October 7, 2007 | Author: PM Hut | Filed under: Communications Management
Holding Productive Meetings - 10 Critical Factors You Should Know
By Jacqueline Geddes
Project managers face the challenge of having limited time for holding project meetings. Teams need time to discuss status, plan, design concepts, resolve problems, present findings, walkthrough documents, and develop products and services. Meeting organizers need to manage these meetings to make sure they are productive. Below are 10 things we have identified as critical to holding productive meetings:
1. Use a meeting checklist
A meeting checklist is a document produced by the individual holding the meeting. The checklist informs the participants and persons arranging the meeting about the structure, objectives, deliverables, attendees and their roles, the room set-up requirements, refreshments, and the type of location.
2. Always use a meeting agenda
Don’t only prepare an agenda: CIRCULATE it beforehand, and USE it. A well thought out agenda, prepared collaboratively with the participants of the meeting, can improve the efficiency of the meeting.
3. Checkout location and test equipment beforehand
Never assume anything about the meeting location. Check it out thoroughly before the meeting day. Are there sufficient parking spaces? How long will it take to park at the particular time the meeting will be held? Are there adequate tables and chairs? Test all the equipment which will be used in the meeting beforehand.
4. Have a “parking lot” for unresolved issues
Set up a parking lot for issues that are taking too much time to be resolved within the meeting. Write the issues visibly on a flipchart or whiteboard so the persons with the issues feel comfortable with the wording of the parked issue. Make sure that a mechanism to deal with the issue is agreed before ending the meeting.
5. Keep note-taking visible
Participants feel more comfortable when agreements made during a meeting are recorded visibly. This could take the form of someone placing the action items and conclusions on a flipchart. This allows the participants to validate the notes taken while still in the meeting. This could prevent misunderstandings later on.
6. Identify persons with hidden agendas early
In most meetings there are persons who have hidden agendas. Sometimes it is not possible to know what is on their mind. A good agenda should keep the meeting on track but if for any reason the hidden agenda surfaces, point out the digression and suggest a more appropriate forum for the issue.
7. Roll the wicket before the meeting
There should never be any surprises for the participants of the meeting. If possible hold one to one sessions prior to the meeting with each participant. If an important decision is to be made in the meeting, it is even more important that these private sessions are held to share new ideas or recommendations which will be shared in the meeting. No one should be surprised.
8. Set up takes time
On the day of the meeting never underestimate the time it will take to set up the room and equipment. Sometimes a simple power cable can be a problem. If this is the first time using the room, get there at least 1 hour before the meeting time. This will provide adequate time to ensure that all equipment, presentations and handouts are in place for the meeting. Starting meetings late can be unproductive. Consider this, if a meeting with 12 participants starts 10 minutes late, this is the equivalent of 2 man-hours.
9. Refreshment is important
Make drinking water available in every meeting. Once the meeting is more than 2 hours, ensure that there are light refreshments. Participants get restless and may even leave if they are hungry or thirsty. Many meetings have had to end earlier than planned because persons were unable to remain without food. Ending meetings earlier than planned is unproductive since the cost of reconvening is normally higher than continuing a meeting.
10. Everyone should be clear on their role in the meeting
The meeting checklist should have detailed the role of every participant, the Chairperson, Facilitator, Notetaker, Participant, Decision Maker, or the Guest. This helps to clarify any misunderstandings participants may have about their presence in the meeting. By knowing exactly what their role is, participants are clear on what part they play and therefore participate more intelligently.
Authored by: Jacqueline Geddes MSc PMP
© 2007 Jacqueline Geddes
Management Consultant, Jacqueline A.M. Geddes has over 20 years consulting experience and provides on-site consulting advice, training and coaching.
Get more information now at http://jageddes.wordpress.com
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