Planning Project Meetings
Written by Jane Ogilvie
There is no magic formula to guarantee each project meeting is a success. When planning a meeting it’s useful to think about some key points.
Venue/location is important:
- Is it easy to access, and well served by public transport?
- Are the facilities adequate, eg, room size, presentation facilities, availability of refreshments and food etc.?
To travel to a meeting, people will need enough time and funds. Does your meeting need to be face to face, or could it be by videoconferencing or by teleconference instead?
If the meeting is being held by video or teleconference, consider IT/internet/mobile connectivity requirements. Some people may be in different time zones, and there may even be more than 2 different time zones to accommodate. Try to plan your meetings so they meet the needs of your team.
Some projects hold regular meetings, some hold meetings on demand, others do both. Think about the needs of the project, the activities to report and discuss, and the decisions to be made. Perhaps a monthly TC and a face to face meeting twice a year will meet requirements in Year 1 of the project, but in Year 2, a quarterly TC may be all that is required.
Decide whose involvement is essential for the meeting and ensure it is held at a time that they are available. If critical team members can’t attend in person, see if they might join by video or teleconference.
If your meeting is internal, you may already share calendars and know when your colleagues are available. Setting up meetings between a number of different organisations is not so easy and can take a large amount of time. There are a number of free online tools that you can use to establish availabilities. Once you have identified a time and a date, you must stick to it, everyone has a busy schedule and it is important to respect this.
Define the meeting duration and allocate enough time for each agenda item in advance. Knowledge of the meeting content will help your team to understand why their attendance is required, for example, they may be expected to lead some of the discussions or provide vital input to specific items. Everyone must know what to expect and, if necessary, should be allowed sufficient time to prepare before the meeting. It is worth checking that all participants will be able to attend the whole meeting – if not, the agenda can be shaped around individual availabilities.
Sticking to the agenda during the meeting is critical, don’t allow your meeting to be hijacked by items that are not important, take these matters aside for later discussion.
5. Minutes and Actions
Minutes provide a record of what happened at a meeting. Share a draft version with participants before they are finalised, to ensure all details were captured accurately. When inviting input, do remember that minutes are a record of a meeting. Minutes should not include events or discussions that did not take place at the meeting itself (this is a very common misunderstanding).
To maintain momentum, minutes should be finalised as soon as possible after a meeting. This will allow actions to be visible by everyone. Actions are one of the most important parts of the minutes, each action should have an action owner and a deadline for the action.
One of the activities of our Project Management Team at Euram is to support project meetings. If your project would like help or guidance with this, please contact the Euram team at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be happy to help!