What’s a Project Meeting & What Should I Know?
There are many different reasons to host a Project Meeting – this makes it difficult to provide a comprehensive definition that encompasses all aspects of the event. Project meetings are used to generate varying results, all relative to achieving a goal shared among colleagues and/or any stakeholders in a project.
Project Meetings should take place after a Kick Off meeting, where the tone and overall goal of the project have already been set. During the Kick Off meeting, you should ensure teams have the necessary materials needed to proceed with the project.
The Main Purposes of a Project Meeting
A Project Meeting is a regular occurrence where any people involved with or who have a vested interest in a project convene to:
- Report on progress
- Propose or generate ideas
- Discuss issues
- Approve or reject ideas
- Solve problems
Project Meetings can be held solely to discuss one of these reasons, or for several. You should only utilise a meeting when there are no other practical means of achieving your aims. If you are simply sharing information, consider using a group email. Check out our blog on when to host a remote meeting, and when to not!
The reason behind a Project Meeting is to generate group consensus that will accelerate the project’s progress under any set goals or expected results. In this light, Project Meetings can also encourage a sense of team or community among colleagues which improves communication.
Because of the varying reasons for hosting a Project Meeting, the format of the meeting also changes depending on the desired outcome. In generating your format, we suggest you:
- Focus on the objective – Spend some time considering the purpose of the meeting and the desired outcomes.
- Discuss it with your team – When sending the invitation, ask them if they have any ideas, issues or concerns they would like addressed.
- Translate ideas into an agenda – Design a productive plan for achieving your objectives.
- Share the agenda – Ensure that everyone who will attend the meeting has a copy of the agenda before the meeting starts.
It’s paramount to share the agenda with your colleagues. When everyone is aware of the order of proceedings, there’s more engagement in the meeting.
Generating engagement during a project meeting is vital to the meeting’s success. If your meeting does not require collaborative engagement, then you should not have called a meeting in the first place. It’s also worth remembering that the actual work on the project should not be undertaken during the meeting. The manner in which your team engage with the meeting should be agreed upon prior to the meeting, ideally during the Kick Off meeting. Here are some tips for guiding discussions in your meeting:
- Encourage equal participation – Make a habit of asking everyone for their thoughts and opinions on topics. Discourage people speaking out of turn.
- Discuss consequences – Ask your team about the potential risks and problems that may occur on any idea raised.
- Seek harmony – Try to look for consensus with your team on the next action to be taken. Not everyone will be as enthusiastic about every idea that’s been raised, so find a common denominator that everyone can make peace with.
- “Putting it on ice” – A member of your team may take a discussion somewhere that isn’t entirely relevant to the objective of your meeting but may still remain relevant to the overall goal of the project itself. If this does occur, it’s best to interrupt the person and remind them that their point is not entirely relevant to the goal of this particular meeting but you will put their idea “on ice” until a later time or meeting. Make note of the idea and move on with your set agenda.
When problem-solving or idea generating, there is a multitude of ideation devices that can be utilised during a meeting to achieve the best results. It can be difficult to choose the right exercise for you and your team and a lot of trial and error is required. Here are some exercises we’ve found useful in the past that work well in a project meeting:
- Brainstorming – Brainstorming is ideal for problem-solving and allows for maximum interaction and engagement among your attendees. Take all views on board, there are no wrong answers in a brainstorm. Use sparingly, over-reliance on brainstorming will end up with a brainstorm session on what to brainstorm next.
- Brainwriting – If your brainstorming session isn’t generating the level of engagement you require, brainwriting is a great alternative. The project leader pitches the ‘problem statement’ while handing out a sheet with the problem statement displayed at the top. In silence, each attendee writes 3 solutions or ideas to the problem statement. After 5 minutes of this, everyone passes their sheet to the left. Everyone then writes 3 more ideas inspired by those already on the sheet. After several rounds, you should be left with dozens, possibly hundreds of ideas and solutions.
- Time-Boxing – If your team cannot reach a decision on a certain topic or is struggling to generate any solutions or ideas, declare that they have a certain amount of time to reach a conclusion or else you will park the idea and move on with the agenda. If this occurs, ask your team what they believe they need in order to reach a conclusion, make note of this and take action on it at a later time. –
- Best Worst Ideas – By asking your attendees for the worst possible solutions to your problem, you can help remove any lingering self-consciousness they may be harbouring. It’s a lot easier to come up with a bad idea than a good one, so you should generate plenty. Discuss these bad ideas, what could you do to make them good ideas?
Be sure to check out our standalone blog on producing effective, engaging meetings for a detailed approach to getting the most out of your team.
Many companies still maintain that 9 AM Monday morning is the best time for a meeting. With this time, we’re left with ample time to complete any tasks set during the Project Meeting over the course of the coming week. Research is now starting to suggest that 9 AM is not the optimum time.
The issue with 9 AMs is that employees will have little time prior to the meeting to prepare. They’ll either have to prepare the evening prior or get in even earlier to prepare. Mondays are also too close to the weekend. There have been two days where your team hasn’t been engaging with their work, they’ll undoubtedly be slow getting off the mark.
Research from YouCanBookMe, a UK company that makes scheduling apps for businesses, suggests that Tuesday afternoon is the best time for a meeting. With Tuesday afternoon, there is time left in the week to take action on any decisions made. Your team should also still be fresh from the weekend and not too tired. Try aim for the 3PM slot as employees can be lethargic after their lunch hour, so it’s best to avoid scheduling your meeting at exactly 2 PM.
Consider the employees attending your meeting, if your team consists of many young people (under 25) it would be best to host your meeting on Tuesday afternoon. If your team is a little older, it’s better to utilise the 10 AM time-slot. To understand your team dynamics, check out our blog on the psychology of meetings.
Ideally, you should invite all those involved in the project to the meeting but this is not always the case.
- Aim for the smallest amount of people possible that can still achieve the desired outcome of the meeting.
- Inform them why you’re asking them to attend. Your team will feel secure and confident in the knowledge they belong, they’re more inclined to participate in deeper engagement.
- When junior colleagues attend your meeting, they may feel intimidated when someone of a higher social status is making decisions. This is why selecting your attendees with due diligence and informing them why they’re there is vital to a successful Project Meeting.
- Inform your team that they do not have to attend the meeting just because they’ve been invited. People often complain about the amount of meetings they have to attend, but to be seen in meetings is still viewed as a status symbol.
Those in mid-level positions may feel unrecognised if they are not invited to each meeting. Some people will feel the need to attend every meeting they’re invited to, just to demonstrate how important they are.
Remote Meeting Tool
Ensure that those who are particularly relevant to your Project Meeting are invited. If they cannot physically attend the meeting, it’s best to utilise a remote meeting tool like virtual meetings or conference calls. Check out our very own conference call solutions here.