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Project Manager’s Guide to Effective Meetings

By November 9, 2012May 22nd, 2021Blog

Project Managers are continually task with both scheduling and conducting meetings. With this in mind I wanted to provide my advice on tips to make those meetings as effective as possible.

  1. Ensure the right people are in meeting. If there are decisions to be made, ensure that the decision maker(s) are present and empowered to make final decisions. Ensuring the right folks are in the room also means not inviting more people than necessary to the meeting. This can lead to off topic conversations and side bar conversations.
  2. Assign pre meeting action items or work. If people need to follow up on tasks or read materials before the meeting, ensure they are aware of these requirements and complete the work.
  3. Publish an agenda before the meeting. This suggests not only creating an agenda, but also circulating it before the meeting to ensure everyone is in agreement as to what are the contents and expected outcomes of the meeting.
  4. Establish a “parking lot”. This suggests a whiteboard or other means by which thought or ideas can be captured that are directly applicable to the topic at hand.
  5. Start and Stop on time: Try to build on organizational habit of holding meetings within the timeframes outlined. There must be a huge amount of labor dollars wasted in business each year by simply having meeting attendees sitting around a table waiting for the rest of the attendees to join the meeting.
  6. Use technology for remote meetings. With products like Microsoft Lync, remote locations can be brought together effortlessly for both audio and video meetings. Sharing of materials on the screen is also quite easy. This one tip saves me significant time each week.
  7. Take minutes and establish specific action items and assignments. During the meeting ensure that someone is designated to take notes and establish action items with both due dates and resource assignments during the meeting.

I’m not sure anyone really likes going to meetings, but I hope that these tips will help in making those necessary meetings as effective as possible.

Dan Thompson, PEI

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2 Comments

  • Rick Lent says:

    These tips are fine, but may not go far enough for many projects. This is particularly those with large teams, multiple stakeholders, complex decisions, and so on. How are difficult decisions managed? What if the project team is large (more than 8) and diverse? And so on.

    I have identified 12 choices for structuring any meeting to make it more effective …and various tools to support implementing these choices. I’ve used these tools in project meetings but I am trying to make them accessible to any leader. I’d love to know how you see these choices and tools applied to project meetings. See http://www.meetingforresults.com or my e-book/job aid Meeting for Results Tool Kit: Make Your Meetings Work (on Amazon and other e-book retailers).

  • Avi Kaye says:

    Excellent points – I would also add ‘schedule a follow up meeting’. If you assign tasks during the meeting itself (and you should), then scheduling a follow up meeting means those tasks have some sort of deadline, or milestone. This will motivate people to get things done.

    As for the hours wasted in meetings, we created the meeting cost calculator so that you can see just HOW much money is wasted – https://meetingking.com/meeting-cost-calculator/

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