run effective project meetings

How to run effective project meetings

When you manage a project you want to run effective project meetings.

It is important because…

-> wasting project resources time costs money,

-> wasted time impacts on your delivery schedule,

-> staff working on the project want information they can easily digest,

-> effective meetings gain buy-in.


Six tips for running effective meetings

#1. Consider the reason you are holding the meeting.

If you don’t have a good reason to stop everyone from working, then don’t.  Too often in the workplace meetings are organized for the sake of holding a meeting.  Is there another more efficient way that you can gain the information that you need?  Do you need to gather a large group of people together, or can you obtain the information by talking to only one or two people and then sharing the information with the rest of the team in a different way, for example by an email or forum post?

What is it that you want to gain from holding the meeting?

#2. Determine if your meeting is crucial for a project team to function well.

Here are the four different types of meetings that you should hold for your team to work as a team:

  • Whole project team meetings   Whole team meetings are valuable and build team cohesion. They should be scheduled on a regular basis so that everyone understands how their function and outputs impacts on the overall outcome of the project. Here are the top reasons why you would hold an all project team meeting.
  • Issues management meetings  These are key to keep issues managed on your project. Hold weekly meetings with the key stream leads responsible for issues management.
  • Sub meetings per stream  Hold smaller and more productive meetings with streams as they roll on and off your project. Holding smaller meetings is more efficient than having everyone involved in all sessions.
  • Conflict resolution meetings  It’s valuable to deal with conflict head on. Hold a meeting with the parties at war and resolve it.  The sooner, the better.

#3. Always have an agenda.

It is important to draw up an agenda and ensure that you stick to it.  Capture action steps and who is responsible for the work.  Also be sure to include a time frame for delivery. This way you hold people accountable and ensure that everyone is working towards your project delivery timeframes at all times.  If you don’t do this, you’ve wasted everyone’s time.  Take down issues that arise in all meetings. Add these items to your issues register and circulate it to the whole team. Also capture any risks or updates to risks at this time too. Always be thinking about your risks and issues.

#4. Follow up after the meeting with minutes.

Most people consider meeting minute writing a nuisance.  I use it as a way to solidify in my mind what happened in the meeting. By writing down the key discussion points, action points and time frames I become clear on what was discussed. It allows me to track the action items (added to a running list), the issues (added to the issues register) and to update risks on the risk register.

The process of documenting the minutes also helps me recognise if something was missed. I often do this in a simple email with headings. Action items are numbered so that they can be tracked and followed up.

The value in sending out minutes is that attendees can confirm their understanding, or question what has been captured. They may often come back with points of clarification. What I also noticed is action items caught this way are also often followed up and resolved quicker.

Minutes provide valuable insight for everyone in the team. They also assist with open communication amongst the team which is key.

#5. Ensure someone facilitates the meeting.

Someone needs to facilitate the meeting. That may not always be you. If for example there is a stream meeting to deal with a project issue and you are there, a stream lead could facilitate the meeting. It is important that one of the Project Team takes the lead and manage the discussion. That doesn’t mean shutting down discussion if it’s needed.  It does mean managing participant involvement so that everyone is heard.

Sometimes it may not be possible to get all attendees in the room at the same time. Remote meetings are just as effective if you plan them well.

#6. Learn how to run effective remote meetings

Here is a great infographic that you can print and have close by if you are running remote meetings.  It’s like a quick checklist of the things to consider when you are running meetings with staff remotely.  For instance, sending out material before hand. Sending the material out prior to the meeting helps remote staff feel involved.