Project meetings are an essential part of every project engagement. It’s where project statuses get relayed, issues get discussed, assignments get reported on and clarified, and key group decisions are made. They must happen. And it’s really important that the key stakeholders are in attendance. You know the ones—usually your team, the customer and whoever else has more than a cursory interest in the project. If your key decision makers are skipping your meetings it can cause critical task or decision delays that need to be made immediately—not a week from now. Especially when you’re trying to be agile!
So why are people skipping your meetings? What is going wrong that is driving key attendees away? They should consider your project meetings essential, not optional. Let’s examine three potential reasons this may be happening…
You tend to accommodate the latecomers. Do you find yourself recapping everything for those meeting attendees who straggle in 10 or 15 minutes late every time? This can drive the rest of the attendees crazy and you may not be aware of it—until they decide to just skip the meeting altogether. Remember that everyone’s time is very valuable—not just yours. If you want to maximize attendance and productivity, you’ll need to look at the meeting from the attendees’ point of view, not just from yours.
Try this next time—don’t recap. When they arrive late tell them you need them on time as a courtesy to everyone already there and to help maximize productivity and minimize wasted project expense. Remind them that they are key players on the project and you need their participation. If it keeps up, go to their supervisor. Don’t threaten them with that though, just do it if it continues for the next couple of meetings.
You have trouble sticking to the agenda. You put out a nice agenda, but you have trouble staying true to it. That can be confusing to those in attendance and—if you sent it out in advance as you always should—it can really frustrate those who came prepared to participate on key points of the agenda only to see those things not even being addressed. It’s ok to add to the agenda during the meeting, but at least be sure to address everything that is on the agenda before straying. And only stray if you really have time to do so …see the next key point…
Your meeting time management skills are lacking. Are you starting and ending your meetings on time? If not, you have a tendency to lose people along the way. Their time is valuable and if they see you as a poor time manager, they aren’t likely to allow you to waste their valuable time for very long before they just start skipping your meetings. And that will be your fault, not theirs…so if you go to their supervisor complaining about their attendance, you will definitely get that negative feedback thrown at you. Start on time, end on time and stick to the schedule and topics. Do that and you’ll earn a good reputation as a meeting facilitator.
Our project meetings are critical to our ongoing project engagement. It’s where we disseminate project information and make assignments. It’s where group decisions get discussed and finalized. Without them, it’s difficult to make progress. So use them wisely. And staying true to the points above will help keep key stakeholders in the meeting seats and productively contributing to your meeting’s and project’s success.
How about our readers? What meeting frustrations have you encountered …either as a meeting facilitator or an attendee? What’s most important to you when you’re heading to a meeting …what keeps you there week in and week out?
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