Category Archives: Meetings

Meetings

Kickoff Meeting

Start Your Project with a Kickoff Meeting

The purpose of the kickoff meeting is to formally notify all stakeholders that the project has begun and make sure everyone has a common understanding of the project and his role. Like all formal meetings, there should be an agenda. There are a number of specific things you want to cover at this meeting:

    • Introduce the people at the meeting.
    • Recap the information in the Project Charter, including the purpose of the project, scope, major deliverables, risks, assumptions, etc.
    • Discuss the important roles and responsibilities of the project team, clients and stakeholders. If there is confusion about the role of any person or organization, it should be discussed and clarified now.
  • Go over the general approach and timeline of the project. This gives people a sense for how the project will unfold. In particular, you will want to ensure that people understand what they need to be doing in the short-term to support the project.
  • Answer any outstanding questions. The purpose of the discussion is not to rehash the purpose of the project, but to allow people to voice specific questions or concerns they have as the project begins.
  • Confirm that the project is now underway. If the project has not started yet, it should now be ready to start immediately.

In general, the project team, sponsor and major stakeholders should be in attendance. If this results in too many people for comfort, you can consider having only the major players attend. You can then meet with others in subsequent mini-kickoff meetings or you can send the relevant meeting information to the people who could not attend.

Although most kickoff meetings can be conducted in an hour or two, others might require a day or two. The longer kickoff meetings are especially important if the project is very complex or controversial.

It is said you never have a second chance to make a good first impression. This is true with the kickoff meeting. You are using the meeting to help set expectations for the project. If the meeting is unorganized, chaotic or a waste of time, the participants will probably carry those perceptions into the project as well. The project manager needs to make sure that he has prepared well for this meeting and that it goes smoothly.

Meetings

Eliminate Excess Meetings

Six Tips to Eliminate Excess Meetings

  1. Encourage Accessibility. Many times meetings are scheduled because decision makers have been inaccessible. They are holed up in their office with the door closed all day, or they may be road warriors that rarely return phone calls or emails. Encourage these key decision makers to make themselves accessible for quick questions, return calls and prompt email replies. This will eliminate the need to drag them, and a whole bunch of other people, into a meeting.
  2. Use a Good Project Management Tool. Affordable project management tools have reached a level of simplicity and sophistication that just a few years ago was reserved for expensive enterprise level solutions. Take advantage of these tools to do things that otherwise call for a meeting: task assignment, collaboration, and discussions. These can all occur virtually and eliminate the need for scheduling another meeting.
  3. Change Your Culture. Unnecessary meetings can be a result of people not wanting to make their own decisions. They may not realize they have permission to make decisions on their own. Work on changing your culture from one of indecision to it’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to ask permission. Good people will make good decisions. Trust them to do the right thing without having to call a meeting for every decision. They will infrequently also make bad decisions. Work with them to show them what they could have done differently, but don’t chastise them to the point that they revert to the old culture of meeting madness.
  4. Know How Much Your Meetings Cost. Understanding the cost of personnel when you hold a meeting can be an eye opener. A one hour meeting with eight average-salaried employees will easily run into the hundreds of dollars. In a mid to large sized company it quickly adds up to up to thousands of dollars spent weekly just on meetings! Is there a better use of everyone’s time that provides a greater ROI to the company? Most likely, there is.
  5. Review the Need for Recurring Meetings. Project managers love recurring meetings. When a project starts out, one of the first things we typically do is set up a weekly meeting where everyone can touch base about the project. These meetings are invaluable during the project’s early days, but they begin to lose their utility as the project progresses. Review the frequency of your recurring meetings to see if perhaps they could be moved to every other week, or maybe even once a month if things are going well with the project.
  6. Pay Attention. You need to lay ground rules at the outset of meetings that encourages everyone to pay attention. Kindly remind them to take their hands off their laptops, check their digital devices at the door, keep their eyes up, be attentive and engage. It’s a waste of your time if you have to schedule a one-on-one meeting to discuss something that was covered – but that they didn’t catch!

Meetings are indispensible when it comes to sharing information, collaborating, and making decisions. However, be mindful that meetings can also be time wasters and productivity killers. Implement these suggestions and you will easily gain up to a full day of your work life back each week!