Wouldn’t it be great if we could get more accomplished each day? Wouldn’t it be nice if your associates looked forward to getting meeting invites from you?

As project managers we are the keeper of people’s time. This is a weighty role and often not one that all PM’s are all that great at handling. The best of us find ways to increase productivity and make life easier on our teams. It’s my opinion that we’ve fallen into a habit of using “Outlook time”. To keep our teams on generalized schedules of 30 minute, 1 hour or 2 hour blocks, we are booking more time than what’s really required. By doing this, our teams often see us as invading their time and making them less productive.

When you have the inclination to book a meeting, first ask yourself “Why do I need this meeting?”. Be absolutely sure that you can answer that question succinctly. If the meeting is to get a decision on a particular item or issue, then this is a great chance to try out your first 15-minute meeting.

First, take a few extra minutes to create an agenda that goes into the notes section of your invite that includes:

1. Why the meeting is needed.

2. What goals are expected to be reached during the meeting.

Think through who needs to attend your meeting and be sure you only invite people that will agree this is an important issue and are committed or required to help resolve the issue. If you are very clear on your agenda, it’s quite possible one of the invitees will provide the answer and the meeting itself won’t be needed at all.

Assuming you still need the meeting, try following Diane Buckley Altwies’ structure outlined in Project Insight’s webinar How to Avoid Meeting Madness. Diane lays out a plan for 10-minute meetings! Each section is assigned a specific time limit. There is time slotted to restate the issue, give an overview of the importance of resolving the issue during the meeting, time for stating facts, providing evidence, giving your recommendation and receiving feedback.

Here’s how you become a meeting hero: Let’s assume you spent 15 minutes putting together your meeting invite and really thinking through your goal. Then you spend 60 - 90 minutes gathering history and researching possible solutions. This should include 30-45 minutes of testing out ideas on a few of your invitees. Let’s assume you invite 10 people to your meeting. All total, there is a time investment here of about 4 hours. The alternative is 10 people in a meeting for 1 hour, which is 10 hours invested. While it certainly does take more of YOUR time to make these meetings work, in the end you’ll be doing your job well and it could be a big payoff for the company!


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patti is a Project Management Consultant with over 15 years of experience managing complex website projects. She works with clients in many industries including software development, healthcare and professional organizations. Learn more about Patti on LinkedIn.

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