Project Management Meetings: What Are They and How to Ace Them
A project management meeting is a time where the stakeholders and the project team gather together to discuss the details of a project. Project management meetings are incredibly important at each stage of a project, even before its kickoff. The main purpose of these meetings is to make sure all key stakeholders and the project manager and team sync on the project’s scope, deadlines for project steps, and the status updates. There are several meeting types that take place in different phases of a project.
Stakeholder meetings are necessary for understanding stakeholder expectations from a project. It’s often the project manager’s duty to comprehend, prioritize, and help the project team realize stakeholder expectations during these meetings.
Ideally, these meetings are held at the beginning and throughout the project. Because usually, stakeholders want to know that they’re making the right investment and monitor project health.
Most projects require frequent brainstorming meetings where potential issues and their solutions are addressed. Brainstorming techniques during these meetings help the project team come up with the most effective solutions and design the most seamless processes.
While the final decision on most issues often belongs to a project manager, brainstorming sessions can broaden their horizon in two aspects:
- Team members can bring up solutions and tools in their areas of expertise that are too specific for a project manager to have knowledge of
- Stakeholders can make recommendations based on their prior experience with other teams and projects
You can hold brainstorming sessions before a project’s kickoff, and throughout its course. Seasoned project managers know that project teams can come across major roadblocks that can affect a project’s success. Even in its later stages. There can also occur strategy changes that the upper management or key stakeholders may want to enforce. In these cases, holding additional brainstorming meetings can help teams seamlessly navigate the change.
Project kickoff meetings
The purpose of a kickoff meeting is to make sure every team member is on the same page about:
- All activities and tasks that needs to be done
- Assignment of all tasks and responsibilities
- Schedules and deadlines of all tasks
- Expected difficulties
- Hierarchies (if hierarchies within the project team vary from one project to another)
In some projects, senior management and clients can also attend the kickoff meeting, if the project inherently demands such close supervision by those parties.
Project Management Status meetings
Status meetings are held regularly throughout a project. Based on your project management methodology and the duration of your projects, you can hold monthly, weekly, or even daily status meetings.
Development teams, for instance, usually work in weekly sprints. While the goals are set weekly, they often hold daily stand-up meetings. These standup meetings help developers share their progress toward the sprint goal, ask for help, and avoid major problems.
This doesn’t mean that every project calls for daily scrums though. Creative teams, for one, typically need to spare some time to find inspiration. Daily progress of creative teams might be more difficult to measure.
And keep in mind that daily meetings can become a burden in projects where the progress is rather slow. The project team can feel frustrated and micromanaged when they consider these meetings a waste of time.
Retrospective meetings, or retros, allow teams to reflect on a finished project. You can hold retros at the end of a project, to contribute to your team’s collective growth. The main purpose of these meetings is to identify the strategies and methods that worked well or didn’t. This way, teams can know what to integrate into the next project, and what not to.
Through regular successful retro sessions, you can:
- Build a transparent workplace culture where team members feel confident enough to share thoughts
- Highlight your team’s and individuals’ strengths and weaknesses to better position them in your next project
- Adjust your expectations based on past experiences
- Help your team learn from their mistakes and avoid them in the future
- Plan your next project more effectively
Now that you know project management meeting types, let’s see how you can ace them.
How to hold effective project management meetings
While specific projects might require a distinct approach, there are some general rules you can follow to hold effective project meetings.
Establish transparent goals
It’s crucial that you set goals for individual project meetings. The objectives you set need to be transparent, understandable, and realistic. And you should communicate those goals with your team before the meeting takes place.
If, for instance, you’re going to hold a brainstorming session, let them know which topics you’re going to discuss. And tell them what you expect to achieve by holding that session. This way, people will know what to focus on, and the meeting will be significantly more productive. You can communicate via email, or your business messaging app.
Make use of collaboration tools
Collaboration tools like Trello, Miro, Google Jamboard, Microsoft Whiteboard, or Lucidspark can help you make your meetings engaging. These tools foster a creative setting where the sharing of ideas and cooperation are actually fun. And they also provide structure. When the meeting is over, it’ll be easier for you to derive actionable results out of the meeting notes.
Assign meeting roles
To make things even more interesting, you can assign meeting roles to your team members. Assigning meeting-specific responsibilities to the team can help you create a sense of belonging to the project.
A team member can be in charge of scheduling the meeting, sending out invitations, sharing meeting agenda, hosting the meeting, tracking time, taking team notes, or representing the customer’s point of view.
Celebrate success during project management meetings
Celebrating success is as equally important as providing negative feedback. While negative feedback can help your team members realize areas of improvement, positive feedback can help them keep up the good work.
Positive acknowledgements boost individuals’ morale, foster cooperation, and help build positive work relationships. Show your team that you recognize their efforts and accomplishments.
Victor Z Young is a Civil Engineer with 35 years of experience working alongside the executive team of various construction companies. Victor specializes in construction insurance, delay analysis, performance analysis and engineering. He holds a Doctor of Project Management from Northwestern University.