Four Project Meeting Problems – Which Ones Do You Want to Overcome?

Productivity

Friends, have you experienced wasteful project meetings lately? Although meetings are a fundamental communication tool, many meetings fail to achieve real results. Let’s look at four common project meeting problems: unclear purpose, topic hopping, indecision, and unclear direction.

people in a meeting

Four Project Meeting Problems

1

Unclear Purpose

Far too often, people attend meetings with no idea of why the meeting was called. You can bet the meeting will wander aimlessly without clear objectives.


The meeting facilitator should specify the purpose in the agenda. For example: “To select requirements from the backlog for the next sprint.”


Next, start your meetings by stating the purpose of the meeting. For example: “The purpose of this meeting is to select requirements from the backlog for the next sprint.” 


Additionally, review the agenda topics and ground rules. Ask if there are any questions or any additional agenda items.


These steps help to ensure that everyone is on the same page and understands the purpose, topics, and desired conduct.

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2

Topic Hopping

Many people are free thinkers. They hop from one topic to another. However, this digression decreases the efficiency and effectiveness of your meetings.


Reviewing your purpose and agenda items defines the boundaries of your meetings. What is in scope? What is out of scope?


In addition, use a Parking Lot. Meetings stimulate ideas. People don’t want to forget them. Capture the idea or topics for discussion later.


Furthermore, consider using a gatekeeper. This team member keeps the team on track. If team members wander aimlessly, the gatekeeper redirects the team to the current topic. 

overhead picture of a meeting
3

Indecision

We often leave project meetings with no decisions. Why?


First, there is a lack of clarity on who will make the decisions. Second, no one knows how the decisions will be made (e.g., consensus). Lastly, there is a lack of information or analysis. Determine these factors before the meeting. 


Additionally, the number of meeting participants matter. There is an inverse relationship between the number of participants and how quickly decisions are made. Ensure that you have adequate stakeholder representation, but limit the participants to no more than eight people when possible.

4

Unclear Direction

Project managers may fail to follow up on meeting items. Furthermore, he or she may not have a method for capturing important action items and decisions.


A well-run meeting should result in clear direction and progressively propel your project forward. The facilitator should ensure that the following items are captured during the meeting and reviewed at the end of the meeting:


Meeting RAID:

  • Risks. Capture threats and opportunities in your risk register.
  • Action Items. The action items should include: date of action item, actions to be taken, person responsible, due date, status (Open or Closed).
  • Issues. Issues are threats that have occurred and require management. Issues should include: date of issue, description, person responsible, due date, status.
  • Decisions. What decisions were made? Who made the decision? What was the date of the decision? What factors contributed to the decision?

About the author 

Harry Hall

My name is Harry Hall and I'm the guy behind the projectriskcoach.com and the author of The Purpose Driven Project Manager. Risks can derail projects, resulting in challenged and sometimes failed projects. I make project risk management easy to understand and practical to apply, putting project managers in drivers seat.

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