Poor Project Meetings – 8 Golden Rules to Ensure They Work Effectively

I was trying to get hold of the project manager. Or rather he was trying to get hold of me. However, I had tried 3 times already so I sent him an email knowing it would sink to the bottom of the pile.

I got to thinking that it wasn’t just this project manager who always seemed to be in meetings. Several people I have been trying to get hold of always seem to be in back to back meetings.

Project Agency has been collecting statistics for several years. One of the questions is quite revealing: ‘Project meetings are collaborative events which look at achievements not past failures’. The percentages are shown below:

Strongly agree: 1.3%
Agree: 25.6%
Disagree: 57.3%
Strongly Disagree 12.6%
Don’t know 3.2%

Not very good stats are they? Interesting that just over 3% do not know how effective their meetings are!!

So, what can be done? Well, here are some golden rules for project management meetings (and meetings in general):

Rule 1: Ensure you have the right people at your meetings. May seem obvious but how many meetings go ahead with the wrong people there and the right people ‘on the way’ or a key stakeholder not even invited?

Rule 2: Have an agenda for each meeting and against each item put a time (the length of time the item will take). Ensure you stick to the stated time.

Rule 3: Summarise before moving on to the next point. This ensures everyone is clear about what has been agreed or said. Research points out that the more you summarise, the more people will understand…

Rule 4: Have a stand up meeting! Yes, stand up meetings i.e. NO chairs – speeds up the meeting & it really does focus attention.

Rule 5: Papers…..we are supposedly in the era of a paperless office! Ensure the meeting is not bogged down with papers. Use highlight reports to cut down paper & speed up the meeting.

Rule 6: Rules….what meeting rules have you agreed? I know of one person who said that if the start time for a meeting was 3pm then no one was allowed in after this time! What are the rules for your meetings and does everyone know about them.

Rule 7: Train….yes you can train people to be better in meetings. Chairing a meeting, contributing via appropriate questions, listening, preparing an agenda, these are all areas a person can be trained and developed. Get more information here

Rule 8:  Review how successful your meeting has been.

Meetings are costly. Look around the table and see how much money is tied up in the next one you go to. What is the return on the investment?

Help make sure your meetings go well AND help make the percentage scores above better, much better!!

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