Project Management – Meetings
Generally, I like meetings. They are good for gathering information, delivering one’s results and becoming aware of the project status. Even more importantly, all team members meet in the flesh and decisions can be made fast and easily. Sometimes …
Sometimes meetings are a real pain. Why? Because they’re poorly organized: before, during or after the meeting. This means, you spend a lot of time at the gathering, but in the end: no results at all.
Tutorials, instructions and hints on how to make meetings efficient can be found everywhere on the internet. There are plenty of blogs, YouTube videos, podcasts, and user groups filled with this kind of advice. More of this sort is available at every good bookstore. But – why are there still inefficient meetings?
Let’s talk about some real basics about meetings.
The Purpose of Meetings
Meetings are really expensive. If a meeting lasts two hours and there are four people participating, the costs are equivalent to one man-day. That’s pretty expensive, isn’t it?
So, there are some questions that should be asked before holding a meeting: Do we really need a meeting? What should be the outcome of this particular gathering? Who really needs to participate in this meeting? After answering these questions a suitable time has to be found for the appointment. When planning a meeting always remember: everyone should have enough time to read the agenda and prepare.
Starting, leading and closing the meeting isn’t an easy task. But someone has to do it. During the meeting decisions are made and tasks are delegated.
Some work has to be done afterwards. For example, it is necessary to write the minutes and check the results.
Preparing a Meeting
At a meeting, the participants have the opportunity to discuss relevant topics, do some work and make decisions. Who needs to be present? Who provides necessary data, who should do the work and who can make the decisions? All these people have to been invited.
An invitation must include the agenda. Everyone should be informed about the reason for the meeting. Everybody should be able to prepare for the discussions.
If the agenda is presented when the meeting starts, this will cause delays. Everyone will be reading the topics and precious discussion time will be lost.
Everyone should join the meeting when it starts. A clear path through the agenda is essential to make efficient use of time. It is good to start an issue, discuss it, make the required decisions, and determine who should do what until a given deadline. Leading a meeting isn’t an easy job. But this job is important to get good results.
After the Meeting
After the meeting the minutes summarizing all information discussed must be sent to all participants. This is very important for delivering good results. Everyone should know what to do and when to deliver.
No minutes or sending them long after the meeting may counteract or entirely obliterate the effect of the meeting. This means that the time spent at the gathering was futile and the associated costs were wasted.
Checking the Results of a Meeting
Checking the results of the topics discussed helps to save time and money. It is possible no other meeting will be needed any time soon or that someone else is required to participate in the next meeting.
This means the whole process starts over again: a new schedule with the necessary participants, a new agenda, and so on.
Making Really Great Meetings
Making efficient meetings doesn’t need all that much. But some basics as those mentioned above should be observed. Time management, minutes on SharePoint, using Power Point efficiently, the integration of multimedia devices, teleconferences; all this will certainly help … but we should always keep in mind the basics.