How to Have an Effective Project Team Meeting

Following good meeting management procedures can have a highly positive effect on your project:

  • People will be more willing to attend meetings that run smoothly.
  • The team will feel a sense of accomplishment that increases commitment and willingness to do project work.
What to do:
  • Take time to plan the meeting
  • Follow guidelines for running an effective meeting
  • Don’t forget to follow up after the meeting.

Do people really need to be told how to hold a meeting?

Whenever I cover meeting management, I feel a need to apologize for telling people what they already know. Who hasn’t heard you should have an agenda? Keep a task list? Record decisions?

Then I see when working with project teams when a meeting task is assigned; even though the teams know they are being watched (for instructional purposes) and even though we just finished discussing the need for meeting management, the teams go into their next meeting without an agenda, and no one writes anything down.

They spend the first half of the next meeting trying to remember what they agreed to at the last meeting. Usually, at least in workshops, people are willing to use these techniques once they see how inefficient their meetings are. To my surprise, participants routinely rate this time as highly valuable. People often ask for extra copies of the Checklist: Running the Project Team Meeting to use in their team meetings, other organizations, volunteer groups, etc. They complain about leaving their team meetings unsure whether decisions have been made. The group can move on in the agenda (if there is an agenda) without specifically dispensing with the current agenda item.

The simple Checklists for Planning, Running, and Following up After the Project Team Meeting described above save endless hours, but teams often resist using them. I’ve seen the best results when the team leader (or another team member) makes a running joke by sticking to the structure until it becomes second nature to the entire group.