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Rules for Holding Project Meetings

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Project meetings are very important during completing a project. Here we will discuss what rules we can follow to make the meeting more productive.

1 Two things before a meeting

As a project manager, before holding a project meeting, there are two things that need to be thought of. The first one is “why do we need to hold this meeting?”, and the second one is “who needs to attend the meeting?”

In fact, not knowing why we hold a meeting is the reason why so many project meetings have such low productivity. Sometimes a project team member was just sitting in the office doing some work and suddenly was asked to attend a meeting. But during the meeting he gradually loss patients in the meeting and began to fall asleep. At the end of the meeting, for some reason, the team member was assigned a tricky task without knowing why.

The mentioned scenario is why the meeting holders should think of these two questions before holding a meeting, why does this meeting need to be held? And what problems need to be solved during this meeting? If these two questions had been considered and answered clearly, then the efficiency and productivity of the meeting would be improved significantly.

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Regarding the question of who should attend the meeting, there is a saying in China: “Meeting with too many attendees is not important, the important meeting has not many attendees.” Just think about it, to some degree, you can not argue its rationality. Normally, holding a meeting is to collaboratively solve a problem, but it shouldn’t be asking all the team members and all stakeholders to generate solutions and ideas during the meeting. It should be more like asking the core members and relevant stakeholders to speak out the ideas which had been thought of in their heads before the meeting and to find the best idea or solution based on the core of the problem. That is what a high productivity meeting like. And that is what the meeting is for.

The second thing we should think about is the kind of meetings that allocate project tasks to team members, which is also the kind of meetings that project managers find troublesome. Because in this kind of meeting, the attendees, especially the team members, could not express their own opinions but only to accept the tasks. In this scenario, actually, there is no need for all the team members to attend the meeting, just the relevant department directors or the sub-project leaders are enough. During the meeting, the project manager should reach a consensus with them and let them allocate the project tasks to their own members after the meeting.

2 How to hold a meeting?

The first thing is not to nag during the meeting.

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The purpose of a project meeting is essentially to solve a problem, not for the attendees to listen to the meeting holder’s prattle. People are usually sick of listening to empty talks and hollow words during a meeting. Just make the important points and talk about what needs to be done is enough. In real life, some leaders indeed like to nag on a meeting, some employees call it “brainwashing”. But the fact is that no matter what these leaders say, their employees are already used to it and would not take their leaders’ words seriously. This is the kind of meeting we should not hold.

The second thing is to value the content, not the form.

Some company or some departments likes to use presentation and make the PPT file very flashy. The PPT file maker would not only make the PPT look beautiful but also would make it very long. In order to present a problem, they would list all kinds of information regarding the problem in the PPT file, such as the problem’s source, background, details, and so on. But the essential part is usually missing or too briefly presented in the file. In fact, the fanciness of the PPT is not the critical factor for it to be good. Although a beautiful presentation could add some additional points to your meeting, except for the appearance, the key should be going straight to the point and the things that need to be done.

3 What should we do after a meeting?

What we should concern about after a project meeting is what we call “execute” or “executive force”. There is no executive force of the individual. A single person only has what we call personal ability. Executive force exists only in a team. There is a special type of team that has the highest executive force in the entire world, that is the army. In various types of companies, the bigger the project team, the bigger company, the higher the cost of communications, which would lead to a lower execution. That’s why we need to divide the team into smaller units and assign the responsibilities to individuals and make the one person be responsible for certain tasks. That would be a typical example of a high executive force.

4 Rules for holding meetings

  1. Prepare fully! Think of things like time, location, attendees, materials, schedule, and notice.
  2. To be professional! How does a brainstorming meeting look like? What is the procedure for holding a release meeting?
  3. Must have discipline! What are the rules of attending a meeting? What should we do to the persons who are late? Or leave early? Or play with a cell phone during the meeting?
  4. Must have a theme! A theme helps us to focus on a certain topic and stay on track.
  5. Must have a schedule! What is the procedure and schedule of the meeting? And how long does every step last?
  6. Must have a conclusion! What is the final result of the meeting? Is the conclusion clear enough?
  7. Must monitor and follow the execution after the meeting! How does the execution go?
  8. Every execution must have output! What is the progress of the execution? Who is responsible for certain tasks?
  9. Must have rewards and punishments! Reward the one who has done well and punish the one who has not done enough. The rules have to be agreed upon by all attendees.
  10. All rewards and punishments must be opened! Open, fair, and transparent, that’s what good project management should be.

In summary, this article discusses several important things and rules about how to hold a project meeting.

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