Colin D Ellis
Leadership | Culture | Success

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Project Meetings: You're Doing Them Wrong

I'm currently mentoring a senior project manager, who asked me to sit in on one of their project team meetings. It's fair to say that the meeting - while good natured - was fairly shambolic and they ran out of time before getting to item three on the 11 point agenda.

In the de-brief afterwards, I gave the group 15 tips to help them run productive project meetings:

  1. Finding a time when everyone's free is good, but getting their commitment to attend is better. A 'tentative' doesn't mean they're coming
  2. Make sure that there's an agenda in the meeting invite which also states the objectives of the meeting. What's in it for the attendees?
  3. Only invite the people that absolutely need to be there. Meetings are not the place for FYIs
  4. Set the expectation with regards to phones and laptops at the start of the meetings and by that I mean tell everyone to put them away. If they insist on using them throughout the meeting it's obvious they need to be elsewhere
  5. Start on time and finish on time. Finishing earlier - having achieved the objectives - is even better
  6. Stop starting meetings on the hour or on the half hour - that's just convention - start them at ten-past, for example, to give people time to get there
  7. Don't say 'it's alright' if people come in late - it's not
  8. If people have to take calls or leave early, ensure that they apologise to the room (not the chair) in advance - it shows respect for the other attendees
  9. Make sure you give people enough time to read documents if you're looking for their feedback - one day is not enough
  10. Don't allow side conversations while someone else is talking - it's just plain rude
  11. People who are invited in to present should only stay for their portion of the meeting - then they should leave
  12. Make sure there's some laughter to lighten the mood (and maybe even some biscuits) - make your meetings enjoyable
  13. Make sure that the actions at the end of every meeting are clear and have been agreed to - so people know what they're on the hook for
  14. Oh and make sure that people have completed the actions when they said that they would (you may need to remind them in between meetings) - make accountability in your meetings mean something
  15. Thank everyone for their time and input - because they're busy and made time for you.

Did I miss anything?

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Colin Ellis