6 Different Types of Meetings Project Managers Need to Master
17 October 2021
Are you a project manager and worried about an upcoming meeting? Not sure if you are running the meetings as well as you could? Then read on. As a project manager, you will have a range of meeting types that you need to handle well. We discuss these different types of meetings and provide a range of tips to master them.
These types of business meetings each have some specific tips, as they will have a different focus and participants, and will take place at varying periods of the project journey. However, some tips are universal, and are worth considering always before any type of project meeting.
Bear in mind that these meetings may be online or offline, depending on your work. Our advice is applicable whether you are working remotely, in a hybrid system, or in an office environment. We consider project kick off meetings, project status meetings, stakeholder meetings, change control meetings, end project meetings and brainstorming meetings, so you are covered for all types of virtual meetings and offline meetings!
Project Kickoff Meeting
A good start is an essential foundation for any project. We start with the first meeting you will have in a project in the list of project manager meetings, the kick-off meeting. This should establish how the team will work, how often you will communicate and how, the goals along the journey, the scope of the project, and any expected difficulties. This should involve the team members and also potentially the client.
How do you nail these meetings? Here are our tips:
Have it soon as possible
This shouldn’t be late in the project’s journey, as it gets the ball rolling and establishes the nature of the project and how the team interacts. If It’s too late, some bad practices on behalf of the team, or unreasonable expectations from the client, may already be established. Get it as soon as possible after the project is green lit.
Every member of the team should be introduced and everyone familiar with each other. This helps foster team productivity and wellbeing, and makes it easier for communication to take place between team members.
Establish the goals and big picture
This is important to focus the team on what the long-term goals are and what to aim towards. Without this, the project will be directionless.
Cover the details
There are various small things you need to cover. Which tools will you communicate via? What dates are the deadlines? What challenges will you face, and how can you deal with them? When will be the next meeting? These are all vital for the team to know everything they need to get started on the project. Don’t ignore anything that may be useful, no one should be in the dark after this meeting on what they need to do and how to do it.
Project Status Meeting
This type of project team meeting is a regular meeting to check in on how the project is going. The project status meeting is a good space to address any difficulties that can slow the project down, make any changes to work more efficiently, and give the team a chance to communicate together. Here’s what you should do to have more productive project status meetings:
Have a good meeting agenda
The meeting should cover some key topics, such as:
Project schedule (are you on track to finish on time?)
Project budget (are you under or over budget?)
The scope status (how much is complete?
The challenges and risks (what should you expect soon and how to remedy these challenges?)
How the team is doing, giving them the chance for updating the rest of the team.
Stick to a fixed agenda
Allocating a proper amount of time to each and keeping to this time is essential to cover them all. Be firm with keeping to the time and facilitating a good meeting.
Keep them at regular intervals
It is important to have them regularly enough that nothing is missed, but not too much that the meetings are wasting time. Keeping them at a regular schedule gives the members time to prepare as well.
Take meeting notes
This tip applies actually for all meetings, and useful software such as Notiv makes this considerably easier. Take notes to ensure that all meeting interactions are logged, so that not only members can revisit anything, people who missed the meeting can be filled in, and a record of the meeting is provided. Notiv records, transcribes and summarizes all meetings for easy to understand round ups of meetings with the help of AI.
This is a more nerve wrecking and slightly different type of project management meeting as it’s not just with your colleagues, it’s with external parties. But they are a key type of meeting in business communication and project management. These meeting types will vary depending on who is attending, and what sort of stakeholders you are talking to. Are they shareholders or partnering companies? Regardless, there are some stakeholder meeting tips you should follow to make these daunting, different types of meetings much easier and more productive:
This may seem obvious, and in some sense it is, but being prepared for these types of business meeting is really essential. Be prepared about your company, your project, the people in the room, those who will hear reports about this meeting, and everyone’s needs, is essential for success, and will make the meeting less difficult.
Plan a good agenda beforehand, and do your research on all the relevant topics, so you won’t be stuck for words and effectively communicate.
Also, consider any difficult questions in advance and practice answering them, perhaps to people playing the tough audience.
Know your audience
This has two parts. One, you should know what the stakeholders in the meeting want, so you can try to align in the meeting, to instill a sense of confidence. Know the details of them and any relevant organizations, so you can also ask any questions and tailor your meeting to their requirements.
The second part is to consider those people who may not be in the meeting, but will probably have some decisions to make based on this meeting. Perhaps the stakeholders have bosses to report to, consider who they are and what they want to hear.
