Making the Most of Your Meetings

At the heart of project management, there is one thing we either love or dread: meetings. Whether you work in a bustling office environment or from the quiet of a home office, staying in touch with teammates is essential for keeping any project on track. But experts across the board agree that time spent in unproductive meetings are eating away at our core productivity time, and can lead to missed deadlines and frustrated teams. So, what can we do as team leaders to ensure that time spent together is time well spent? Changing up your meeting habits may be the best thing you can do to take your meetings from pointless to priceless. At PDUs2Go, we suggest the following:

  1. Learn from the scouts: The scout motto is ‘always be prepared’. If you aren’t armed with an agenda, you’re much more likely to veer off track and leave the meeting with more problem than solution. Take some time prior to joining the group to create a short rundown, outlining exactly what you want to get out of the meeting. Bring a copy for each team member so they can know exactly what is expected from the time you are spending together.
  2. Find your sweet spot: Do you try to grab everyone’s attention at 9:00 every Monday morning or 4 pm on Friday? Chances are, your teammates might not be 100% focused at those times. In fact, science suggests that 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday is the single best time to schedule a meeting. Not too early and not too late (in both the day and the week) midafternoon and mid-week meetings might just be the ideal time to meet. Find the time that works best for your team, and stick to a consistent schedule.
  3. Quality not quantity: Meetings don’t have to run out the clock. In fact, evidence suggests that the longer the meeting goes, the less engaged people are. Consider a standing meeting for anything that requires short, pre-arranged updates. Standing meetings are purposefully aimed at keeping the meeting short (15 min traditionally) so people can go back to their seats.
  4. Be exclusive: Does your entire team have to attend a meeting that could be handled just by the software engineers? Sometimes inviting extra people opens the door to scope creep and off-agenda conversation. Invite individuals who will provide some useful insight, but feel free to pare down the guest list if it is interfering with staying on task.
  5. Add up the cost: The true cost of a meeting is often overlooked. Because meetings are traditionally considered essential, management tends to forget that those resources are being diverted from productivity. If your senior leadership or chief development people spend half their weeks in meetings well… think of how much of your project budget is being diverted to something other than production.
  6. Learn from the millennials: Could you have just sent a text? Instead of gathering up the troops to go over something, would a note in your project management software or a quick email have done the job? We don’t want to replace all of our team communication with electronic messages, but ask yourself if some of your discussions could be more efficiently handled.

These 6 tips were designed to help you keep your meetings on track, while preserving the valuable team input a meeting provides. While not all of these tips might apply to your situation, consider implementing some that would help maximize your productivity while minimizing your time commitment.

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