wrapping up the meeting


This article is part of a series on effective meetings between Japanese and non-Japanese, that originally appeared in the Japan Times


Once you’ve invested a lot of time and energy into making your meeting an effective one, it’s important to avoid the biggest pitfall that can negate your efforts. That’s the failure to create a clear conclusion. 

The lack of a definable outcome seems to be a particular pitfall of meetings in Japan, and one that is very confusing to non-Japanese. In order to ensure that there are no misunderstandings, and that all participants know what they need to do next, a clear wrap-up is required.

First, make sure that all the meeting participants are in agreement on what exactly has been decided or accomplished. This kind of confirmation can be broached with a phrase such as:

  •  “Just to confirm what we have discussed today…”
  • “So to summarize the main conclusions of our discussion….”
  • “Let’s review what we have decided today…”
  • “Let’s try to list what we’ve agreed on today.”

To check to make sure that everyone agrees, you can ask:

  • “Does this match what everyone else understands?”
  • “Do I have this right?” 
  • “Have I left anything out?”

Once the conclusions have been confirmed, you are ready to craft the wrap-up statement. A good meeting wrap-up statement should cover the following elements: 

  • Summary of what has been accomplished or decided. As long as you have already confirmed agreement as described above, not every topic needs to be covered in detail in a summary, just the highlights.
  • Summary of what needs to be done next. This may need to be in somewhat more detail.
  • Assignment of tasks to participants, and their deadlines. This is very important, so that each person is clear on their responsibilities and due dates.
  • Date of the next meeting. It’s most efficient to decide the next meeting during the current one, when everyone is present.
  • Words of appreciation to the participants. This is a matter of politeness and consideration.
  • A positive closing note. It’s important to leave the participants with a good feeling as they leave the meeting.

Let’s take a look at two sample wrap-up statements that follow this pattern.

  1. In this meeting we were able to examine all the options in detail and have selected an excellent one. Our next task is to begin implementation. To review what we decided, Randy will be in charge of contacting the architects, Judith will be preparing a summary of our projected employee numbers, and Aaron will be conducting a study of our space needs. Please complete these tasks by our next meeting, scheduled for December 18 at 10:00 a.m. Thank you for your time today and for your excellent preparation, which enabled us to reach a good decision quickly.
  1. Today’s meeting was a good first step in examining the issues surrounding the new development project. We have a lot of work remaining in order to create a specific plan, but based on the good discussion we had today, I have a lot of confidence in this team. As you know, the next step is for each department to prepare a preliminary report of your resource needs for this project, which will be due on June 1. I appreciate everyone’s participation today, and look forward to our next meeting on June 10.

With a clear wrap-up statement, you will have collected all the key information and ensured that all the participants share the same understanding. This is the best way to make sure that the accomplishments of your meeting will be captured and put into use.


For more on how to make your cross-cultural meetings effective, get a copy of our free bilingual ebook here.


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