Memorable public speakers, popular authors and great chefs all know the power of a strong ending. We all love a good conclusion. And we feel cheated or frustrated by a poor one. 

Think of your favourite movie or TV series. It’s guaranteed the finale had a major impact on your lasting perceptions of the show. Game of Thrones anyone?

Psychologists tell us that endings are critical to how we feel about any given event. Endings also impact on how we behave after an event has concluded. We don’t recall everything we experience, there’s simply too much data. So our memories are dominated by how we feel during peak moments – the highs and lows. Endings almost always fall into one or other of those two categories. Disappointing endings foster negative feelings and actions. Satisfying endings promote positive feelings and actions. 

And uncertain endings trigger more uncertainty.

Good endings then, encourage good business and a positive workplace culture.

In any conversation, meeting or presentation, there are three things that need a good ending. What happened before, what’s happening now, and what will happen next. When all three perspectives (past, present and future) are summed up in a positive way, we tend to feel more relaxed, poised and certain. We have clear scope and boundaries for our work. 

So here’s a winning formula to wind up a meeting with confidence and clarity. It also works well with one-on-ones, presentations, emails, phone calls, coaching and client meetings.

Always wind up with a W.O.W.

No. Not World of Warcraft. 

Work in Progress / Opportunities / Wins

End your meetings with this snappy five-minute summary. It’s the perfect way to sharpen focus, pick priorities, decide who’s driving and synchronise watches. We walk away with clarity and certainty. It’s the high-note ending we all want. 

Work in Progress

List what we’re working on. Solutions we’re actively seeking between now and our next meeting. What will we commit to in this action cycle? And who will make that happen? Ask the three Ws – Who will do What by When?

Our works in progress are… and whose desk does that land on?

What are we saying a hearty ‘yes’ to between now and our next meeting?

Opportunities

Quickly list what opportunities and options we have in mind for future action. What are our open loops? Run through the list and discard or defer non-priorities. 

Richard Branson puts it well, ‘Business opportunities are like busses, there’s always another one coming’. Which makes Steve’s job’s advice all the more relevant. Focus is knowing what to say ‘no’ to.

Park open loops in your calendar or an agenda for next meeting. Now we’re free to focus our energy on Work in Progress. Our next-stage projects are safely warehoused pending future action. No distractions, and we relax. 

What can we say a solid ‘no’ to? What is a ‘yes-but-not-now’? 

Wins

When disruption is the norm and busy is the new black, it’s easy to forget how far we’ve travelled and how much we’ve accomplished. Especially in uncertain times. Nimble, agile, responsive, innovative are stand-out traits of high performing teams. But they often come served with a side of change-fatigue and burn-out. Unless we are willing to invest often and openly in our team’s emotional bank account.

The best way to do this is to celebrate our wins. 

Ken Blanchard makes a great point, “People who feel good about themselves produce good results, and people who produce good results feel good about themselves.” 

Create a virtuous cycle. Catch people doing something right. The easiest, fastest way to boost team morale is to notice, encourage, and celebrate the good things that are happening. 

What is working well? What is worthy of recognition? Who’s had a win this week? Who are we celebrating with? 

Last impressions last. Good endings inspire our next good beginnings.

And a good meeting ends well when it winds up with a W.O.W. 


Download a W.O.W. tip sheet for your next meeting.

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