Communication is the cornerstone of success for modern businesses. You need clearly defined PM communication strategies to grow as a team. That’s what makes project management meetings so crucial to get right.
Business projects are a constant interchange of information and updates. There are multiple tasks that need to be accomplished, many of which might be interlinked.
Recognizing this interdependence and understanding how to manage the process is key.
With so many moving parts and people, there’s really only one way to keep a project running smoothly from start to finish: project management meetings.
This article breaks down the different types of project management meetings and how to conquer them with some practical tips.
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Why meetings fail
It takes skill to conduct meetings that achieve the desired results. All too often, these meetings become unbearably ineffective and unpleasant for attendees. Without a plan in place for every meeting, project goals are lost, conversations can take a turn toward tangents, and everyone leaves feeling, well, a little unaccomplished with no clear path forward.
In a survey of 182 managers across a range of industries, 65% said that meetings hinder their work, 71% stated that meetings are unproductive and inefficient, and 62% said they fail to bring the team closer.
If you lead teams, project management meetings could be one of the most powerful weapons in your arsenal.
But, you need to know how to manage them.
The first step is to understand that there are various types of meetings and choosing the right one could be the key to achieving your goals on time.
5 types of project management meetings
1. Project management kickoff meetings
A project kickoff meeting is the first step toward the alignment of project goals.
The purpose of this meeting is to introduce the team, understand the project background, and lay out what needs to be done from start to finish.
The kickoff meeting helps to establish project goals and understand how team members will work together to achieve them.
These meetings usually take place after contracts have been signed and there is a general consensus on costs, timelines, and statements of work (SoW) with the client or decision-maker.
Every project is unique, but there are some basics you need to cover in order to start on a good note and get everyone on the same page.
I recommend following an agenda like this one to get everyone familiar with each other and the challenge ahead.
Project kickoff meeting agenda template:
- Introductions: Explain why everyone is there and introduce any new team members. (15 mins)
- Review client background, if applicable: If this new project is for a client instead of for an internal project, this is the time to introduce the client, their industry, and their goals. (5 mins)
- Scope of the project: What are we doing and why are we doing it? (25 mins)
- Approach: How will we get this done? (15 mins)
- Roles: Who will do what? How will we work together?(10 mins)
- Next steps: What should be done next and by when? (5 mins)
- Q&A: Answer any questions that are standing in the way of team members getting started on their respective parts. (10 mins)
As a project manager, you should already have a plan for the project kickoff meeting.
You are discussing it with the team only to get their nod on it and provide a context or sense of urgency for what’s coming next. It’s essential that you are confident, motivating, and encouraging.
It’s also helpful to document the meeting, or have meeting notes prepared ahead of time, so you can send them to everyone involved for reference and guidance as the project moves ahead.
2. Project status meetings
Project status meetings keep the pace of the project.
Regular status meetings not only keep people informed, but they also hold each role accountable for completing their part.
Try to keep to a fixed agenda and timeline with this meeting, and systematically follow it to keep the team engaged and participating throughout.
Tangents make these meetings inefficient and unsuccessful.
Project status meeting agenda template:
- Review project schedule status: Take time to acknowledge accomplishments and discuss what’s pending. Make sure the team understands the impact of delays and opportunities. (15 mins)
- Project scope status: Provide visibility into activities and events in the upcoming days and weeks. Give a quick run-through on pending action items. Discuss upcoming project milestones. (5 mins)
- Review the budget: Discuss how much has been spent compared with the original plan. (5 mins)
- Risk assessment: Invite team members to express concerns and raise issues, and get their input if they are finding certain things difficult to accomplish. (5-10 mins)
- Follow-up discussions: Identify points where a follow-up discussion is needed. Schedule separate meetings for those or delegate responsibility to someone to take the issue forward. (After the meeting)
- Monday mornings are full of productive energy, and Friday afternoons are full of weekend daydreaming, which makes these times not ideal for conducting these (or any) meetings.
- Tuesdays around 2:30 pm is the most ideal time to meet with your team, as it’s still early in the week and falls at a time of day where people are still focused and productive. I can’t prove it, but there may be a special place in hell for project managers who schedule Friday afternoon meetings.
- Make sure everyone is engaged. If someone is not participating, encourage them to speak by asking questions. Over 39% of people doze off during meetings, while 91% admit to daydreaming. Engagement could keep these hurdles at bay.
3. Agile Scrum meetings
An Agile framework, called Scrum, has become a popular method for managing projects.
This framework helps teams deliver value at short intervals.
Fixed time iterations, called sprints, last 1-4 weeks. The purpose of Scrum meetings is to set yourself and your team up for the work ahead.
Scrum has roles, responsibilities, and meetings that are never changed.
- Product Owner
The PO is responsible for prioritizing and streamlining the Team Backlog (the list of tasks or projects yet to be started) and the execution of program priorities while maintaining the conceptual and technical integrity of the Features or components for the team.
