Being able to manage project meetings is a feature that every successful Project Manager should have.
Each project requires periodic meetings where stakeholders meet to discuss goals, assigned tasks, and progress of the project.
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Project meetings are an effective way to communicate, solve problems ,and develop skills. They can also be used as a tool to increase morale and create a sense of camaraderie within the team, which increases productivity.
However, in order for the meetings to produce the desired results, they must be effective.
The phases of a project meeting and how to manage them
In general, it is up to the project manager to determine the frequency of the meetings and to create an agenda for each one.
This task should not be be taken lightly. In fact, if the participants’ time is wasted, they will become uncooperative, which can endanger the very success of the project.
In principle, we can distinguish three phases that characterize a meeting: before, during and after the meeting.
Managing a project meeting: Things to do before the meeting
It all starts with a plan. Each meeting must have a clear purpose. Sometimes it is even necessary to bring together all the stakeholders for a brainstorming on the right goal.
For regular meetings, such as weekly team meetings or weekly client status meetings, the goal is likely to go beyond the current status of the project and provide updates on key activities, results and problems.
For an effective planning, here are the essential elements to consider:
- How long should the meeting last?
- Who should participate?
- How should the agenda look like?
- Which key goal do you want to achieve?
Here are more concrete suggestions to follow:
- Set goals. If you do not set clear goals, the meeting is bound to fail. Without a clear goal, the meeting will not produce results; therefore, no solution will be generated. Before deciding on the date on which to hold the meeting, it is necessary to make sure that you have set a series of SMART goals.
- Write an agenda for the meeting. Developing and following an agenda helps make the meeting more effective. Thanks to the agenda the project manager will have, in fact, more possibilities to finish the meeting with the expected results and in a more rapid way.
- Keep the documentation organized and available. This means that it is necessary to make the meeting documents as short and concise as possible. If the documentation is too long and chaotic, in fact, you risk disorder or the loss of important information.
- Invite the right people. Knowing the goal perfectly allows to know the right people to invite to the meeting.
- Create an appropriate and comfortable physical environment. The project meeting must be conducted in a comfortable and well-ventilated room. Do not forget the presence of water and coffee that will make participants feel more at ease.
- Start and end the meeting in time. People don’t like it when an event goes on too long or starts late. It is very likely that the participants have work to do outside the meeting and consequently they would like their work schedule not to be ruined. It is necessary to ensure that each participant is aware of the start and end time. Moreover, it is advisable to send notifications and reminders of the time to the participants.
Managing a project meeting: Things to do during the meeting
- Always start the meeting in time. Unless there is an urgency or an unforeseen event, any meeting must always start at the scheduled time.
- Finish on time. Similarly, it is important to end the meeting as close as possible to the planned end time. The closing time must be made clear in the invitation, on the agenda, and in the pre-meeting information. Often, the start time is set, but nobody knows exactly at what time the meeting will end. This hinders the possibility for the participants to organize themselves with their next job.
- Never cancel a meeting. There can certainly be good reasons to cancel a meeting, but generally this is a bad idea. The participants have extra organized themselves on the basis of the meeting and apart from catastrophic events, it is always good to stick to it.
- Take notes. Above all, the project manager, as well as the contact person for the project’s communications, must make sure to take detailed notes. It is necessary to document all the decisions made, the tasks performed, the updated questions, the progress of the activities, and the concerns that have been discussed. Record as many details as possible and as accurately as possible for the follow-up.
- Keep the meeting positive and encourage comments. If the team sees that the project manager is positive and motivated about the project or topic of discussion, this enthusiasm will affect them. In meetings regularly scheduled with the team, a suggestion is to give recognition to employees who are doing an excellent job, this will keep a positive tone during the meeting and stimulate morale.
Managing a project meeting: Things to do after the meeting
After the meeting, it will be advisable to distribute the notes and the meeting protocol as quickly as possible to all participants. It will also be essential to ask for their feedback or their revisions within a certain deadline.
Following the suggestions, the project manager can review the protocol and send the final and updated copy again.
Effectively manage project meetings: conclusions
Here are the ingredients to plan and carry out effective project meetings.
Following these suggestions, it is possible to transform project meetings into effective and productive meetings, with awake and even interested participants.
As a project manager, you will always have plenty of meetings to attend every week.
Organizing all the information that comes with it is not easy. Surely, there is no easier way to organize all the information than to use a project management software suitable for the purpose, here you can find some tips to choose a project management software. In TWproject for example, it is possible not only to enter the dates of the meetings, but also to automatically update the workflow based on the decisions made during each meeting.
A well-organized meeting is a great way to allow efficient work within the team.
Well-managed project meetings allow teams to overcome the maze of distractions and obstacles to achieve results.