Project Meeting, Steering Committee, Kick-off: What’s the Difference?

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Effective meetings respect and value the participants’ time by following a clear format. Part of running efficient meetings is understanding the core purpose of bringing the group of people together, and sticking to the structure of the chosen meeting. This is the most productive way for you and your employees to communicate. The meeting space is where you solve problems, share crucial project information, resolve conflicts, assign tasks, build teamwork, improve overall performance, etc. It is the hub that drives action in the workplace.

You also have meetings with suppliers as well as customers. At other times you will meet with business partners and board members –each group requiring a different approach. Here is our “meeting thesaurus” that outlines some of the different types of meetings you will encounter and the goals associated with each one.

1. Project Meetings: One Specific Task, Many Departments

You could be involved in the development of a new product or business process or reorganization of the company structure. This team will come together around this clear goal at various stages of the task’s journey from planning to progress meetings. Under this banner, you could also engage in brainstorming sessions, product design meetings and project review.


2. Kick-Off Meeting: The First Get Together

This is the first meeting for a new project. The project team meets with a client once the contract has been signed and the scope of work has been defined. The team is introduced, timelines confirmed, tasks outlined, status meeting dates confirmed and a general show of enthusiasm is displayed. This Kick-Off meeting will set the tone for the entire project, and so it must be executed with efficiency and precision. You want the sponsor or client to feel that they have entrusted their project to the best possible team available.


3. Steering Committee Meetings: Strategic Direction & Project Manager Support

This meeting comprises senior managers who have the authority to take strategic decisions. They come together to decide how the company’s assets will be applied to the given project.

All of these meetings above can, of course, be conducted as a virtual meeting. Some will be more successful in the form of an audio conference call, others will benefit from a web or video conference call.


4. Decision Making: Evaluating Options, Ranking Solutions and Casting Votes

Businesses evolve by small groups taking next step decisions in meetings. Whatever decision needs to be made, attendees must be properly briefed beforehand on what they will be voting/deciding on in the meeting. There can be a series of meetings that culminate in the final decision. These meetings can include information gathering sessions, brainstorming ideas, interrogating each option, ranking each possible solution and finally making the group decision.


5. Status Update Meetings: Progress, Obstacles and Next Steps

This is possibly the most common of all the meeting types. The goals of this meeting are to look at a project/task progress to date and determine if there are any challenges that need to be overcome and future steps that need to be assigned. Teams will be asked to engage in problem-solving activities, task prioritisation and decision making.


6. Earnings Meeting: Periodic Reports on a Public Company’s Financials

The purpose of an earnings conference call is to unpack details of a public company’s already released financial statements (quarterly or annual). The investment community wants to be able to hear the CEO and CFO discuss information pertaining to the operational and financial results. The panellists will also be expected to discuss predictions for future performance.


7. Information Sharing: Memorable Visual Communication

While information sharing doesn’t always have to include visual aids, it is more the norm than the exception. We’re talking about lectures, keynote addresses, panel discussions, peer debates, presentations, etc. You are providing in-depth knowledge on a pertinent topic. Speakers will share this information by using PowerPoint slides and video to explain the specs of new products, changes impacting the running of the business or new techniques to support business growth. Also, this type of meeting can appear to be a one-sided lecture, but this does not have to be the case. Speakers can include interactive elements to get participants to contribute.

8. Staff Meetings: Department Specific Updates & Individual Assessments

These meetings can take many forms:
• Departmental project updates
• Policy change announcements
• Performance review one-on-one meetings
• Training assessment requirement meetings
• Appraisals and salary review
• Disciplinary procedure sessions

9. Problem Solving: Overcoming Challenges & Creating Strategies

Your team could be floundering because they are facing an issue that has stalled their work. This type of meeting is integral to finding positive, constructive compromise and the first challenge will be to identify the actual problem. These meetings can get strained, and tensions can run high. Therefore, it is wise to have a good meeting leader who can listen to everyone and create calm through conflict resolution.

10. Brainstorming: Inspiring Innovation

These meetings are all about inspiring the team’s imaginations to contribute fresh ideas for the business. It is all about creating an atmosphere of collaboration to get people to share their innovative thinking. Once you have a list of awesome possibilities, you can rank them to narrow down which will be actioned.

11. Team Building: Strengthen Relationships & Company Culture

These can include activities that help employees to feel a positive connection to their department, unit, team, etc. The goal is to engage in team building activities that prioritise collaboration.

12. Sales Meetings: Setting Objectives & Sharing Success Stories

What aspect of sales will you be tackling? Short term objectives? Sales reports? Negotiation skills? New technology? Make a clear choice and start the meeting where the teams share their good sales news headlines. Dole out heaps of recognition and praise for a job well done. Meetings should always conclude with a sales strategy full of activity goals.

13. Emergency Meetings: Keep Calm & Communicate

When a company has to inform the entire workforce about major changes that are underway, an emergency meeting may be called. These meetings can also occur if there is an imminent threat or the need to deal with a disaster that has already occurred. The goal is to allay people’s anxieties and stop rumour mongering in its tracks. Open, honest communication is the key goal.


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