Team meetings are a standard part of the workday when you work in business. As a project manager, it’s up to you to ensure these meetings are productive. How do you run a highly effective meeting? Keep the following information in mind to make the most of your meetings.

What Is Project Management?

Project management involves planning and carrying out projects to achieve your company's goals. A big part of this process is having regular team meetings in the planning and execution stages. These are essential to ensuring your team stays focused and makes progress toward completing projects.

Conducting Effective Meetings

What is the key to a productive meeting? Your meetings should be effective at moving your team closer to their goals and clarifying issues they need addressed. Whether it's a routine meeting with a recap or a strategic meeting for problem-solving, use these tips to help you run it effectively.

1. Prepare for Meetings in Advance

One of the most important tips for running an effective meeting is planning. Impromptu or unscheduled meetings are unlikely to be productive, especially if you haven’t had a chance to organize an agenda. When you determine the date and time for a meeting, send an email to all team members so they know when it is and what you'll cover. An agenda helps you and your team stay focused during meetings. Your agenda should include key points to discuss or steps and tasks that need to be done as part of the planning or execution process. An example of that might be brainstorming ideas for an upcoming project. The overall goal of your agenda should be to move your team closer to achieving project goals. Make sure each team member has a copy of the agenda before the meeting, so they can look it over and prepare as needed.

2. Ask Relevant/Important Questions

Getting right to the point and asking relevant questions saves valuable meeting time. Your questions should help you get vital information from team members or clarify issues affecting a project. Sticking to relevant questions also keeps team members focused on the agenda rather than straying off-topic.

3. Set a Timer for Meetings

Coming up with a meeting length helps prevent it from running too long or too short. Long meetings can lead to team members becoming distracted, bored, or unfocused. Short meetings might not provide enough time to discuss projects. To make sure your meeting ends on time, set a timer. Knowing that a timer is running helps you track how much longer you have, encouraging you and your team to stay on point.

4. Take Notes

You’re unlikely to remember everything discussed during meetings, so get into the habit of taking notes. Jot down notes as team members make essential points, discuss project completion challenges, or ask questions about relevant topics or issues. You can then refer to these notes as needed to ensure your project stays on schedule or use them to create an agenda for your next meeting.

5. Encourage Feedback

As a project manager, you’re expected to be a good leader. This involves encouraging team members to provide feedback rather than making every decision yourself. Gathering feedback can help you identify potential problems with your project and develop solutions. With feedback, you can also adjust how you run meetings to make them more productive. For example, feedback might show that early morning meetings aren’t as productive as meetings held later in the morning or afternoon.

6. Practice Meeting Courtesy 

An impactful method for running effective meetings is practicing meeting courtesy. But what does that look like? For starters, it’s being respectful of people’s time. If you’re the moderator/organizer of the meeting, be sure to start the meeting on time. And if you’re an attendee be sure to arrive on time. There are a plethora of resources and tools you can use to receive notifications and alarms for when meetings are about to begin.

One goal of every meeting should be to use the allotted time in the most efficient way possible. Another goal is to have strong notes and details to share with attendees after the meeting is complete. Providing a post-meeting follow-up is not only courteous to the attendees, it also helps with running more effective meetings in the workplace.

 7. Limit Small Talk

Small talk can serve as an icebreaker at meetings, but keep it limited. This kind of talk can take place at the start of the meeting to help everyone feel comfortable and get settled in. However, it should only last a few minutes before diving into your agenda. Limiting small talk provides enough of an icebreaker without letting it take up too much of your meeting time. It helps everyone stay focused and prevents meetings from running too long.

8. Make Your Meetings Engaging

Your meetings should offer an atmosphere that encourages team members to participate. Instead of having a meeting where you do most of the talking and tell your team what you expect of them, make it more engaging. Show active listening skills while team members speak, so they know you’re paying attention to what they’re saying. Consider ways to make meetings a joyful experience for team members, such as finding something to celebrate. Having an engaging meeting helps build teamwork and keeps team members interested.

9. Ask Yourself, “Can This Be Handled Over Email?”

Is your meeting even necessary? If something can be covered via email, don’t hold a meeting to discuss it. Unnecessary meetings waste your and your team members’ time, leading to boredom and frustration. Only schedule meetings when you have something that needs to be handled face-to-face (in person or virtually). Doing this helps team members view upcoming meetings as important and necessary.

How to Have Successful Online Meetings

All the time, we're seeing more companies implement or maintain a work-from-home culture. Companies have their employees work either full-time from home or on a hybrid schedule. Because of this trend, employees find themselves in more remote/online meetings. But how do you have successful online meetings? First of all, you will still want to follow the above nine strategies for your meetings. Online or in person, they are still impactful for running effective meetings. For successful online meetings, the following are strategies you can use:

  • Ask for attendees to turn their cameras on.
  • Have the meeting be engaging.
  • Create a strong agenda.
  • Conclude meeting with specific action items.

Project Management Certificate

How can you develop valuable skills to help you run meetings as effectively as possible? The Project Management Certificate program at the University of Minnesota College of Continuing and Professional Studies (U of M CCAPS) offers a convenient way to learn these skills and receive high-quality training. This program includes courses in project risk management, project leadership, and project planning to give you the skills you need as a project manager. You'll enhance your knowledge with electives in technical writing, business acumen, negotiation, and other areas.

Learn More Today

A Project Management Certificate can enhance your ability to run productive meetings. To learn more about the Project Management Certificate, get in touch with U of M CCAPS today.