#1 - Plan for it. Never go into a meeting planning to just “wing it.” Your attendees will sense your lack of preparation and take that to mean that your meetings aren’t very important to you. And if they aren’t important to you, then why should they be important to them? So plan well for them, create an agenda, and share that agenda with all planned attendees a day in advance, if possible. That gives everyone enough time to prepare their contributions, if necessary.
#2 - Expect contribution. Next, expect contribution. Construct your meeting and agenda so that you seek input from others in the room and they will know it and expect it. That expected participation will keep attendance high, participation high, and accountability high. All key ingredients for good meetings.
#3 - Don’t bring food. Don’t supply food, don’t bring food and don’t give any indication that food is ok at your meetings. It is disruptive, it makes people sleepy, and it is just plain unprofessional. And for those hungry participants who didn’t bring food, it can be extremely distracting. No food. Period. Unless you are planning an all day session…then yes…you better feed your participants or you will be dispised.
#4 - End on time. Always adhere to the specified timeframe for your meetings. People have other things to do on their jobs – even other meetings to attend even if they aren’t nearly as productive as your meetings. So start on time, end on time, and cover the planned materials.
#5 - Never cancel. One final note – never cancel your meetings. Never doesn’t really mean “never”. But don’t make a habit of canceling a regular weekly project meeting just because there is very little to cover. Even if your weekly project status call or meeting may only last 5 minutes, don’t cancel it. Consistency breeds participation and attendance. As soon as you start to cancel meetings on a regular basis, your attendance levels will dip dramatically. You’ll be the project manager with the unimportant meetings. Don’t be that person.
Again, there is no perfect formula. But by adhering to these five practices, your meetings should be productive, meaningful, effective, and efficient on an ongoing basis. And the project manager who consistently holds those types of meetings will have the highest regular attendance, the great participation levels, and the best meeting outcomes over the course of their project engagements.
Thoughts from our readers? Would you like to share your own stories and tips on running great project meetings? Please share your thoughts by commenting on this article. Thanks!