This week we’ve put together a list of tips for conducting effective project meetings. These tips will help you avoid the pitfalls of a long and unproductive meeting.
Before the Meeting Takes Place:
- Meeting Objective – All project meetings should have a clearly stated objective of what is to be achieved. This objective should be included in the agenda and re-stated at the beginning of the meeting.
- Time Considerations – The meeting should be planned for enough time to achieve the objective but not so long that participants lose interest. An hour or less is generally ideal. For anything more than an hour, the project manager should strongly consider breaking the discussion up into two or more meetings.
- Establish Roles – At a project meeting the project manager should be facilitating/chairing the discussion, not trying to do everything else. When possible, the project manager should speak with and assign roles—like scribe or timekeeper—to meeting participants so they understand what’s expected during the meeting.
- Agenda – A clear and concise meeting agenda should be distributed to all participants well in advance of the meeting. The agenda should include the meeting objective, topics of discussion, and time allocated to each topic.
During the Meeting:
- As the meeting opens the objective should be re-stated and understood by all meeting participants.
- The project manager should ensure that the discussion stays on topic in accordance with the agenda.
- Encourage participation from all attendees and do not allow any one or several people to dominate the discussion.
- Develop a parking lot. As off-topic items are brought up, the meeting chair/facilitator refers those items to a parking lot where the scribe logs them. At the end of the meeting or as time allows the chairperson can decide if any of these topics should be addressed or if a follow-on meeting is needed. Remember, this meeting has an objective and all discussion should contribute to that objective.
- Ensure all actions and due dates are logged by the scribe and a responsible person is assigned for each action if possible.
- Have the timekeeper inform the group as the time allocation for an agenda item approaches.
- Once the agenda items have been discussed the facilitator should ask the scribe to read through all of the action items, due dates, and responsible parties so all participants understand.
- At the end of the meeting the facilitator should provide a summary of the meeting and what was accomplished and ensure that the meeting objective was met.
After the Meeting:
- Distribute meeting minutes to all meeting attendees and other interested parties.
- Schedule any follow on meetings.