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Meetings: The Key to Successful Projects

Meetings are paramount when it comes to successful projects.

Here are some practical tips for quality projects through quality meetings.

Why are project meetings so important? What are the different types of project meetings? How do you hold a project meeting? How often should you meet? How do you ensure a project meeting will be productive?

These are the kinds of questions we will answer in this article, and our responses are sure to help you manage your future projects.

"The best way to ensure that your project fails is to undermine meetings..."

Meetings are the foundation to a successful project. You cannot have a project without some type of gathering to exchange ideas with project stakeholders.

In fact, we can safely say that the best way to ruin your chance of success is to undermine your meetings: sabotage them, don’t show up to them, make sure that they are counterproductive, frequently cancel or postpone them...and bingo! You have every chance on your side of making the project fail. It's as simple as that. .

Is the way you manage a meeting really as crucial to success as this? Yes! Because, most importantly, PEOPLE are the heart of every project so working together as HUMANS is the backbone.

As with anything, people are the most valuable asset of a project. Not a single venture can be undertaken without the men and women who execute it by discussing, planning, and ultimately delivering the final product. If meetings are few and far between or even poorly organized and unproductive, do not be surprised when the project fails.

In general, meetings are used to mobilize stakeholders and make them committed to the project. These stakeholders belong to various committees involved with the project (ex. coordination committee, executive committee, management committee…) and thus each have their own objectives.

What are the different types of project meetings?

There are generally 4 types of meetings :

Status (or Progress) Update Meetings : These are recurring meetings that measure your team’s progress. The meeting is held with the project’s core team, i.e. the project manager and his or her main collaborators. It could also gather the program manager and the program’s various project managers. These meetings allow the team to review issues, manage risks, and monitor outstanding business and action items. These mobilization and coordination meetings are essential to project management.

Informational Meetings : These meetings are held on an ad hoc basis to share important information either with all project stakeholders or with a limited group of participants. The Kick-Off meeting at the start of the project is a great example of this kind of meeting.

Decision-Making Meetings : These meetings are called from time to time to discuss important issues or concerns. In them, decisions are made so that the project can progress. Typically, these meetings are held with the project executive committee, the sponsor, the decision-makers or other stakeholders.

Workshops : These meetings are scheduled as needed with a clear objective to elaborate on specific technical issues. They are work meetings that can considerably advance the project through solution-finding. They therefore involve experts and should not involve decision-makers.

How do you hold a project meeting?

First of all, every good meeting takes preparation. That means taking the necessary time to make sure a meeting is pertinent. Once that is decided, then determine the meeting’s objectives.

Next, outline the order in which to present these goals (the meeting’s item scheduling) and identify who should attend the meeting.

This prep work results in a draft agenda that should be sent out several days in advance when inviting the participants so that they have time to prepare. An invitation sent ahead of time reduces the risk of an unproductive meeting.

The second step is leading the meeting itself. The agenda is the meeting’s guide; it is the basis for discussions, decision-making, and the choices to be made regarding the action items.

Keeping track of the meeting minutes is absolutely necessary for keeping track of the meeting’s progress, decisions made, and points to be followed up. Once the meeting is over and the exchanges have been transcribed or summarized, you can then move on to the third step: meeting follow-up. For many project teams, this is the weakest point of meetings. It thus deserves special attention if you want to be successful. The minutes must be distributed quickly to the meeting’s attendees, ideally within 72 hours, so that the action items decided on during the meeting can be implemented.

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© Bernache Consulting

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