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How Effective Are Your Meetings? Tips to Improve Meeting Effectiveness

April 27, 2011

Meetings are a key communication tool for Project Managers, however ineffective meetings can damage a Project Manager’s credibility as well as reduce team morale and productivity. How can you improve your meetings? Here are few suggestions/recommendations:

  • Agenda – All meetings should have an agenda that clearly outlines everything to be covered in the meeting.  Distribute the agenda  prior to the meeting and identify what, if any, pre-work is required from the attendees.  Use the agenda to keep the meeting on track.  Allow time within the agenda for feedback and time to cover new issues or topics.
  • Time Management – Keep the meeting on schedule – NEVER go over the allotted time without asking permission from the group.  The never-ending meeting is disrespectful to attendees and damages your reputation.  People will be less willing to attend your meetings if they are not certain how long it will run or whether you will be able to keep the meeting on track.  Work towards making the meeting as short and effective as possible.  If you are able to end the meeting early, do.
  • Ground Rules – If meeting behavior is not clearly defined in your organization, or if current meeting behavior is problematic, identify ground rules for meetings.  Less is better of course, and some of the most common issues are tardiness, use of electronic devices, respect for others and being prepared.  Ensure that the team understands and agrees to the ground rules.   Ask for and incorporate the team’s suggestions for ground rules.  Explain how ground rule infractions will be dealt with and be prepared to follow through on those actions.
  • Round Table – Allow time in the agenda for everyone on the team to report out.  Create an atmosphere of open communication and collaboration.  At the very least each attendee/team member should update the team on what they have completed since the last meeting, what they will have completed by the next meeting and any obstacles or issues that they are facing.  Encourage the team to share information, issues, risks and questions.
  • Parking Lot – When discussion of topics or issues goes off track or goes on too long, add them to the parking lot.   Explain how the issue or topic will be addressed/handled.
  • Interactivity – Make it easy to express ideas and thoughts providing a whiteboard, flip chart or other ways to communicate.  Simplify complex ideas or topics with simple diagrams.  Invite others to use these tools to express themselves.
  • End with Review –  Allow time at the end of the meeting to review the highlights and action items and allow for questions.  If there are no action items – what was the point of the meeting?
  • Evaluate and Adjust – Check in regularly with the attendees to see how effective the meetings are for them.  Ask for suggestions to improve the meetings.  Encourage continuous process improvement.
These are a few thoughts from me, I would like to hear what has worked or is working for you.
Update 4/28/2011  – Left out an important tip!
  • Meeting Minutes – Document the meeting outcome.  Send the meeting minutes to the attendees and affected stakeholders as soon as possible after the meeting, preferably within 24 hours of the meeting.  Use the meeting minutes to create the agenda for the next meeting.
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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Freedom, by the way permalink
    April 29, 2011 5:37 am

    Excellent!

  2. November 14, 2012 9:36 pm

    Hi,
    Your article on effective meetings is very informative and really a good resourceful content. However the success of a meeting depends on various pre-requisites such the relevant participants, suitable time & venue, a clear cut agenda for the meeting and the minimum time which is allotted to it.
    Please visit our Blogs and share your views with us
    http://goo.gl/m42Ke
    Thanks and Regards,
    Ruhi Desai,
    Senior Business Development Manager @ Sapience Analytics Pvt Ltd

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