How to Run Team Meetings
Great four great tips for improving how you run team meetings…
Hello, I’m Jennifer Whitt, Director at ProjectManager.com.
Nothing gives me a worse headache then a bad meeting. We’ve all been there. We’ve all seen the scenarios. You’ve got that one who’s always going to speak up to derail your meeting. You’ve been in those meetings where no one knows why they are there, what they’re doing there, and why that person is there.
We’ve all seen all different scenarios. Even interviewing CEOs of some of the top companies, one of the biggest complaints is poor meetings. People not knowing why they’re there and leaving without knowing why was they were there and what’s to be done next. I’ve got four tips that are key elements to running a meeting that a project manager can use that are simple. Remember, simplicity helps to go a long way.
For those of you who like methodology, consider this the PCFW method of running your meeting. What does that stand for? Prepare, Communicate, Facilitate, and by all means, Wrap It Up.
Let’s talk about each of the four key elements. Number one, in preparation there’s purpose and preparing for the purpose of the meeting. Why are you having this meeting, who needs to be there, why do they need to be there, what did they need to prepare beforehand, what do you as the project manager need to prepare beforehand?
Purpose. Again, knowing who’s suppose to be there, why they are there, are they decision-makers, are they there to provide input, why you need them there. And then props. How are you going to facilitate and run your meeting? Do you need props, do you need a laptop, do you need an LCD projector, do you need flip charts, do you need boards, markers, do you need pens and paper? What do you need for people to use and for you to facilitate the meeting? Have you ever shown up at a site and you didn’t have the materials you needed or thought were supposed to be there? You as a project manager can prepare that.
The second key element, Communicate, is communicating to people beforehand. Inviting them to the meeting, the agenda, letting them know when they’re supposed to be there, why they’re supposed to be there and five minutes beforehand. Let people know in advance so they know and can prepare on their schedule, being mindful that other people have schedules, too, so letting people know in advance so that they can beforehand prepare, get together what they need to show up, and maybe ask any questions. Maybe contact you or other members on the team before. So let them know what’s on the agenda. What are we going to be talking about? They might to want to invite some other people as well and give you an opportunity to say, “Yeah, that’s great, but we don’t really want them to be there in this meeting.”
Action items. Making sure people have completed action items, maybe before a previous meeting, preparing for and completing action items they were supposed to do prior. Before they show up to the meeting, make sure that the previous actions items had been completed, or at least know the status.
Facilitating the meeting. We’ve all seen that one where the thing gets out of control, it’s supposed to be maybe a 20 or 30 minute status meeting or a short call or a stand-up meeting, that turns into a two-hour brawl. We don’t want that. We want to make sure everything’s on time and on topic. On time is making sure that we really stick to the timeline of the meeting. If you have different items on the agenda, knowing how long you’re going to spend on that and you, as a project manager, actually facilitating that you stay within that time. That way people will stay engaged with you, you won’t lose credibility, and people will know when to expect to leave the meeting. On topic. Staying on topic to the agenda. There are other people who have other agendas who will try to take over and hijack your meeting for their own purposes, so you have to facilitate that and stay on topic. If someone brings up a topic that’s not on your agenda, it may be important but it may not be within the purpose of that meeting. It’s important to put that on a parking lot and at the end let people know what’s going to be done with that item.
And I love this one: “Hold that thought,” because a lot of times people will maybe raise their hand or bring up a question on something that you’re going to cover later in the meeting. Just politely say, “I appreciate that. Hold that thought. We’re going to talk about that later.” That way gives the person the comfort level to know, “Okay. That item is going to be handled in this meeting.” They’ll know it’s going to be handled later and you can stay on time and on topic.
Last, but not least, Wrap Up. We’ve all been in those meetings that have gone too long, so everyone’s just in a hurry to get out of there so they leave not know exactly what to do or what the next steps are. The important item in this step is to wrap up with action items and next steps. What items are to be left done at the end, who’s supposed to do it, when they are supposed to complete it. Then, then knowing next steps. Letting people know when you will be meeting again or what decisions will have to be made.
These are the four key elements of the PCFW method and how to run your meetings more effectively so maybe you won’t leave with a headache and your team members won’t, either.
I hope you found these valuable, and if you need any additional tips, tools or techniques in running your meetings, come by and visit us at ProjectManager.com.