Editor’s note: This article is a re-run as part of our countdown of top stories from the past year.
For more than a year, most of our meetings with co-workers, clients and executives have been through a screen. Many of us have logged more hours in Zoom than we’ve logged in Microsoft Word or Salesforce or HubSpot.
One of the many communication challenges I’ve experienced in all these online meetings is that it can be more difficult to end a Zoom meeting than to end an in-person meeting. People want to chat more and check the time less when meeting online. And that’s how we end up spending even more time in meetings in 2020 and 2021 than we did in 2019.
If you find yourself sitting through too many of these prolonged Zoom calls, here are a few ways to set expectations and manage the end of your meetings with finesse.
When you have to go . . .
- “I appreciate the points you’re making, but we are at our time limit. Hold those thoughts for our next meeting.”
- “We’ll pick up where we left off at the next meeting.”
- “We have to keep to our schedule, so we’re going to end the call here. Please save your questions for the next meeting or send me an email.”
- “It looks like we have five minutes left. Are there any last-minute questions?”
- “I’m going to apologize in advance, but we need to stop the meeting here. We are out of time.”
- “I want to keep this meeting on schedule, so let’s all keep an eye on the time. I don’t want to mute any of you, but I will if it looks like we’re running out of time.”
- “Carol, we are out of time. Let’s stop here.”
- “I don’t want to put you on mute Carol, but we are out of time.”
When my kids were younger, I learned to avoid unnecessary fits when it was time to leave the playground by giving my kids a “five-minute warning.” You can do the same in your online meetings.
- “We are going to keep this meeting to an hour, so let’s all keep an eye on the time.”
- “Time check everyone . . . we have about 30 minutes left.”
- “We’re in the final 10 minutes of the meeting. Is there anyone who hasn’t had a chance to talk?”
Assign someone to be the timekeeper
- “Amy . . . please check the time during the meeting and give us a 10-minute warning.”
- “Amy, I’m counting on you to keep us honest with the time. Tell us when we have 10 minutes left.”
Blame the technology
- “Zoom is going to end our meeting in less than a minute. So, let’s sign off now.”
- “We’ve reached our time limit and the software is about to end our meeting.”
- “I don’t want Zoom to end our meeting before we have a chance to say goodbye, so let’s stop here.”
You could also come up with an end-of-meeting tag line or sign off, such as:
- “Live long and prosper.”
- “Confusion to our competitors.”
- “Exit, stage right.”
- “Exit, pursued by a bear.”
- “So long and thanks for all the fish.”
- “Now where was I?”
- “After all, tomorrow is another day.”
- “Have fun storming the castle.”
Readers: How do you end an endless meeting? Tell us in the comments section.