A hugely important part of the role of Project Manager is the meetings they chair, either board meetings with more senior staff or team meetings with colleagues. Their demeanour at these meetings is crucial to the confidence everyone will have with the project and how it is progressing so the following tips might help:
1.Prepare well. (Remember PPPPPP!!) Never go into a meeting without knowing what you want to get out of it
2.Ask for input to the agenda, is there something attendees want to raise?
3.Have an agenda, even for a regular board meeting – send the agenda out a few days beforehand and make the objectives clear (“By the end of this meeting we will have approved the PID” or “…we will have agreed XYZ” or just “I will have updated you on the progress of the project”. )
4.Put timings against your agenda items – this is vital to control ‘chatty’ attendees, you can use it as a tool to get them back on track.
5.Send out links to documents you want the attendees to read / comment on / approve a few days in advance and make it clear what you want them to do.
6.Send out links to the project log and previous meeting minutes etc as part of the agenda.
7.Make it clear if you will be bringing paper copies of anything or if you expect them to bring their own
8.If it’s a board or team meeting, bring copies of the Action log and the project plan (and the risks and issues if they are going to be discussed) or have a screen available with them on.
During the meeting
1.You are in charge! Be assertive and confident. Speak up and take control. Sound confident even if you don’t feel it inside. It might be outside your comfort zone, but just do it.
2.Start by reiterating what your objective is “by the end of this meeting we will have….” (If you can’t think of what you want to accomplish, don’t hold the meeting!)
3.Take notes – you must record that your Exec said we were not going to do X but do Y instead. Or that XXX raised an issue. Record actions agreed.
4.Remember you are meeting with busy people, finish early if there is not an hours worth of stuff to discuss, they will appreciate the time to catch up with something else. (and cancel the meeting all together if there is nothing worth meeting for!).
After the meeting
1.Follow up any quick queries that were raised.
2.Send out minutes (can be in an email) promptly – record decisions taken, comments made and most importantly actions agreed. File the email with the project documents.
3.Give the attendees a deadline for anything you want them to read / approve – don’t just send out something open ended, you’ll never get a response. Tell them you need it by Friday and they’ll get back to you.
A note about agendas…
You can use your project documents to drive the meetings – so a board meeting can be around a summary of the progress made in the project (using the highlight report perhaps) and a discussion around current risks and issues from your consolidated log (send out links beforehand). Team meetings can be based on your PBS (Product Breakdown Structure) and an action log, so everyone knows what you are trying to achieve (your products) and who’s doing what.