Meetings can be the most productive or frustrating time spent during the working day. And, in coaching my clients, I suggest that meeting management can effectively make or break a Project Manager.
Consider the following:
- Most people do NOT want to be at “another” meeting, given that “too many” take longer than necessary due to a lack of meeting management, resulting in the waste of some amount of time
- During the meeting our attendees are often thinking about something else
- When we call a meeting we fully OWN it, along with managing the related dynamics, and most importantly the outcome
- The outcome includes how people feel about us and the confidence they have in our ability to effectively lead the team and successfully complete the project
PM’s would be wise to consider this our most important opportunity to create and maintain:
- Cross-functional engagement, alignment and communication
- A sense of urgency
- SIGNIFICANT forward progress!
To do so we must be HIGHLY adept at meeting management, which requires preparedness, setting the pace and tone, an ability to dance as well as the all-important follow-through. Let’s now cover each.
In determining if we should actually schedule a meeting it is important to know EXACTLY what we want to accomplish. To do this, we can ask ourselves:
- What are my key objectives?
- How will I advance the ball in this meeting?
- What new or updated information will be shared?
- What key decisions do I need made or made known?
- Are there critical issues keeping me up at night, regarding this project? Is the team aware / engaged?
- Will it be a working or informational meeting, or a bit of both?
- How can I make best use of any remaining time, or release the team?
Key Guideline: NEVER, EVER, MEET JUST TO MEET…
Once we’ve confirmed the need to meet we then consider the attendees necessary to support the intended outcome.
When preparing the invite, we must realize that we likely won’t find a time that works for everyone. As such, we’ll pick a time that works for the “most” people, placing what we consider the most critical participants (key SMEs who must weigh-in on a subject, executive sponsor who has important information to share, etc.) at the top of the list. And, do everything in our power to ensure they are available to attend.
When considering what we want to accomplish during the meeting, know that we are not alone. That is, our project’s Executive Sponsor and other leaders are there to support us, in the success of the project. As such, it is important to leverage them accordingly. This includes, as appropriate:
- Reviewing the meeting objectives, agenda and any key developments (accomplishments, risks or issues) with them in advance.
- Agreeing with them on their role which could range from covering a specific topic or update, to just being present, which says a LOT about the importance of the initiative.
Key Guideline: never surprise the Executive Sponsor or key stakeholders “in meeting”!
From here, we’ll send the agenda to attendees, clearly indicating expectations, including:
- Rough timing for topics
- Reinforcing the fact that specific team member(s), who’ve agreed in advance to do so, will be prepared to speak on a particular topic
- Clearly articulating the details to join the meeting in-person or remote
From here, it is all about execution. In the next posts we’ll cover the remaining Meeting Management topics including; setting the pace and tone, our ability to dance and the all-important follow-through.
In the meantime, if you are looking to improve PM competencies in your organization, or yourself, feel free to reach out to learn how I can help.
3 thoughts on “PM: Meeting Management – Part 1”