8 Top Tips to Have Better and Smoother Project Status Meetings
6 August 2021
How often do you and your team get together for a project status meeting? Do they go as smoothly as you want them to? Are you hearing everything you need from your team in meetings, or struggling to get everyone on the same page? Is information being lost once you’ve finished the meeting? Our guide is here to help you achieve the best from project status meetings.
Project status meetings are a very important type of meeting. Their goal is to review progress made so far on the project, update the team on how much progress has been made, any difficulties, what needs to be done, and in addition, give a chance for the team to meet up. Read the following best meeting practices, so you can get the most out of these reviews:
Have meetings only when necessary
“Does this need to be a meeting” is something we should always be asking. No one likes interrupting their work to prepare and attend a meeting, and if the same information can be sent via slack or an email, then it’s absolutely a waste of time.
Here are some questions you should ask before planning a meeting:
Does this review meeting need to happen?
Perhaps it would be better to change it to an email and have a status meeting another time in the future when more progress has been made.
Why are we having it at this time?
Maybe you’re having them too often, or not often enough. Is it on the best day of the week or at the best time?
Why do we need these people?
Who needs to be at the meeting, does everyone need to be there? Get the right people to ensure nothing is lost.
If you answer these questions, you can figure out if the meeting is necessary, and if so, when you should have it and who needs to be there.
Make sure the meetings are generally useful, that the topics at hand are actually needed to be shared in person, and people prepare properly, so they can go into detail that would be lost if it wasn’t a meeting. If you prepare properly for the meeting, you can make sure the meetings are worthwhile. This leads to the next tip.
Set regular meeting
Project status review meetings are vital in project management. While having too many meetings is never good and a constant interruption to workflow may be harmful, it is still important to have these meetings at regular intervals. This way the team knows what’s going on, and you know how they are getting on with the project. The trick is to have them at a regular interval, which gives enough time between meetings to not interrupt the workflow, and enough notice to the members to prepare.
Giving the correct amount of time between the meetings allows them to be more necessary, and gives a chance for a proper information exchange that would be lost if the meetings were too regular. Not regular enough, however, and the meetings will have too much time spent just explaining things that should have been shared before.
Having meetings at the same time also allows everyone to prepare properly, so they can present their progress, any difficulties, and what needs extra attention.
Every Tuesday morning for example can be a good way to set the tone of the week, and for everyone to share the progress they made the week previous. Mondays are days with higher amounts of staff off, and it is generally better to have a meeting in the middle three days of the week.
Perhaps, you’d rather give the team more time, so they don’t have to spend too much time every week preparing to present their work. Whatever works best for you, but keep regular with the same interval of time between them.
Ask yourself, do your project status meetings need lots of PowerPoint presentations? Do you need any presentations? How will your attendees share with the group?
These sorts of questions will help you know what kind of meeting you want. For example, PowerPoint presentations can be a great way to visually communicate information, but they require lots of work on behalf of the presenter and often people don’t pay attention. Having them too regularly will often detract from work, as they require time to make.
Sometimes they may be necessary, but consider limiting them, and instead just give people a few minutes to explain their progress, and any important statistics can be sent online.
Set a clear project status meeting agenda
Remember the focus of project status meetings. This meeting is for everyone to keep up to date on the progress of the project. Create an agenda that gives everyone who needs to a chance to explain their progress and any issues they have faced. This agenda should be clear and easy to understand.
Set a proper and effective agenda before the meeting and then share it with the attendees, so everyone knows what to expect, what to prepare for, and all the vital topics are covered. Any additional topics should be left to the end of the meeting, and left to be discussed elsewhere. No one wants a meeting to go on too long.
Here is an example of the kind of agenda you may use:
Recap: warm up people, go over anything they may have missed, to get everyone on the same page
Timeline: go over how things have gone regarding deadlines, and what to expect next
Budget: how much money has been spent, how much needs to be spent?
Resources-what else do people need? Is there a proper allocation of resources?
Any other matters?
By focusing on these areas, the conversations stay focused on the important topics. Of course, this will vary on what your project is. A software development project will be wildly different to a phone sales project status, but this gives you an idea of the sort of structure to present for your meeting. You may wish to talk about KPIs, sales targets, staff turnover, or many other things, but this gives you an outline of an agenda.
Remember, that software can help you create these and share them before, but we will get to that shortly!
Running the meeting well is a key challenge. At the end of the day, as a project manager, you are a facilitator in the meeting. Here are some specific things you should do to keep it running smoothly:
Provide time at the start
You should give time at the start to recap. Even with the best management and communication, people may well have missed some information, not had time to fully read up, and will need to get chatting to catch up. Use the start to present the key information, and allow for some friendly chit-chat between people to warm them up. It may seem like a waste of time, but it allows for better meetings.
Keep to the agenda
Focusing on the agenda ensures that all the important matters are discussed, and anything less relevant is discussed either at the end or elsewhere. Give everyone a chance to explain their progress, but focus on each matter in the allocated slot will keep information better organized and communicated.
Allocate proper time
You may well need a presentation from other members, but everyone needs a chance to communicate. Don’t let anything run too long, or too short, to ensure that all key information is communicated and understood. Don’t let people and other topics go on too long, so as not to go in circles or get people bored.
Ask clear questions
This is a tip on its own, although it ties into facilitation because it is so important! You, as the project manager, need to ask people the right questions. Here are some examples of the types of questions you should and shouldn’t ask:
“How’re things going on your end”
“What have you been doing lately”
“Just give me an update on your progress”
“What have you achieved last week, and what difficulties have you experienced?”
“Last week you said you needed to compile a report, did you manage to achieve this?”
“Can you provide us with the important updates on your work?”
The questions you should ask are specific, with specific goals in mind. They will provide the members with the opportunity to speak on their topic, and know what they need to share with the rest of the group. They may not realize what’s important, so this responsibility is on you to get that information from them.
Track and collate information before and after
Before the meeting, you should make sure all information goes to you. If the members of the meeting are all emailing each other, and you, then there’s plenty of potential for information to get lost, and lots of time wasted emailing back and forth.
Collate all the information before the meeting, and have everything prepared beforehand. Anything that needs sharing can be done so before the meeting to ensure everyone is up-to-date. This will save the time of explaining too much information in the meeting itself.
After the meeting, you should have some informative meeting notes. Use these notes and action items and send them out to the rest of the team immediately.
This keeps all communication clear, so nothing is lost. People can miss meetings, lose their attention, have interruptions and so on. Keep all the information at hand and communicate it.
Record and Transcribe your project status meetings
Taking proper Meeting notes is very important. By using software, you are able to make detailed notes from recordings of the meetings, which will save you a lot of time. Software can also help extract the key information, so you can share with your team and clients.
This is where a tool like Notiv can help. Notiv records, transcribes, and uses AI to generate a meeting summary that can automatically be sent out after the meetings.
This way, every meeting is useful, no one misses anything, but you also don’t have to spend hours trawling through recordings and transcripts to get the key information, rather the program will do this for you!
Everyone will be on the same page after the meeting, and anyone who missed the meeting will be brought up to date immediately.
We have given you 8 steps to have better project status meetings. If you follow these steps, you and your team will have significantly better meetings, and you can all stay on top of what needs to be done. It is helpful to get software, such as Notiv, to record, transcribe meetings and automate reports and action items, so each and every meeting becomes useful, and no one is kept in the dark.
Learn more about Notiv to see how it can improve your meetings and productivity!
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