Long term projects need meetings to check progress, address issues, and keep stakeholders engaged. Here’s a couple of tips to make sure your regularly scheduled meetings have some teeth:
Provide an agenda: Meetings eat up time and if you know the agenda in advance you will have an idea of how much. If you want to add an item to the agenda then respond to the organizer (and cc: all) to make that request. If everyone practices this, then you can keep meeting time focused.
Define the Action Items: Updates are fine, but the real takaway from a meeting is action. An Action Item needs three things to be effective. An Owner, a Deliverable, and a Deadline. Meeting agendas should include an update on open action items.
Send a Recap: The agenda is the template for what was discussed: what was learned, what was debated, what was agreed upon, what was decided, and were there any actionable items. By keeping a brief summary of the meeting, attendees can get up to speed if they miss one. Minutes would also remind folks of new Action Items and connect them to the agenda.
Interim Review: Sometimes it is necessary to do a recap – explain the current project scope, demonstrate what progress has been made, and discuss whether the progress is appropriate and deadlines reasonable. Schedule these at meeting junctures that would otherwise have short agendas. This may be when progress has been inhibited by resource setbacks or after a a scope change.