Meeting Tips for Project Managers

Meetings – can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

In project leadership, meetings are required, but all to often can be replaced with a conversation, phone call, or email. Effective meeting leadership is the difference between being a coordinator and a true project manager and leader. I have compiled my top meeting tips for project managers below:

Meeting Objective(s)

  • Know the objective(s) of your meeting. What are you hoping to achieve? Is a meeting really required?

Meeting Agenda

  • Once you know the objective(s) of your meeting, this feeds into the development of a meeting agenda. Send out the meeting agenda ahead of the meeting with estimated times for each item, with enough time for meeting invitees to review and provide input if required. Meeting planning via an agenda is essential. It’s easy for meetings to be derailed by side-conversations and/or go in a separate direction – an agenda with defined times for each item will not only help you guide the meeting and stay on track/time, but define the amount of time you need to schedule for the meeting.
  • Review and confirm your agenda with the meeting attendees at the beginning of your meeting.
  • Include an “Other” item on your agenda, with the appropriate time allotted to this item. This time contingency allows for the group to table items outside of your agenda as appropriate.

Meeting Invites

  • Only invite meeting attendees that need to be there, and will be required to carry out an action(s). Include optional invites and/or a meeting minute distribution list for people need to be aware of the meeting and outcome. Treat this like the CC function of an email . If the meeting is part of a series, include previous meeting minutes in the meeting invite for review both previous to and during the meeting.

Pre-Meeting Planning

  • Have you booked a room where your meeting is occurring with enough space for all invitees?
  • Do you need a room with a screen for presentations, outlets for laptops, access to internet, or conference calling? Have you tested the required technology for the meeting?
  • Track the responses of your meeting invitees. Have the key participants accepted your invite? If not, you may need to re-schedule the meeting.

During the Meeting

  • Appoint a minute taker, ideally ahead of time of the meeting.
  • Consider a no phone/laptop policy during the meeting to keep people on track, and their full attention on the meeting.
  • Don’t assume everyone knows each other. Include a roundtable introduction, inclusive of organization and role, if appropriate.
  • Always circulate a meeting attendee sign-in sheet. This allows you to track who was at the meeting, and how to contact them and distribute meeting minutes.
  • As the meeting chair, mediate discussion and keep the meeting on topic. Use a parking lot for items outside of the meeting agenda.
  • Start on time, end on time. Many people have packed schedules. Be professional and considerate by sticking to the time allotted.
  • At the end of the meeting, review and define tasks, owners, and timelines for items from the meeting.

After the Meeting

  • Distribute meeting minutes within 24 but no later than 48 hrs after the meeting. Clearly and accurately summarize the discussions during the meeting, with item owners and due dates.
  • Follow up with item action owners. Keep meeting participants accountable to their respective tasks in the minutes.

When properly executed, meetings can be a powerful and efficient way of making several decisions with multiple team members at one time and place. If not properly planned, and executed, they can also be seen as a waste of time.

This article was provided by RAM’s Director of Project Management, Jesse Unke. For more information about our Project Management Services and our past projects, visit our Project Management page.