PM: Meeting Management – Part 2

Now that we’ve introduced Meeting Management and covered the topic of preparedness, we’ll now discuss: setting the pace and tone of the meeting.

Setting the pace and tone of the meeting begins BEFORE anyone else arrives!

To support this, we must apply the guideline: If we are on time, we are late. So, be early!

Being a few minutes early allows us time to ensure the meeting room is setup properly, there are no messes on the table or whiteboard that could serve as a distraction and that our web conference lights-up, with no issues.

As people enter the room (physically or virtually) we are ready to promptly and courteously greet or introduce ourselves to them and take names to acknowledge their attendance in our meeting notes.

At this point, we must do everything in our power to actually START the meeting as close to the scheduled time as possible. If you recall, during the preparation stage, we considered our attendees and who may be absolutely critical to the discussion. When (not if) a critical person doesn’t show up on time, we have a couple of choices:

  • If the overall meeting requires the specific person and/or the first subject to be covered sets the tone and bearing for the discussion, we need to immediately contact the person on their mobile phone to find out if they will be able to join us (as previously committed). Note: this applies regardless of who the person is; individual contributor up to and including the executive sponsor. If we learn they cannot make it we will need to reschedule. In doing so, it will be crucial to engage with this person to determine how we can ensure they will be in attendance at the agreed upon (re-scheduled) time.
  • If the topic for which this person is critical can be moved further down the agenda, without impacting the overall objective of the meeting, we can begin the meeting. And, if the person turns out to be a no-show, it will be important to engage with them to determine how we can ensure they make future meetings when their presence is important.

Project Managers will do well to take the above approach, as doing so demonstrates to those who are in attendance that we respect their time and take the use of their time VERY seriously. And, it lets the late arrivals and no-shows know that we will be “coming for them” – real-time!

Once we achieve critical mass we should begin the meeting by briefly restating the purpose and reviewing the agenda.

A few guidelines as the meeting unfolds:

  • Know that we (the meeting scheduler) OWN the meeting, managing the dynamics in the “room” and the outcome!
  • Keep things moving and to the point – at all times!
  • Allow NO time for side conversations, pauses or letting conversations go beyond their usefulness (towards achieving OUR agenda).
  • Ensure we aren’t doing most of the talking, unless we are delivering a slew of updates.
  • Randomly call on people to ensure engagement in the discussion so we keep people on their toes and don’t bore them with a monologue…
  • Close out each topic by summarizing the outcome and asking: “Anything else on this topic?” allowing just a couple seconds, then GO – on to the NEXT!
  • Queue up the next item, guide the discussion and close it. Don’t fill empty air with unnecessary words.
  • Keep time to ensure (as best as possible) that:
    • absolutely critical topics are covered
    • “not-so-critical” items are handled as time permits.
  • And, finally, keep it fun (as best we can)!

If there is time remaining after the agenda is covered we have a few considerations:

  • Do we have any “not-so-critical” items that this group, or a subset there-of, could address?
  • Do others have topics, relevant to the project, that could be addressed?
  • If there are no topics warranting attention at this time, by all means, give the team back their time!

Now that we’ve covered meeting preparedness, and setting the pace and tone, we’ll cover the remaining topics in future posts, including: 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.

Click here to go to the next article in this series.

2 thoughts on “PM: Meeting Management – Part 2

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s