Although you might sigh at the seeming frequency of business meetings, they are a necessary part of being a good project manager. When effective, they get over information you want to your team, you get feedback from them on what's happening, and problems are discussed and overcome. Is it that easy?
I think we all feel like we have to attend too many meetings from time to time, and as a project manager you are definitely subject to more than your fair share. In this guide we take a look at every aspect of turning your meetings into better business meetings. How often are meetings really necessary? How can you get more from your team and keep them feeling in a relaxed environment where they are more likely to share? We answer these questions here as well as the practical stuff like planning and meeting agendas, recording minutes and making sure action points are followed through.
We also address how to run the meetings you have more effectively, overcome problem members, and use appropriate etiquette whether it's in the office, on a virtual meeting, or a meeting with cultural differences.
Get it Right
First things first, get the meeting off on the right foot. Make sure you aren't holding more meetings than are completely necessary otherwise they start to become less effective, and indeed even the type of business meeting you choose to hold can make the world of difference to the outcome. We also take a good look here at appropriate business meeting etiquette so as not to offend anyone and keep the meeting right on track.
Lay Down the Law - Set Some Ground Rules & Deal With Problems
Of course meetings don't always go as plan, but if you set down some rules to begin with, your team will know what is expected of them -- it can also help to move things along more quickly and prevent you all getting bogged down in too much unnecessary detail. Follow some of our golden rules for handling business meetings and make sure you know how to deal with any disruptive behavior in meetings to stop things spiraling out of control.
Stay on Track - Planning & Agendas
Perhaps the best way of making sure you get out of the meeting what you want, is to make it clear from the beginning what you expect from others. Make sure you confirm the time in a way that people will remember and then use some of our planning tips and free agenda templates to lay out what subject matter you will be covering in the meeting. There are many different kinds of meeting agenda formats so choose carefully to avoid confusion and make sure you stick to the agenda once confirmed.
Online Meetings & Video Conferencing
As a project manager it's likely that at some point or another all your team members won't be in one place for a meeting, no matter how early you make them aware of a particular date -- online and virtual meetings are commonplace. Look on this as a positive thing as it means more people will be able to attend than would otherwise have been possible. Of course these types of meetings have their own set of rules, etiquette and problems, so make sure you are clued up with our tips and tools below.
Make it Memorable, Make it Effective
Here's some good news for you -- meetings don't have to be boring! In fact they are more productive when there is an element of fun involved as well as making you sigh a lot less about the number you have to attend. Even more good news -- it's in your power to make them memorable events! Icebreakers for various different scenarios are covered here from your standard meeting to a meeting with a small group, and even ideas for conference calls. Don't forget to include other dimensions to the proceedings too such as the best meeting foods and some funny cartoons to make people laugh and relax.
Tips & Tools for Managing Meetings
Managing and running an effective business meeting is somewhat of a skill, so we've collected together some awesome tools and tips to help you become better at doing just that. It will help you all to become more productive and you'll feel more in control should you be part of a difficult meeting.
Avoid Cultural Faux Pas
There are times when you might not feel in control or comfortable in a particular meeting because you are nervous about making any faux pas -- this is particularly true with cultural differences. In this section we've rounded up a great selection of articles on the business etiquette and culture in particular countries as well as a general look at cultural differences in business. Our last couple of articles in this section build on from there by looking at how to improve business communications and relationships across cultures.
What Happened? Keep Top Notch Minutes
You can get so involved when holding a meeting that when it's all over it's easy to forget everything that was discussed and what tasks were given to whom. It may seem an old-fashioned idea but keeping minutes at a meeting is a really good way of clarifying what happened as well as any action that needs to be taken. We offer some tips on taking and writing up meeting minutes as well as some helpful templates.
So now the meeting is done and the meetings are written up, what's next? Don't lose sight of the purpose of the meeting and make sure you have assigned tasks to the appropriate people, set up action items and make sure they are done. Use some easy methods to do this such as tracking who is doing what in Excel or make use of some templates to track action items.
And you thought meetings were easy! Just make sure that the right tone is set from the start and that you remain in control. Make people feel comfortable enough to share but leave them in no doubt that you are the one running the show. If you think we've missed anything out of our effective meetings guide then please leave a comment below.