Tips for Making Meetings Effective
Throughout a project-oriented deployment, you will be required to conduct numerous meetings with your
customer. If you plan them properly, you will be able to steer the project in the right direction. It also
gives you the ability to gather all the key players in one room, put them on the same page, work through
any issues that might have arisen and make any decisions that need to be made.
When I first started running my own projects, I was given some great tips on what makes an effective
meeting and felt that it might be helpful if I pass them on.
Set Objectives – The art of setting objectives is something you will get better at with experience.
You will want to give the attendees as much information as possible on why you have called the
meeting and what you expect to accomplish. You will also want to set a clear timeline.
Establish an agenda and distribute in advance – Send your attendees an agenda and a copy of the
documentation you will be presenting to them. This gives them the opportunity to become prepared
for the meeting and the opportunity to truly participate. Your results will fall short of your objectives
if you give a customer a fifty page document and then turn around and ask if he or she has any
questions. Send it out a few days in advance and let them know that you are willing to answer any
questions they may have. Ask the attendees if they have talking points for the agenda and have them
email those thoughts back to you before the meeting so you too will be better prepared. People love to
participate. This shows them you are interested in what they have to say and also shows them that you
like to be prepared in advance so as to not waste anyone’s time.
Start and end the meeting on time (Don’t allow interruptions or sidetracking from the meetings
agenda) – It is important for you to utilize your time as efficiently as possible. It is a good ideal to set
tentative times for each item and then stick to them. You do this by the art of “on table / off table”. If
you find the meeting getting off subject, you will want to take the subject “off table”. Then when you
are documenting and assigning the next steps you will be able to schedule time for those questions /
comments, if they are truly important.
Work through each agenda item (Assign and document action items) – In your agenda you will
have documented a list of action items you want to discuss. You will want to address each item and if
additional follow-up is needed, assign a party to be responsible for the task and a timeline for
Document and assign next steps – If you are not able to finalize all the action items, you will need to
document the steps required for completion and the individual responsible. You can also take this
time to take action on items that you had tabbed “off table” and make assignments and schedule
Summarize Meeting – To close the meeting, you will want to leave yourself a few minutes to
summarize what has been completed and summarize what follow-up is required. You should
schedule follow-up meetings for sign-off on any action items that you have scheduled.
Minutes – Make sure that comprehensive Minutes are taken and distributed. You can do this yourself
or assign it to another person.