The best way to end a zoom call is by letting others know beforehand that you need to leave at a particular time, along with the reason. When that is not possible, you can drop a text or unmute, let them know that you need to leave and for what reason, apologize for the inconvenience, and express appreciation for the time and effort put in by everyone.
Now we will go into depth about why the awkwardness around leaving exists, what’s wrong with fake attending, and what specific actions you can do to exit the meet. Lastly, we will end with other things that you could keep in mind when you want to be polite!
Awkwardness around Leaving
One might ask, “What’s the hold-up? Just press the end button!” but it’s not so easy at times. Most of us want to be polite, and just disappearing in the middle would not appear polite on many occasions. You might not want to interrupt or might even be apprehensive that you will be interpreted as rude for leaving when the meeting isn’t over. This is a common dilemma for many people, especially after the surge in online meetings since the advent of covid.
Much of this has to do with good communication- being able to put across your needs assertively without causing conflict. If you’re interested in the topic, do check out our article on “How Effective Communication Can Reduce Stress.” We also provide public speaking coaching services.
All sorts of reasons could be there for having to end the call, and people hardly want to end at the same time. Different things could come up, or your presence might just not be required at that point in time. A lot of times meets are held for pointless reasons or include people who may not be required for the topic being discussed. Maybe you have just had enough, like this guy over here.
Why would you waste your time being present when the outcome is not productive? The time could be spent doing other things. Maybe you could fake attend.
An alternative to ending the meeting is pretending to be a part of the meeting but not listening. You could be doing something else and thinking you’re doing an excellent job being in two places at the same time. But! Multitasking has its caveats- it can put your mental health and work both at risk. In fact, if you find yourself multitasking frequently, you might be wrapped up in what’s called hustle culture, so feel free to check look that up if you’re interested.
What do I do then!?
With all these reasons said, perhaps ending the call and then giving your complete attention to the next thing would be ideal. Maybe you’re not sure how to go about that. Well, virtual meetings can be quite difficult compared to in-person meetings for many reasons. There can be numerous ways to end the call. How you approach it depends on the situation, so take your pick!
You might let others know at the beginning of the meeting that you will need to leave at a particular time due to a prior commitment. This gives others clarity by setting expectations and allows them to finish your part of the discussion earlier, if applicable. For instance, “I will need to leave at four because I have another meet, hope you all don’t mind.”
You could even let them know of a contingent situation, “I might have to leave at four if I get a call from my cousin, hope that’s okay.”
After that, there usually would be an acknowledgement. Now, when the time comes, it’s much easier just to drop a text and leave!
Provide Genuine Reason (During Meet)
Sometimes forewarnings are not possible. You’re in a running meet, and people seem to be talking, or something else is going on. If it seems feasible, wait for the next break when people have stopped speaking and then let them know that you need to leave. If that is not happening, interrupt if you must, and apologize for interrupting. It could go like, “I’m sorry to interrupt, but…[reason].”
Good etiquette would be to do these three things:
- Apologize for interrupting and/or having to take a leave.
- Provide the reason you need to leave. Or a classic, “something came up.”
- Appreciate the meet
This might look like: “Hey folks, sorry, I need to leave because something just came up. It was great being part of this, and I want to thank you all for putting your time into arranging this. Hope you all continue with the same spirit while I am gone!”
The contents, of course, will need to be modified depending on the context of the meeting and the extent that your participation influences the meeting. If it’s a meeting of more than 100 people and it’s more of a presentation than a meeting, then your presence will not influence the proceedings much. You could just drop a text in the common chat or text the host to inform them of the same, and then drop from the meet.
A question that might come to you would be, “why must I apologize for leaving?” Maybe it’s something you have no control over, like a different meeting. Maybe this is a meet you frequently exit for similar reasons, which is understood by others. In these cases, there is no need to put an apology. However, in other cases, it appears polite and makes it less likely that you’ll be perceived as rude for leaving early.
These two approaches will usually be enough, but you might also take the following ones depending on how you see fit.
Some meetings will have a sense of end or finality in what is being discussed, at which point there is nothing more needed to be said. No reason needs to be provided in these situations. It’s appropriate to simply inform them that you’re leaving and say your goodbyes.
