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Projects are well-served by effective meetings held frequently to increase accountability, get problems out on the table early, and keep the project ball moving forward.


Projects are torpedoed by ineffective and wasteful meetings where misguided leaders drone on and on about the project status and bore team members to death.

Project managers have a responsibility to the team to ensure that meetings are dynamic and effective. While there are no hard and fast rules (well, hardly any), there are some guidelines that can help.

1. Plan an appropriate meeting agenda and disseminate in advance.

Know what is best handled in a team environment and what is best handled in other ways. Don’t call meetings when a face-to-face, one-on-one is a better option.

2. Clearly state your meeting objective(s).

Don’t make your meeting attendees guess. Even regularly scheduled meetings should have an objective. If you don’t plan to accomplish something at your meeting, cancel it.

3. Start with something funny.

Consider starting your meeting with a fun activity, designed to get folks to relax and laugh a little. Laughter stimulates the brain. You may find that the rest of your meeting is more productive.

4. Designate time blocks on your agenda.

It helps attendees to understand that half of your meeting is for the purpose of discussing item #4, while item #6 is just a cursory review of the matter. And then, stick to your plan.

5. Understand the purpose of each conversation.

Rambling chitchat with no focus doesn’t advance your project. Direct the conversation by planning ahead and knowing what you want to accomplish. Eliminate side conversations and ensure that all conversation on the topic is directed to the whole group. Consider using a parking lot list to capture items which need further discussion and don’t relate to the meeting objectives.

6. Promote your meeting accomplishments.

Close the meeting by summarizing the key actions and decisions from the meeting. Smart Projex tracks meeting actions and makes that step easier. Promptly disseminate meeting minutes. If your meeting didn’t have enough value to justify minutes, you shouldn’t have had it.

7. Develop a consistent format for meeting minutes.

Skip a full narrative. When team members know where to look to quickly identify action items, decisions, and conversation threads, it helps ensure that team members don’t forget promises.

8. Clarify critical content guidelines for your minutes with management.

Minutes archive meeting details for future reference and inform those who were not present. They also form a framework for accountability. What do you need to remember and what does your boss need to see? Names of those present or just a head count? Final decisions or an elaboration on issues of debate? A roll call of votes or just the outcome?

Time is money. Delight your team. Make your meetings constructive. Implementing these suggestions is easier with a tool that supports meeting planning, gathers meeting data, and promotes communication.

Time is money. Delight your team. Make your meetings constructive. Click To Tweet

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Photo credit: Team Meeting by Jim Larrison; CC BY 2.0 License;