Provocation: Good Project Meetings don’t Happen by Chance

Sometimes the life of a project manager seems to be a constant trudge from one meeting to the next. And it doesn’t help that you are responsible for leading some of them.

We’ve all seen the endless tip lists for good meetings:

  • Set an agenda in advance
  • Invite the right people only
  • Start on time
  • Use a parking lot to avoid getting side tracked
  • Summarise and conclude as you go
  • Write down actions on a board
  • Follow up

And blah, blah, blah.

Been there, done it!

All these assume that the meeting is happening and it follows a pretty standard pattern. But how often do you sit down, in a quiet place, with enough time, and design your meetings?

If I said you need to facilitate a two day workshop, you could well spend between two and ten days designing it. It’s important: 6 to 12 people are putting in a couple of days and the workshop needs to produce results.

But project meetings? They’re just an hour…

An hour a month, that is. Or maybe an hour a fortnight. Or perhaps an hour a week. And how long is your project? Six months? A year… or two?

On an 18 month project say (a reasonable average for the sort of business projects I used to run), with a team of six or seven people, meeting monthly, and lasting an hour each time, that’s over 100 staff hours. That’s about the same as the same number of people going on a two-day workshop.

Get it?

Why aren’t you putting a couple of days into designing and reviewing your project meetings?


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