If you are a project manager - you like it or not, you have to deal with multiple meetings almost every day. Many team members do not like (read: hate) status meetings. It is a different story whether you may decide which ones to not to attend but the fact remains, meetings are important for well-organized delivery of projects.
In different project meeting, as a project manager, you need to communicate with project clients, vendors, team members, sponsors, senior management and other stakeholders to discuss various aspects of project like budget, progress, cost overrun, resources, issues, plans, risks, budget, etc.
You wouldn't be surprised to hear these perceptions (mostly negative) about participating in meetings
These concerns can be addressed if everyone participating in meeting understands few specific things mentioned in the section below. Also as a project manager, time is the scarcest and if you have no choice but to keep engaged in meetings- you should make best possible use of it? Here are few tips to help you in effectively managing your meetings.
1. Be clear of the 'Objectives of meeting'
Unless you are clear what to achieve from attending and conducting a meeting, the meeting and discussions may not lead to anything conclusive also, potentially wasting every participant's time and energy. Thus before you schedule any meeting, ensure that you have clear objectives to achieve from a meeting.
2. Who is going to attend it?
If the meeting is expected to conclude in terms of some decision, you will have to ensure that there will be a right representative - decision maker, present in the meeting. The working committee can make all useful discussion and provide recommendation, but if it is going to be a senior manager who is expected to approve it, organizer should inform him/her about it and invite them to meeting.
3. Communicate 'Agenda of meeting'
Meeting objective can be a little broader to follow during a meeting hence you will have to mention specific items to discuss about, or decide about in meeting and that is a Meeting Agenda. It sets the path for a meeting. Meeting organizer should share meeting agenda with every participant, well before the scheduled meeting.
4. Keep discussion on-topic and save everyone's valuable time
Quite often the meeting discussion goes off-topic, sub-group of people starts discussing within themselves. As a meeting coordinator/moderator, you need make everyone to focus on the meeting agenda.
Of course, quick humorous notes/comments are just fine (and at times necessary) to make the meeting environment little relaxed and healthy.
5. Criticize ideas/thoughts but not people
There can be difference of opinions, project stakeholders may have differences, liking for one topic over other or preference for one resource over other; however it is important to focus on the concepts, ideas rather than preferences in people.
Sometimes, meeting participant may tend to criticize other attendee. As a meeting organizer, you are expected to drive them to discuss about his/her concept rather than the proposer.
6. There will be differences, Accept those and move forward
There will be differences of opinion. And for meaningful discussion, not every time, you need to have unilateral/consensus on a given topic. As a meeting attendee or organizer, you should be able to understand and accept these differences, record these and understand what works best for your organization and meets the goal of meeting.
7. Record MoM, and share it along with action items to follow up
It is equally important to carry out post-meeting activities. Experienced organizers keep recording minutes of meeting (MoM), enlist action points with due date and assignee and share this information with all meeting attendees.
8. Start organizing your meetings with a decent tool
As a project manager you always have plenty of meetings to attend every week, too many emails to go through and plethora of agenda to scan, MoM, action items to follow up. There is no easier way of organizing all information without using central meeting manager system. I would like to suggest ZilicusPM meeting manager- to make your life easier; you should organize and manage all your meeting through a simple, centralized, online platform.
Meeting is like pretty much like a drawing board and it is crucial for the successful project planning and project delivery. You should carefully plan for it, attend and organize it in productive manner for effective project management.
How do you make your meeting more productive? Do share your thoughts.