To make meetings really matter, you just have to be simple and consistent. After all, managing effective meetings is the quickest way to gain credibility with your team and drive real project results. It is vital to prepare well for every meeting, and sincerely value the time contribution of each and every member of your group.
Here is a checklist that will focus your planning:
- Always start on time.
- Always have an agenda.
- Always clearly communicate the purpose of the meeting.
- Always clearly communicate the desired result of the meeting.
- Always set a specific duration for the overall meeting, eg. 1 hour
- Always time each of the major topic areas, eg. Introduction – 10 mins.
- Always pick a Meeting Chairperson.
- Always set the clear expectation that the Chairperson will be the ‘traffic cop’, working to keep the meeting on topic, and on schedule.
- Always provide the opportunity for the group to add to the agenda at the beginning of the meeting.
- Always manage your group to stick to the time estimates.
- In the event that the schedule is slipping throughout the meeting, ensure that you use the final ten minutes to drive for close on key topics. Call for a pause in the action, review what absolutely needs to be addressed in ten minutes, and then work to complete.
- Always reschedule a follow-up meeting if all topics can’t be covered within the scheduled timeframe.
- Always track a list of Action Items throughout the meeting. This includes issue, person responsible, and due date.
- Always summarize Action Items for the group at the end of a meeting.
- Always take Meeting Minutes. All that is required is a collection of simple notes on key points.
- Always follow-up with Minutes in email, or just the list of Action Items.
- Always keep your meetings as short as possible.
- Always finish on time.
Strong meeting management is a skill appreciated by anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Terry Scott is a Technology Project Management specialist who is passionate about process. He can be reached at email@example.com.