Johnnie Moore

Not ending on a high

Why it's worth resisting the urge to end meetings on a high
Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

We're not staging a Broadway show...

Transcript of this video:

I was hosting a morning event last week as part of a larger conference. It was a strategy planning session and the first part was going really well.

We had some quite constructive breakouts and at the beginning of the second half, after the break I thought it would be good to have a quick go-round.

So I assembled roughly 20 people in a circle to get their feedback on part one. I guess I was expecting it to last maybe 10, 15 minutes but it ended up taking quite a lot longer because it turned out to be quite a heartfelt slow-paced sharing in which I got an increasing sense that people were making very powerful connections and I knew it would be wrong to try and rush this.

So although I periodically looked at my watch and realised our second half was getting shorter I had a feeling that this go-round might be the most important thing that was happening.

So I had to adjust my plans and we ended up only having 25 minutes at the end for the second round of relatively prosaic breakouts.

But I thought, well, we’ll have them. We’ve got time to do them. They won’t be as long as we wanted. So I let them start and I watched them and they seemed also to be very practical and constructive and I didn’t really want to cut them any shorter.

So I decided in the end to run right up until the break, get everybody together in a circle and just briefly say, well we don’t have time for a very grand ending but actually the work we are doing is part of an ongoing process, so there’s no need for this to end in a very spectacular way.

So I just want to thank you all for your hard work and wish you luck with continuing that work and that seemed just fine. And I think it reminds me of a point I often make which is that there’s so much pressure on people who facilitate or host meetings to end on a high.

But you know, we’re not putting on a Broadway show or a Bollywood musical here. And I think the pressure to end on a high can be very counterproductive. It could create a lot of stress for people.

Also, I think it’s quite false to think the meeting should end highly adrenalised and excited. Trying to force that often leads to a sense of something being a bit inauthentic and you end up with what I call a commitment ceremony which is people ritually say they commit to certain actions but you get a feeling they’re not really going to do them.

I’m recording this by the river in Cambridge today where there is a whole series of people have gathered to have languid picnics by the river, and you can tell the groups of friends are coming and going. It’s all very low key and deeply connecting and satisfying. And I think that can be one of the most important things to accomplish in your meeting. And you won’t get it if you try and force everything to end on a high.

Photo by Nghia Le on Unsplash

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