How to effectively participate in meetings

It’s true that meetings are often called to provide the perception that a project is progressing and the attendees leave the meeting feeling that nothing was resolved on or progressed. A project manager’s key role is to facilitate work, either your own on a small project, or that done by other people. To be a good project manager it is vital that you are able to facilitate effective meetings that deliver measurable outcomes, but also to effectively influence and participate in meetings.

Recommended reading on behaviours that will help in meetings is Stephen Covey’s book 7 habits of highly effective people.

Some items to consider when participating in meetings are:

Attend meetings that are worthwhile – While this may be governed by your manager or client as a general rule do not attend a meeting where there is no articulated aim or agenda. A meeting provides a forum for a number of people to discuss an issue or solution. As a general guide for projects it is generally effective to meet face to face: at the project kick off, to discuss interim results, and when the final report is due. Where there is no clear objective to a meeting declining the meeting and focusing on other tasks may make more sense.

If there is no agenda or purpose set out suggest one ‚Äì If you know it will be impossible or career limiting to avoid a meeting with no agenda, suggest one. Suggested wording could be, “in our meeting on Tuesday would you like to get X or Y out of the meeting? “. If your manager or a collegue asks to discuss an item with you that afternoon, “sure what would you like to cover? “. If you only do one thing to improve you meeting effectiveness make it that there is an articulated aim for all meetings you go to.

Be prepared ‚Äì If material is circulated before a meeting read through it and have some highlights summarised for the meeting. Questions that you have on the material is appropriate to bring to the meeting or raise with the meeting facilitator beforehand. To be a valuable contributor if you don’t agree with a point say so, BUT HAVE REASONING. A meeting is a forum that allows collaboration on an idea. In a respectful and polite manner suggesting additions and improvements to ideas is appropriate.

Understand what is expected of you from the meeting ‚Äì ideally at the end of the meeting the chair will recap on the key outcomes of the meeting and the actions. Make sure that you have a good understanding of any follow up actions required of you. Rather than say “so what should I be doing ” make a note of the actions that are required of you during the meeting. At the end of the meeting if it is not summarised you might say “so I understand you would like me to do X and Y by Z date. ”

Meetings can be a very effective business tool. Treat them as such and the effectiveness or your meeting participation will improve.

Recommended Project Management Software

If you’re interested in learning more about top rated project management software, the editors at actively recommend the following:

1 Wrike

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Tackle complex projects with Wrike’s award-winning project management software. Break projects into simple steps, assign tasks to team members, and visualize progress with Gantt charts, Kanban boards, and calendars. Manage resource allocation and forecasting with software that’s easy to launch. Automation and AI features strip away time-consuming admin tasks so you can do the best work of your life. Streamline your practices, align your team, and ensure you hit deadlines and stay on budget.

Learn more about Wrike

2 Smartsheet

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Smartsheet is an online work execution platform empowering organizations of all sizes to plan, manage, automate, and report on work. Over 80,000 brands rely on Smartsheet for project and work management.

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3 ClickUp

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ClickUp is one of the highest-rated project management tools today. Use Docs, Reminders, Goals, Calendars, Chat, scheduling, assigned comments, custom views, & more with this all-in-one project management tool.

Used by 800,000+ teams in companies like Airbnb, Google, and Uber, it brings all of your projects into a single app! Built for teams of all sizes and industries, Our fully customizable & proprietary features make it a must-have for anyone wanting to keep project management in one place.

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