- Scrum Master
The Scrum Master runs Agile meetings. They ensure the agenda is being followed, and priorities and information are being exchanged between participants to maximize time, flow, and engagement. Outside of meetings, the Scrum Master clears roadblocks and keeps the team focused by responding to anything that comes up.
- Scrum team
The Scrum team is, well, everyone on the team. It’s everyone working toward the successful completion of any given product, and it’s pretty much everyone in these meetings.
There are four obligatory components, also known as Agile Scrum ceremonies.
Before getting on to them, let’s understand the template for this Agile project management meeting.
Stand-up meeting agenda template: Spend 1-2 minutes per person
- Blockers: Is anything preventing contributors from getting work done? This includes technical limitations, personal setbacks, and departmental and team interdependencies.
- What did you do yesterday: Quick rundown on what tasks were accomplished the previous day, and what didn’t get done, and why?
- What are your goals for today: How will each team member be made accountable for the next day’s Scrum meeting?
- How close is the team to hitting the sprint goals: What are contributors feeling about the pace of the sprint?
- Try to hold them at the same time every day, and don’t be late!
- Keep the technology for the meeting consistent. There are plenty of Slack apps, bots, and tools like Flow, SoapBox, and Pocket that can help.
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Now, it’s important to understand the components of Scrum meetings, since each of them holds incredible value for teams.
- Sprint planning: Sprint planning meetings give the Scrum Master a sense of who’s doing what. These meetings help provide perspective on the existing timeline and clarification on what is pending.
- Daily Scrum or stand-up: The product owner and stakeholders participate in this meeting to answer questions raised by the team. Everyone is kept on the same page. For an Agile daily Scrum, we recommend following the agenda suggested above.
- Sprint/iteration review: How much work has the team accomplished in the last sprint? This session takes 1-2 hours, where stakeholders can give necessary feedback on the sprint demo. After the team gives a demo of work progress, it receives feedback from stakeholders.
- Sprint retrospective meeting: These are meetings to determine what went well and what didn’t throughout the sprint, so that the next sprint can be improved.
4. Stakeholder meetings
These meetings are usually for the most influential stakeholders, such as shareholders, partners, or senior leadership.
A well-organized meeting is key to making a positive impression. Winning their attention and support are important factors in your project’s success and any future funding.
Here are some tips to conduct effective stakeholder meetings:
- Identify the appropriate stakeholders: High-touch communication can be reserved for top management while others can be informed through emails.
- Stick to the agenda: Determine what issues you will be talking about and how you will present them. Create an agenda covering each portion of the meeting. Be clear about the list of questions you might want to ask and discussion topics that will facilitate feedback from the stakeholders.
- Present project updates: Anticipate questions. Have all relevant metrics and documents handy to show the progress of the project. Determine what information you want them to have before the meeting begins.
- Seek feedback: Fully engage with the stakeholders and listen to their inputs or concerns.
- Follow the agenda and stay within the schedule. These meetings tend to digress from vital points.
- Send a copy of the minutes to participants for follow-up. Encourage them to contact you and resolve any queries.
- Use efficient technology to increase engagement. Today’s presentations are way beyond PowerPoint. Use Learning Management System (LMS) tools that can allow them to graph information in real time or see visual content as they go.
Leading a remote team? Check out our helpful article on how to be as effective as possible.
5. Project review meetings
At the end of each project, you can engage with your team members by reviewing how the work unfolded. This gives insights into the strengths and weaknesses of the team, and helps you plan better in the future.
Project review meeting agenda:
- Reiterate the objective: Reiterate the goals you and your team were working on, the duration of the project, and other details. (2 mins)
- Round table project update: Focus on each team member. What they found difficult, and what was the high point of the project. (15 mins)
- Focus on roadblocks and risks: This is to find out where the company stands on future projects. Focus on how to solve existing problems. (15 mins)
- Major milestones: Celebrate accomplishments with the team. Applaud people who did exceptional work. (5 mins)
- Budget: Let the team know how much of the budget was utilized or whether any additional procurement was required. It’s important for the team to understand the importance of meeting targets within a designated budget. (5 mins)
- Don’t be afraid to reward your team. Whether it’s coffee and donuts or a team lunch, it’s essential to recognize good work.
Set up every project for success with the right project management meeting
Whether you enjoy them or they’re the bane of your workweek, meetings aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Knowing this, meetings need to be optimized since time is precious and everyone is bound to tight schedules.
By choosing the right type of meeting to hold and sticking to an agenda, your team will feel more productive instead of feeling like they’re wasting their time. Ensuring meetings aren’t something your team dreads is another milestone in the career of a project manager.
Streamlined Agile project management tools can help you achieve such a feat easily. Keep projects moving with automated workflows, Stand-ups, Sprints, and tracking tools to help save time and promote engagement throughout every phase of a project.
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