A project team meeting is a great opportunity for a Project Manager to update and engage their project team. They are also fantastic for fostering meaningful collaboration as well as overcoming challenges. It’s one of the main types of project meeting that you need to master.
Running a regular project team meeting can be dangerous if the Project Manager takes their eye off the ball. The meeting can get taken for granted or given a lower priority. In turn, this makes the meeting less effective and less useful. Not only will this lead to missed opportunities, but also your attendees will think the meetings are a waste of time.
It’s downward spiral that could end up putting your project in danger. As such, you need to recognise the signs of a boring project team meeting early and take action.
What Do Your Team Members Think of Your Project Meetings?
The best way to know what your project team members think of your project meeting is to simply ask them. You could do this regularly as part of the meeting. Another way of getting feedback would be to ask your attendees to respond to a survey or in a one on one conversation.
The Harvard Business Review released some research that they had done with some surprising statistics. The article also reveals the story of an attendee stabbing herself in the leg with a pencil during one boring meeting. Ouch.
Alternatively, here are a few tell-tale signs that you might need to make some changes. (Also, if someone stabs themselves with stationary – that’s definitely a sign).
5 Signs that your Project Team Meeting is Boring
1. Poor engagement
Do you find yourself regularly asking questions to be met with blank faces and crickets! Do you think your participants are rarely adding value to the meeting? If this is the case, you have poor engagement and this is a major indicator of boring project meetings. The project team’s attention has waned and they are physically there but mentally in sleep mode. You need to shift things up a little.
2. People turn up late
Do you find attendees turning up late? Rushing in because they had to finish something off or were doing something else. The excuses could be genuine or it could be a sign that they are not prioritising your project team meeting. The reason behind this could be that they don’t see value in the meeting or it could be that they find them boring. Both will hurt you and your project in the long run.
3. Attendees are doing other work in the meeting
This sign has become a lot more frequent with the rise of technology, including phones, tablets and laptops with some useful battery life. If you’re sitting in a dull meeting, it’s easier to let your mind wander and get on with useful work, like checking emails or writing that report.
The real crime here for the attendee is a double productivity hit. Not only are they not mentally present in the meeting but they are also not being productive in whatever else they are doing.
This is a major sign that your project team meeting needs to be jump started to add a spark of excitement.
4. Late cancellations
Are you finding that you get a stream of “decline” emails at the last minute? Something more important has urgently come up? Whilst this could be true, it is similar to the late attendees challenge. If it’s happening too regularly, you seriously need to consider if people are trying desperately hard to find a reason not to come! Uh oh… something needs to change here.
5. Nobody takes action
You manage to get people to turn up and engage. Great. But do you find when you need people to step up and take action, everyone is looking at you to miraculously do everything?
This is a sign that whilst people are willing to have a say, they are not bought into the project and don’t feel committed to really helping. Whilst there are many potential causes of this, the regular, predictable and mundane project team meeting is one. In turn, this makes people feel like they don’t want to really be part of this work, despite still being committed to the overall change.
Whilst these are signs, they are indications and you should look for patterns. Don’t immediately jump to conclusions if one person turns up late one. There could be other things going on for a one off occurrence.
How to Hold a Successful Project Team Meeting
There are a number of actions you can pursue if you want to power up your project team meeting. (In fact, you can pick up my 30 project tips for free at the bottom of this post). You can also read more meeting tips in this article.
Have a purpose
What is the point of regularly having this project team meeting? If you’re not able to clearly state the reason for having it, you should question whether you need to change the style, frequency or length. Could you do some of the update by email? Would a conference call allow people to be more productive with their time. Should you stop it as a weekly meeting and change it to every 2 weeks or every month?
Your meeting should have a specific aim or purpose. In turn, this should make your attendees more engaged as they understand what the meeting is trying to do.
Build and share an agenda
Once you have the purpose for your project team meeting, you can build an entertaining agenda. Mix up the topics and minimise any one way communication sections. The agenda should be full of collaborative, discussion based topics. Your attendees will be ready to get involved if you set this expectation beforehand. In turn, this makes the meeting less boring and more entertaining. People will want to be involved rather than feeling like they have to be involved.
Use pre-read to get everyone up to date
If you have a lot to share, why not do this in the form of a pre-read. People can absorb it beforehand and can arrive to the project team meeting with the information in their heads. Now, have a questions and answer discussion instead to use the time more effectively.
Furthermore, an added benefit will be that a written update or slide deck can be used to communicate with other stakeholders too. You’ll be more succinct compared to updating the project team ‘on the fly’ too. This could be a great opportunity to make your meetings more engaging.
Change the location
If you hold a regular meeting at the same time, in the same place every week, perhaps you need to mix it up. Perhaps you need to get people out of their comfort zone. Changing the location is an easy and quick win here that can help people think and act differently. In addition to this, it’s a brilliant way of setting up for a more creative team meeting.
Review the meeting at the end
It’s also good to review the meeting at the end, in a wrap up stage, included in the agenda. This is great for getting feedback – both good and bad. Plus, it will engage the attendees. They will feel like they have a voice to make things better, rather than just playing the mundane meeting victim!
They’ll be excited to see a new and improved meeting the following week. The only caveat to this is that you have to make sure to take action on the points raised. Otherwise, you risk frustrating people further!
What are you going to do to liven up your next project team meeting? If you need more ideas to get the most out of your meetings, why not get our free guide to running effective meetings. You’ll get 30 actionable tips to put into practice straight away. It’s a complimentary gift for you once you have subscribed to our email club newsletter – just sign up below.
About the Author
Oliver Banks is an expert at delivering retail change projects and programmes. He’s led and managed many different types of retail projects, working with a variety of stakeholders. At the time of writing, it’s estimated that he’s led over 2000 project meetings covering many different types.