Love them or hate them, the running of project meetings is a big part of any project manager’s role. You might find this a worrying idea at first but there are some simple tips which can help you run successful and productive meetings. Here are some of the best ones to get you started.
Turn Up On Time
You weren’t thinking of sauntering in a few minutes late, were you? I am sure that you weren’t but you definitely can’t forget the importance of your presence at these meetings and the image you need to give out. Apart from these points, getting there a bit early will mean that you can settle down and think about the meeting before it all kicks off. I like to get there about 10 minutes early to check out the conferencing facilities and anything else which might need to be sorted. If the meeting room is far away I would build in some extra contingency to ensure I don’t turn up late.
Know What You Want
Not every meeting can result in ground shaking results but you should at least know what you want before each one starts. This is a very important point when you get to the sharp end of the project but it is equally worth bearing in mind at any stage. You might simply want to get to the end of the meeting with any problems in some cases and this is fine provided that you have the objective clear in your head. If you enter that meeting room without knowing what you are after then you are leaving yourself open to running into problems. Sometimes all you will have to do it think clearly for a few minutes before leaving your office but this thinking time could make all the difference.
Get Clear Action Items
Most meetings end up with action items being drawn up. However, it isn’t always clear who needs to do what and by when. I usually ask one of my team members to note down the action items and to run through them at the end of the meeting. These then get added to the minutes and then onto the agenda for the next project meeting. By doing this you will probably always have a list of outstanding action points on your agendas. This might look a bit messy but it is a good way of keeping on top of everything which needs done instead of running the risk of forgetting what people have agreed to do.
Get People Involved
A lot of stakeholders don’t really like going to project meetings. There are different reasons for this apathy but it is fair to say that in a lot of cases they just don’t feel as though they have much chance of getting involved. If you are going to go to the bother of inviting people and they make the effort of turning up then you should be sure to get them involved. Some stakeholders are simply quieter than others when it comes to making their feelings known but you need to make it clear that everyone is entitled to make their voice heard. Going round the table and asking people for their individual opinions on a one by one basis might seem a bit too much like being in school but it can work. Some people only need one opportunity to get involved for them to feel more confident about participating and speaking up in the future.
After those previous points it might seem a bit weird to say that you should try to enjoy the meeting. However, what else can you do? You are going to run a lot of project meetings in your career and if you don’t find a way of enjoying them then they could turn into your worst nightmare. I suppose that we each need to find our own ways of enjoying these meetings. I like to try and get a bit of fun into them and I always encourage presentations and anything which is a break from just sitting around and talking. You shouldn’t be afraid of trying new things and looking for interesting ways to get more out of the experience. The people who are your stakeholders will largely define how formal or informal you can be but in my experience no one really has any problems with a more laid back approach as long as you are serious about the issues which you need to be serious about.