9 Tips for Facilitating Better Project Meetings

As I sat down to put write this blog post, my mind ran to the poster on the right that one my colleagues shared with me a few years ago. I know it’s a bit facetious, but it does make you think about the purpose and function of meetings in our work day. I’m sure we’ve all been there many times.  We’ve agonized through a meeting we had no business attending.  Or the meeting that had no set agenda to drive the conversation and direct decisions. Or the meeting that attendees were not prepared for, which is both frustrating and counter-productive. However, in the right context with the right agenda and attendees, meetings are a very effective way to move work forward.  But to get the most benefit from a project meeting, they must be facilitated efficiently. 9 ways to facilitate better project meetings Only invite necessary attendees Start by keeping the list of attendees as small as possible and limited to those who absolutely need to be there.  There must be a better way to communicate with your teams if every update comes from an all-hands meeting.  Bigger groups are certainly useful for a brainstorm-type session where you need the creative juices to flow openly.  But generally speaking,…

Get More Results from Your Project Sponsor Meetings

Keeping your project sponsor informed about the progress of the project is incredibly important to the overall success of the work. After all, your project sponsor is likely the project customer, and has control over budgets and resources! Meetings are a great way to update the sponsor and get their feedback on any issues or upcoming decisions. Very good sponsors are really busy so you need to plan ahead to get more results from your meetings.   Here is a sample agenda that you can use for your next Project Sponsor meeting: Review and agree the agenda Update on progress and agreed goals Review, discuss and resolve any open risks, issues or change requests Review pending decisions Other feedback AOB (Any Other Business) Summarize the meeting outcomes.   Try these tips to make the most of this agenda outline.   1. Review and agree the agenda The sponsor might not be thinking about your project as you meet so it is a good idea to get an alignment as you start the meeting.  Agree the desired meeting outcome. Explain to the sponsor what it is you wish to achieve and ask what they want to get from the meeting.   2.…

9 Strategies for More Productive Meetings

Think about your most recent meeting. Did you and your project team feel energized or drained afterward? There are so many factors that can lead to unsuccessful meetings. In our DAFT template, I outlined four steps for meetings that connect, involve and inform your team. If you and your team are ready to evolve your meeting practices, try our nine strategies for more productive meetings. I recommend picking one or two suggestions to start with, gradually integrating the other practices over time. This will allow your team to test the new processes before deciding what really works. 1: “We will review each meeting as it ends to see if it was a good meeting or not.” As the meeting ends, ask, “are we more energized than before the meeting?”. If the answer is no, ask the team how to improve the next meeting. Bear in mind that with a collaborative project team, you will have many opinions. Some of the inputs may well be contradictory. That is the strength of a good team – many diverse inputs. Listen to the input of your team and decide what to accept. Implement these ideas at your next meeting for more feedback and…

Get DAFT for Better Meetings

“A meeting is an event where minutes are taken and hours wasted.”      James T. Kirk (William Shatner’s character from Star Trek) Although this quote is not likely from the original TV series Star Trek, the sentiment is very true for many of us. Meetings – so often such a waste of time! Good meetings are essential to collaborative project management. Poor meetings are detrimental to project harmony and project success. Be intentional about how you facilitate meetings and do not take positive outcomes for granted. A good meeting should energise the team, making them feel connected, involved and informed. Productive meetings are essential to making informed decisions, which in turn, keeps your project on track. Consider of the cost of a poor meeting. Four people in a meeting for one hour is pretty close to one working day when preparation time and follow-up are included. Ineffective meetings often lead to poor decisions, which carry the cost beyond the meeting itself.     Have a DAFT Meeting Think about your last meeting. Did you and your team feel more energized and positive afterwards? If you want to improve your meetings, try these three techniques: Desired Outcome, Agenda Facilitator and Take Aways…

PM Tip: Check & Understand Project Progress

A useful way to check and understand project progress is to hold a meeting. However, you need to be careful with how these are run so that they are an efficient use of your and your teams time. Here is a sample five-point agenda you might consider.   1. Check the Status and Health of the Project 2. Discuss any Issues Project meetings can easily get derailed and run over time, so it is key to use the “together time” to problem solve as a team on key issues before the meeting time is used up. Not all issues will be resolved at the project meeting, but discussing the issues will surface them for further deliberation. 3. Look at upcoming tasks It is good to look at what is up next. It makes people aware and helps them focus on the essential upcoming work. While the team is together it is a good time to get the varied inputs of team members on key tasks scheduled to start soon. 4. Look at tasks achieved Many project meetings over-run in our experience! You need to be a really organized facilitator to have meetings start and finish on time. If we know project…

How Much Are Your Meetings Costing You?

