. In its shortest form, each person turns to the one on their left and shares something they appreciate about their contribution to the forum.  The process continues around the circle.
  • Letter to myself
    • Each person writes a letter to him or herself that summarizes what they specifically commit to do differently as a result of the meeting.
    • Each letter goes into sealed envelope; the moderator collects the letters and mails them out in two weeks.

How not to conclude a meeting:

  • With housekeeping (meeting scheduling or other logistic matters). Take care of these items earlier in the agenda so the meeting can end on a high note with substantive value.
  • With one or two people rushing out because the clock has been ignored, and some members can’t stay beyond the agreed ending time.
  • With issues or problems that have been raised and not cleared. Clearing the air is usually done at the beginning of a meeting, but it can be done at any time.  Don’t allow issues to fester; address them as soon as you can.

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