If you have ever attended a project meeting and left wondering why you actually needed to be there, what the meeting was about, and if anything was achieved by the meeting, then you could be forgiven for wondering if in fact project meetings were really necessary.
In general, the project meeting is an essential tool in the life cycle of any project. However, there are meetings for the sake of meetings and then there are meetings that have a clear structure, goals and a purpose. Meetings are important but you could certainly argue that not all project meetings are really necessary to the success of all projects.
Plan Your Meeting Carefully
Many project managers like to set regular times when they will have meeting with their project team. This gives them an opportunity to catch up with everyone, check where they are up to with any assigned tasks and just generally ensure that there are no huge problems. These meetings have some value to your project; they don’t need to take too long, and they offer a great opportunity to connect on a regular basis with all of your team members. If everyone works remotely, then you can always hold these meetings remotely.
When it comes to these weekly catchup meetings make sure that you have a list of anything that you need to tackle and stick to it. Many people find meetings distracting and prefer to be getting on with their work rather than discussing it, so keep everything brief.
If you have planned a meeting, even a weekly one, and there really is nothing to discuss then cancel it. If people need to feed something back to you, they still can, and will, but this doesn’t always have to be done during a full team meeting.
Does It Need To Be a Meeting?
Not everything necessitates a meeting. Some things do need attention, but they only need to involve one other person and they can often wait, at least a little while. Before you call a meeting have a think about whether the meeting is important. If it can be done in an email, then consider doing this instead. This way you will not need to disrupt the workflow of the person that you need to talk to, and they can give the matter their full attention when they get a break in their work schedule.
This can make a huge difference to how team members and is far less likely to make them start grumbling that they need to attend yet another meeting. It will mean that when you do call an important meeting people are less likely to see it as a potential waste of time and something that will probably not be important. When team members attend a meeting in this frame of mind there is a good chance that it will end up being less productive.
The more project management experience the more you will understand when you need to call a meeting and when you can actually achieve the same results via a simple phone call or email. For many, this is a case of knowing the members of your team well and also knowing your role and is something that can only be learnt over time.
There really is no substitute for face-to-face communication. However, with remote working, team members working from home or even in completely different locations this is simply not always a possibility. Virtual meetings can in fact be a great tool to use when your team are based in different locations as it gives everyone a great opportunity to “meet” each other. However, keep in mind that not everyone wants to ‘just hop on a Zoom’, and restrict your meetings, just like those in person, that are strictly necessary to the project.