Be fully present
You have to engage as much as possible with the stakeholders, to listen and be patient to their concerns, so you can provide proper answers. These meetings may not happen very often, so this good impression is important. Engage with their questions, and if presenting or speaking, try to ensure that you are fully involved and connecting with the audience.
You need to prepare to hear questions and answer them, but be ready to ask questions. Not only is this important to get information that you need from the stakeholders, and to better understand what they expect and want, but also shows your knowledge and engagement as you can demonstrate your research and understanding.
Change Control Meetings
These meetings are for when you need to make some changes to the project. The goal is to establish what changes need to be made, but also what doesn’t need to change, so as not to make things any worse. Here is what you should do to ace these meetings:
Share the agenda
Everyone needs to know in advance what will take place during this meeting. This allows them to prepare, have questions and generally understand what needs to be changed, before even setting foot in or logging on to the meeting.
Assess each change and discuss
You need to provide your feedback on each change that needs to be done, on how it will impact the project, in order to explain why it should be done. Also give the chance to everyone to provide their views on the topic, to ensure that everyone understands, and is content with, the changes.
Create a recommendation
Once the changes are understood, finessed and established, they need approval. Create the pitch to whoever must approve the changes in this meeting, to ensure coordination.
Plan the next steps
Consider what needs to be implemented in order to effectively continue the project, and what all team members need to do regarding these changes.
End Project Meetings
The end of the project is a perfect opportunity to reflect, learn, and improve. This also signals the completion of the project and can help improve team morale and future performances. Here are some good tips to consider, so you can make the best of them:
Establish a set of rules
While you would hope that the team works together and will engage professionally in a meeting, there is still a chance that people may have issues with other members for problems that have been encountered.
Setting ground rules to prevent blaming or direct criticisms is how to avoid this problem, and ask to create suggestions for future improvements in a positive and constructive manner.
Review what was learned
Consider what insights were gained during the project, and allow all members to engage on this topic. This can be useful in future projects to get better results.
Every project will run into some problems. Learn what can be improved to avoid these issues and consider how it was handled.
Ultimately, this shouldn’t be too negative a meeting, it should be a cause for celebration and a chance to feel proud of a job well done. Praise members for their hard work to make sure they are happy after the project and motivated.
Depending on the budget, location of the team, and preferences, arrange some fun activity to do together. This could be going for a meal, having a party, or some online activity if the team is remote, such as a game or quest you can do together, or just a more fun virtual get together.
Brainstorming meetings are a chance to find new and exciting ideas, either for new projects or solutions. The content will vary significantly, and may be at different points in the project journey, nonetheless, these are a few things to consider making them productive as possible:
Have a goal
The joy of a brainstorming session is the creativity and the sense of no bad answers. The technical stuff can wait, and it’s all about ideas. But this does not mean that there shouldn’t be any constraint, as some control will help focus and channel the creativity. Some vague goal isn’t useful, such as “How to make the team work better” rather have something specific “how can we improve our inter-staff communication”.
The facilitator should be ensuring that everyone speaks, properly listens and engages with all ideas, and is generally good at running meetings. While this could be you as a project manager, it may be better suited to someone else who is sociable, knowledgeable and organized, and you can take part yourself in the brainstorming process as you will have a wide range of knowledge of different areas.
Get the right team
There is no use having people at the meeting who aren’t knowledgeable on the topic at hand or not motivated to solve it. Getting the right members in the meeting is a key part of a good session
Have an interesting setting
If you are having this meeting online, the options are a bit more limited. However, if offline, consider going to a novel location away from the usual office to stimulate creativity in the meeting.
Use the right tools
This is particularly important for virtual sessions to make them more fun and engaging. Have interactive apps, like Trello or Google Jamboard, in order for everyone to cooperate in a stimulating manner. Using online tools will foster a more creative setting than just a call.
At the end, summarize the best ideas and share them somewhere for others to see it and review. However, just because the session has ended, doesn’t mean the conversation should. Have a chat on a program like Slack to continue the brainstorming and to develop any ideas, because creativity is something to always encourage.
We hope you now feel more ready for all types of meetings in project management. We gave tips for many meeting types and explained key things to remember about them. Adapt the meetings and agendas appropriately and prepare accordingly, and you will master all these different meetings!
There are many different types of meetings, but there are some universal tips nonetheless. What is essential for all types of business meetings is to record and summarize them, ideally with the help of software, such as Notiv. Creating good agendas, sharing this information in advance, and using online tools for engaging meetings are also universal tips you should follow.
However, also remember that when you have too many meetings, it can be easy to burnout. Read more on how to prevent meeting fatigue and have more productive and efficient meetings, regardless of their meeting type.
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