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day, and we got talking about work and he said to me that he “it seems like I spend so much time in meetings that there’s no time left to actually do any work!” I thought there was a bit of an exaggeration factor in there, but then again maybe not. As we continued to talk, we got to thinking that that probably wasn’t a unique sentiment. We figured that a lot of people, all over the world, were sitting through unnecessary, unproductive meetings.  (By the way, we have a pretty simple test of a good meeting here at BrightWork… did you leave the meeting with more energy than when the meeting started?) I would bet that we’ve all probably sat through that meeting that we really didn’t need to attend.  Or the meeting that has no agenda that resulted in no real actionable outcomes.  Or the ones where folks are not prepared, which is not only counter-productive, but also really frustrating! Before I go any further, I want to say that I’m not anti-meeting.  In the right context, with the right agenda and attendees, meetings can be a very effective way to get things done.  But I think we all…

8 Travel Tips and Tricks for Project Managers

Will you be spending some time on site, or perhaps you’re getting back to going on site after some time away? Here are a few (of many) travel tips and tricks that I picked up over my time. 1. Sign Up Whether you are staying in a hotel or flying to your location, most companies offer some sort of loyalty scheme with perks such as free wi-fi, newspapers etc. Check internally with others in your group and see if there is one already set up between your organization and the vendor. Larger companies often always have some sort of partnership with hotels, car rentals, and aeroplane companies. Ask your colleagues and peers as well, they may have some travel tips too when it comes to great deals. Avios and Star Alliance are very popular. 2. Charge, charge and more charge! There is nothing worse than being caught without any battery! I often do work on the plane (or sometimes catch up on the latest binge-worthy telly!) and there is nothing worse than the lovely message telling me I’ve hit 14% power. Airports have really improved on providing power points. There is no harm in having a quick look on their…

5 Alternatives to Wasting Time Attending Project Meetings!

Are you wasting time attending project meetings? What springs to mind is the saying “There are only two certainties death and taxes”? Well, if you’ve ever worked on a project, meetings should be included in that list! Many resources find that they are wasting time attending project meetings that, in hindsight, were not even required, or those “meetings about meetings” we all know and love! Think about having 10 people in a one hour meeting with an average resource cost per hour of $25. That is $250 spent on a meeting may not need to go ahead! And that doesn’t take into account the preparation time, travel expense and so forth. Yikes! As a project manager, I may need to look at alternatives to keep my project on track and on budget!! So here are 5 ideas that you could use to help using BrightWork and SharePoint.   1. Discussion Boards Why not put a discussion board on my project site? With teams now working virtually rather than locally, they can collaborate together and help each other out as and when the questions come up and in their own time. And depending on how well the team gets on, they…

10 Practices for Better Project Management Meetings

Meetings – so often there are such a waste of time. Sad really. Years ago my sister sent me a poster – “Meetings – the practical alternative to work”! I will not say which of my four sisters – to protect the guilty one! My test of a meeting is simple enough these days – did we leave the meeting with the same or more energy as when we came into the meeting? Or did we feel lower energy than when we entered the meeting. A good meeting should energise us. If you stop reading this blog article and get nothing more than the idea of this “meeting energy test”, I feel your reading time will not have been wasted – unless of course you do not try out this test! At BrightWork we are exponents of the Start | Evolve approach to improving project management success. None of us have time to get every process perfect today. Was it Saint Augustine in the 4th century who said? – “make me perfect, but not today Lord!”. (At the time of going to press I did not have the time to check my sources on this one, so do correct me please!)…

Conducting Efficient Project Meetings

By now you’re probably well aware that anyone can hold a project meeting, but not everyone has the project management skills to make this time efficient. We’ve all attended meetings that had no clear direction, causing everyone to walk away feeling like they’ve just wasted their time. However, meetings certainly don’t have to be that way. In fact, if conducted properly, they can be productive, and even pleasant. How to Conduct an Efficient Project Meeting If you’re ready to learn how to plan an efficient, well-organized meeting, put the following steps into action: Determine Meeting Purpose: It’s essential to determine the purpose of the meeting prior to scheduling it, as you don’t want to waste anyone’s time. Decide what your goal is first, then use that to plan the rest of the meeting accordingly. Carefully Consider Invite List: The larger an invite list, the more possibility for distraction. Review your invite list and make sure you’re only inviting those who really need to be there. Additionally, you don’t want to develop a reputation of inviting people to meetings they don’t really need to attend, as there’s a good chance they’ll decline your next invite ─ even if you really do…