Since accurate project information is critical these two meetings are usually our best ways to get and give accurate and timely project status updates, we want them to also be worthwhile. And by worthwhile, I mean meaningful, accurate, timely, efficient, productive, etc. All those ingredients that could go into what most of us would consider to be a good meeting.
For me, it's a process that doesn't just happen...rather it involves a few key steps...
Plan who really should be there. Only invite those you need. If you try to bring everyone into the picture – even those that could just get followup notes through email but aren't needed for decision making or discussion – then you can get a reputation as a time waster. And don't worry about those that may have their feelings hurt by not being invited to your little soiree. That petty emotion does not need to be enabled.
Put together a great agenda but keep it on subject. You don't need to cover everything in each meeting – you need to stay on task. In fact, you should always try to keep meetings to one hour or less. If it needs to be longer than it probably should be multiple meetings because you're likely covering more than one important (but understandably related) topic anyway.
Followup after the meeting. This may be the most important part and the least followed-through upon. Once each meeting is over, for most it's over. But really, that's where the rubber meets the road to make sure everyone has the same post-meeting understanding. As the PM, it's your job to make sure that's happening. Send out your project meeting notes as soon as possible asking for a 24 hour turn around on any changes or additions from your key stakeholders. You may have missed something, too.
Summary / call for input
Meetings are necessary evils...like cars. Unless you collect them, you really only need cars because you have to get from point “A” to point “B.” And they cost money and time. Meetings can be the same way, but you need the participation and you need the information that you can get out of them. So plan, prepare and conduct. Make them effective, efficient, and worthwhile. You want high attendance and participation because the last thing you want to do is have a meeting again to cover one that wasn't productive.
What about you – what are your secrets to effective and productive meetings? What steps do you take before, during and after to help ensure you get the most out of the meetings you conduct? Please share your own thoughts and experiences and let's discuss.