Every project manager knows that their projects can only be successful if they have an effective communication strategy in place. Much of this communication occurs in meetings. Meetings can be productive slots of time where decisions are made and measurable progress is attained; if poorly run they can also be a colossal waste of time and energy!
For those times when a meeting is necessary, here are 5 ways to keep them meaningful and focused:
1. Establish a set day and time for your meetings (ex. 1st and 3rd Thursdays at 10 a.m.) This creates milestones for each team member; if they’re expected to provide a progress report at each meeting, they’ll work harder to complete their tasks rather than show up empty-handed.
2. Always provide a written agenda; it will help to keep the meeting on track. This sample MEETING AGENDA includes all the necessary components for a well-run meeting.
3. Designate a facilitator and a note-taker for each meeting. It’s best if these roles are filled with two different people. The facilitator’s job is to make sure the meeting isn’t hijacked by sidebars and discussions that are off-topic. If this occurs, the facilitator must steer everyone back to the agenda.The note-taker records any votes or decisions, logs progress on existing action items, and documents any new action items and owners.
4. Establish an end time for your meetings. A well-run meeting should never go beyond 90 minutes in length. Attendees tend to lose focus and conversations start to stray from the original topic if meetings go longer than an hour and a half. Let attendees know when the meeting will end, and then honor that commitment.
5. Follow up each meeting by sending meeting minutes to each participant. This is a written record created by your note-taker that reminds every one of the decisions that were made, what action items are still pending, and who is the owner for each new action item identified.
George Bernard Shaw once said, “The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Don’t leave anything to chance; frequent communication through effective meetings will help minimize risk and maintain momentum on your essential projects.