5 Tips for Project Meetings that Will Leave Everyone Feeling Accomplished

Productive meetings every time

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Meetings can be very hit-or-miss. They can be a great way to check in with colleagues, set goals, outline task lists and get things accomplished, but they can also be a huge waste of time if not done properly.

Don't waste your time or your colleague's time with pointless or ineffective meetings that only take up space in the day. Follow these five tips for great project meetings that will leave everyone feeling accomplished.

1. Define Your Purpose

Before you even announce your meeting, the very first step you should take is to determine why you want to have a meeting in the first place. Don't hold regular meetings just for the sake of having them. Every meeting should have a clear-cut purpose, and that purpose needs to be decided ahead of time.

For example, the purpose of your meeting may be to share complicated or important information with your team members in a quick and efficient way, to brainstorm potential options for current or future projects, to make a joint decision as a team, or to quickly check in to see how everyone is doing and what everyone needs to be doing next.

When your meetings start with a clear and defined purpose, not only do they end much faster, but you get a lot more done.

2. Create and Distribute Your Agenda in Advance

Once you know what your meeting will be about, it is essential that you let everyone involved know as well.

The best way to do this is to create and distribute an agenda in advance. This way, you can gather any important information and questions ahead of time and everyone can come prepared to discuss and act on the topic at hand.

Read 10 tips for a good agenda and get a free template here.

3. Give Everyone a Chance to Talk

In an effort to save time and get everyone back to work, it may be tempting to have one person present the meeting while everyone else listens.

Resist this urge. Instead, give everyone a chance to talk that wants or needs to. Doing so will make sure everyone's concerns and objections are addressed, and it may even provide you with additional ideas you wouldn't have considered before.

4. Write Up Minutes Quickly

If your meeting will involve any decision making or last more than five minutes, you need to make sure that someone on the project team takes minutes. Your project coordinator could do this. Not only can these minutes help people who may have missed the meeting to catch up, but they also serve as an important reminder of decisions made and action steps decided for those who were there. Make them available as soon as possible.

Memories can be tricky. Don't give yourself or your colleague the opportunity to disagree about decisions or plans that were made. If the topic of your meeting is important enough to hold a meeting for, it is important enough to get in writing.

5. Cancel if Not Needed

Cancelling a scheduled meeting can leave your colleagues feeling relieved or aggravated--it's all in how you approach it. For example, if your colleagues are behind on work and would enjoy an extra hour in the day, cancelling your meeting can be a huge relief.

If they missed out on other important engagements due to the meeting you scheduled and then cancelled, don't be surprised if they are aggravated.

Don't feel obligated to hold a meeting just because you planned one. If the meeting is no longer necessary, the information can be obtained some other way or if an emergency comes up, you should cancel. Make sure you cancel as far in advance as you can, however, and that you keep people informed of what is happening and why. This way, everyone can use their time as effectively and efficiently as possible.

As a professional project manager, it is your job to make sure that all tasks are accomplished as effectively and efficiently as possible--including meetings. Use these five tips, and your meetings will be an asset, not a waste.