There is no right or wrong way to be an effective Project Manager, everyone had a strategy that works for them. Meetings however, are not the at all the same. Meetings are a business tradition that has been passed on through generations of “best practice” but typically, they are not the best at anything. In fact, I would argue that the majority of meetings that I attend and completely unnecessary, and I know I am not alone. An article by Research Digest estimated that America loses $37 Billion in revenue annually due to unorganized and unproductive meetings.
If meeting are costing us so much money, then why do we have so many? There are definitely 2 sides to that coin, and I’ll let you determine which of your meetings falls on which side. The first, they can be critical for successful teamwork and collaboration. Working in adjacent cubicles and talking about a project as you go through it together is great, but most of us don’t have that luxury. In my last blog post about organization, I even go into the importance of having meetings to keep track of recent events and set a game plan for moving forward. The problem comes with the other side of spectrum, the abusers. I can’t tell you how many meetings I have sat in and just known that it has nothing to do with me. Or my team member has an important task I need done ASAP and they are unable to get to it because that have back to back…to back meetings for 4 hours. I have even heard the phrase “meetings are for people who don’t like to work” thrown around.
As with anything, there is a right and a wrong way to hold meetings. Through my personal experiences and some tips I have learned though articles I have read in the past (references below), here are some of the most important take away regarding how to make your meetings effective.
- Don’t hold a meeting for the sake of meeting. If there is a topic that can be addressed 1 on 1 and a follow up group email, chose that route rather than involving too many people.
- Invite the right people. Most meetings are focused just a few individuals, but seem to involve many more. Limit the attendees to ensure the meeting stays on task and is effective
- Cut the meeting time in half. Meetings have a tendency to fill up the time allotted, if you limit that time to a much smaller window, everyone will be required to participate efficiently to complete the agenda. I really liked that one from Forbes.
- Make an agenda and stick to it. Write it down and hold everyone to it.
- Set a code of conduct. Ensure everyone at the meeting is aware of what is expected of them and if they are to give responses or pitches, there should be known method to proceed.
I know there are a million sites out there say different way to make meeting more effective and engaging, but these are the few I think are absolutely critical and easy to apply immediately to ensure we make the most of our time every day. If you have had a bad meeting experience, leave a comment, I love to hear your story!