All Project Managers are familiar with the triple constraint of time, cost and quality/scope. Recently, while I was waiting for a meeting to start, I began calculating the cost of man hours in the room of the staff waiting. Then, when the meeting finally started, it was disorganized and ran over time! I thought to myself, wow, if we can’t run an effective meeting that meets the triple constraint, how will we get our projects completed on time? Here are a few tips for running effective meetings.
● Start on time: Don’t wait for people who show up late, people show up late because they know the meeting will start late and it becomes a death spiral. Never wait.
● Stand for informal meetings: Going around the room works very well for agile, but often does not work well for other organizations. If you want your meeting to be a scrum, huddle, stand-up, etc. make people stand-up. They will stay more focused and talk less.
● Agenda: If your meeting is not informal, like an in-progress review or milestone report have an agenda. This is a tried and true method to keep people on track.
● Keep Time: Either the meeting organizer or another person should be assigned to watch the clock and limit the amount of conversation on certain topics. If a topic is going on too long it needs to be tabled for another time.
● Close on Time: There is nothing worse than being in a meeting that doesn’t close on time and being late for your next meeting. I am a firm believer in closing meetings five minute prior to the close to allow people to get to their next meeting and clear out of the conference room so the next group can start on time.
Project Meetings are a necessary communications tool and can be very effective when managed properly. Think of your project meeting as a mini-project! Each have a definite start and end, offer something unique and fall under the triple constraint. Manage your meetings like you would a project and you and your project team will be more productive.
(Note: The meeting described above was of course not hosted by my current employer)