Ideas, suggestions and general thoughts about project management for development.

Team Management

How to Pay Attention in Project Meetings

The plain fact is that some project meetings can be very, very boring. It's not uncommon for members of a team to zone out through long sessions in a conference room. However, doing so can have a negative impact on your career. A meeting is usually organized by the project manager and he or she expects that all members of the team will attend and contribute to the discussions in a constructive manner, so there are expectations that you need to meet and if you do not pay attention or seem distracted during the meeting your supervisor and colleagues will notice. So here are the ways on how to pay attention in project meetings.


1. Get your sleep. Well-rested staff have a better chance of paying attention and really understanding what's going on, and the result can put you further ahead in your professional goals. Think about having a cup of coffee if you think it will help you to really focus in when things are going on in a meeting.

2. Make a list of your questions prior to the meeting. Taking your comments and questions with you will help you stay involved, which will give you a better chance of keeping your attention focused throughout the entire session.

3. Find a good seat. If there is a kind of "blind spot" in the back of the room, avoid this area and stick to places where you will have a good view of projected screens or focal points and where you can hear what is being said by presenters.

4. Keep the meeting on track with proactive comments and questions. Even if you don't have anything written down for a particular topic, you might be one of those people who rightly observes that a speaker is wandering, getting away from appropriate topics, or taking much too long to get across what he or she has to say. In these instances, you can do yourself and everyone else a favor by helping to focus the meeting, staying engaged and actively interjecting when appropriate.

5. Take notes during the meeting. Writing things down keeps you more engaged, and you'll come away with those choice bits of information that will help provide detail on future events or projects. It might help to file the notes that you take so that you have access to them if there's a scenario where they could come in handy.


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How to Conduct Effective Project Meetings

b2ap3_thumbnail_meetings_20140423-162305_1.pngAs part of the role of the project manager is to make sure that the project is progressing as expected and that any issues are being addressed. Project meetings are one of the most common ways of doing this; here are some tips that will help making effective project meetings.  All project meetings should have an agenda. The creation of the agenda can be as simple as writing it in an email and sending it to the meeting participants.  On the first team meeting make sure everyone understands the agenda format. Once everyone understands the purpose and the regular flow, the standard agenda model can be reused every time.

  • For a large group of people attending the meetings, it is very helpful to have a meeting facilitator; in some cases it would be preferable to have somebody outside the project who has facilitating skills. For the regular ongoing status meetings, the facilitator is usually the project manager.
  • Ensure the participants know ahead of time what they need to bring to the meeting or any advance preparation that needs to take place. Make it a rule that only the people that need to be there are invited. Inviting other people not involved in the agenda topics to be discussed may distract and mitigate the effectiveness of the meeting.
  • Make it a practice that the meeting should start on time, with some allowance for those that may be coming from another meeting.
  • The first item on the meeting is that the project manager should explain the purpose and the expected outcome of the meeting, and make sure that to follow the agenda and watch · the time to make sure everything gets covered.
  • A team member should be in charge of document any action items assigned during the meeting. The documents will become the meeting minutes that will be circulated to all participants after the meeting.
  • The meeting minutes should recap all outstanding action items toward the end of the meeting, including who is responsible, what is expected, and when the action item is due. The meeting minutes should also recap any decisions that were made and that will be followed in the next project meeting.

 Keep The Meetings Focused

To keep a focus on the meeting keep the time to discuss general status, issues, scope and risks. These are the key components to check on the overall project health and should be of interest to all team members. Allow some space for some problem solving, but making sure that the problems are of interest to most of the team members. The most common complaint in project meetings is that they take too long. Long meetings are usually caused by too much problem solving that is not relevant to all of the meeting participants. A good practice to simply stick to the time allocated to the meeting. For example, if a meeting is taking too much time and still cannot complete all the items on the agenda, then end the meeting and take any other outstanding issues offline or to a separate meeting that focuses on these items with the people that are most interested.

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