Does it feel like your project meetings could be better? Maybe they used to be more productive and focused. The discussions might seem less dynamic now, or you’ve noticed that team members no longer leave meetings as engaged on the actions and issues that come out of those conversations. With everything going on, it’s possible your project meetings have become stale or less efficient than they used to be.
Whether you want to put the oomph back in your group meetings or you’re bringing a new team together and want to get things started on the right foot, we’ve compiled a few targeted strategies to help you make your project meetings more powerful.
Trim the attendee list
It’s a rare project meeting that requires the attendance of the entire team. Instead, you’ll get better participation if you keep the attendee list scaled back to include only those representatives that are truly necessary. Do you need just one representative from each cross-functional group? Make that clear in the meeting invite. Will this meeting focus primarily on the upcoming schedule for craft labor resources? Select only those people who are able to contribute to that discussion. The participant list can change frequently without upsetting the team dynamic as long as meetings are productive and people are able to discuss the issues that are on the radar.
Turn to data to help drive the discussions
In this age of technology, projects produce a vast amount of information. Be sure to leverage the data within the team to keep the discussions on track and productive. Whether the focal point is schedule deviation data, actual expenditures versus budget estimates, or projected staffing requirements, be prepared with information to help streamline the meeting and keep the attention on the areas that genuinely need it.
Identify priorities and stick to them
Project meetings can sometimes stray all over the map, especially when the initiative is complex and multi-faceted. If your gatherings seem to wander or if the team spends too much time on one topic, it’s time to give your meetings some structure. Though you may have a standard set of talking points to cover at every meeting—progress updates from the various sub-teams, a review of upcoming activities, etc.—providing participants with an agenda can still be a useful exercise. With the agenda as a guide, you can cover the relevant topics and keep the meeting moving forward.
List action items for everyone to see
The list of current and upcoming project activities is another bit of data that can help keep your meetings on track. You may want to either begin or end project sessions with a quick list of action items. This approach reinforces the high priority for key tasks and also provides a visual reminder of what you’re there to discuss. Wrapping up with an action item list is also useful and helps participants leave the meeting with renewed purpose.
Send out meeting minutes
Even if you use a software platform to maintain project documentation, consider pushing meeting minutes out to team members manually. The reason? Asking people to fetch the minutes themselves means that many of them won’t do it. Either they attended the meeting and they don’t want to spend the time recapping, or they didn’t attend and they don’t feel the need to find out what was discussed. By putting the minutes in front of them, you’re ensuring they’re aware of what happened during the latest meeting—concerns raised, questions asked, and opportunities presented. When it’s easy for them to review meeting minutes, they’re much more likely to do it.
PMAlliance offers project management consulting, training and portfolio management services.