“Alright then, I will see you folks later, goodbye!”
You might even want to wrap up the meeting to indicate it is over for everyone, depending on your role/position in the meeting.
“That’s a wrap, catch you guys later. Bye!”
Some meets might not require your presence, but you ended up attending anyway. A lot of team meets can be like that, when a few are discussing among themselves while others just wait in silence without any role. In that case, you can directly state, “I am not sure how I can contribute to this meeting. If there is anything I can do, let me know.” If they respond that there is nothing you can do, you then have a good reason to drop off the call.
Some meetings can be particularly awkward to end. It’s easier to pretend that there are some internet issues. In this case, you may drop a text at the start or during the meeting that your internet is bad, and you might drop, which will allow you to drop at any point without saying anything. You can be polite here too.
“I am facing some connectivity issues, so I might drop from the meet at any point. I’ll try to catch up later if that happens, sorry!”
So while stating the reason, you’re committing to following up on what you missed and apologizing for the inconvenience.
Alternatively, you may drop at any point without any warning and later inform the group/host that there were internet issues.
If you use this method, consider if the aforementioned methods are viable. If they are, it’s recommended to use those instead because they’re more authentic, and it’s usually appreciated when people are assertive rather than evasive.
This is similar to the point above. Your reason might be something that you cannot inform others about. In that case, you may make up something that appears appropriate. It could be the occurrence of another meeting, a prior commitment, a friend in need, a pet needing to be fed, and so on. Perhaps you have your own set of personalized excuses- that works too, as long as it’s sufficient reason to leave a meeting and does not make others question your priorities.
“I have another meeting in 5 minutes, so I need to leave. Hope that is alright. Sorry for any inconvenience!”
What if I am the Host?
Ending the meeting as a host could involve a direct wrap-up, as mentioned earlier, when the topic has been covered already. If you would like to continue to the discussion later, you might indicate your reason and ask them for acknowledgement for the same. “I need to go now because I have to finish up some work. Let’s continue this discussion another time?”
Perhaps you want to leave as the host but let others continue.
“I need to leave because of some work I must finish. Do continue the discussion as you have been doing, I’ll catch up.”
Summary of Phrases to End the Call
|Method of Choice||Phrases|
|Forewarning||“I need to leave at [time] for [reason], hope that’s okay!”|
|Genuine Reason||“Sorry, I need to leave because [reason]. It was great being part of this, and I want to thank you all for putting your time into arranging this. Hope you all continue with the same spirit while I am gone!”|
|Straightforward||“Alright then, I will see you folks later, goodbye!”|
|Pretend Glitch!||“I lost my connection just now, sorry about that. I will try to catch up later hope that’s okay.”|
|Made-up excuse||“I have another meeting in 5 minutes, so I need to leave. Hope that is alright. Sorry for any inconvenience!”|
Other things to keep in mind!
- In most cases, after letting others know that you’ll be leaving, you might want to wait for an acknowledgement and then leave.
- If you’re unmuting and letting them know instead of the chat option, your tone also matters. If your tone is not polite, then the content of what you’re saying may also fall short of what it’s intended to do.
- Be brief! There is no need to provide lengthy explanations of why you need to leave, a short quick sentence will do.
- You may even express interest in keeping in touch or knowing more about the discussion when you leave, so your absence does not indicate you weren’t interested. “I hope to hear more about x later.” It’s better if you personalize this by being specific about what genuinely interested you.
- If you did miss something because of an early exit, make sure to catch up on it later.
Additionally, it might benefit you to practise what you will do to leave the zoom meeting beforehand. Feel free to check out the video below for tips on that!
Hope that by reading this article, you have established a clear set of things you can do before you press the tempting leave button. No set of methods will guarantee that you will be perceived correctly. Some people might interpret you as rude no matter what you do. As long as you’re being authentic and polite, you know you did your part. These methods will simply serve to significantly shoot up the probability that you leave a good impression and are not interpreted as rude. Another topic you might be interested in is “6 Reasons Why Your Zoom Meetings Are So Awkward”.