Running Effective Meetings… Like a Boss
As a Delivery Manager, I am always looking to make my teams more efficient and foster collaboration. Whether you are an Account or Project Manager, at a digital agency or a financial planning company, knowing how to run effective company meetings (like a boss) is an essential part of your work day. Even if you aren’t technically the head honcho in the office, when you organize a meeting you’re taking responsibility for everyone’s time and the meeting’s agenda, so plan, prepare and run the meeting like a boss to make it as effective as possible.
I know… meetings. I am already hearing the groans. No one likes to spend their day in meetings, but if done well and with a bit of creativity they are the best way for the team to quickly iron out questions and continue to foster team conversation throughout the entire project.
Success Starts with a Strategy
Be prepared! Distribute relevant materials, assets, and direction to your team in advance of the meeting (and remind them to review it thoroughly). Outline the goal and tone of the meeting when sending out the initial invitation so that your team knows how the topic is related to the project and can come prepared with a laptop, notebook, or walking shoes (yes, you read that correctly). Whether it be an “Internal Kickoff Meeting for Website”, “Client Brainstorming Session”, “Project Regroup” or “Daily Scrum”- be sure to also carve out enough time to get everyone involved, but not crash someone’s day with meeting mayhem.
Get things started by ensuring the goal of the meeting is verbally communicated at the start. Then let the conversation build. While the daily scrum is a tried and true method to keep meetings short and sweet (who wants to be standing for a long time), the style that has really caught our fancy is “the walking meeting”. While this works best in a one-on-one scenario, a team of 4 can certainly gain from stretching your legs while getting inspired by a change in scenery.
Nilofer Merchant, a former technology executive, extolled the benefits of walk-and-talk meetings at a TED conference. "By walking side by side, it reinforces the perspective that you're working on something together," Merchant says in a recent CNN article. And rumor has it - Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg were also both fans.
Use All of Your Resources
Whether this is a kickoff for a multi-page website or a daily regroup, it is important to include all of your project team members. I couldn’t agree more with Allie Wagner from Happy Cog, who champions for bringing your dev team in early. Not only can they voice their expertise on the various technical considerations your project may need, but they often contribute just as enthusiastically to the user experience and creative ideas as the rest of the bunch. This is also a great time to get their buy in and set up timeline expectations early in the process.
End with a Bang
At the end of the meeting, reiterate what each team member’s next steps are and the timeline to execute both internally as well as client facing. There is nothing more frustrating than walking away from a meeting and someone saying, “now what am I supposed to do again”. If you’re involved in leading the meeting and / or the project you should be 100% sure that everyone knows what their action items are before they leave the room
Holding a project post-launch meeting is also, in my opinion, the most important meeting of them all. A “post-mortem” is imperative to not only the project that just finished, but also to every project that you will touch in the future. Ask the tough questions here - not only of yourself but of your clients. You may discover that redefining internal processes or how you communicate with your client may be the key to success in your next project and meetings.
Having the ability to run effective meetings is crucial for any successful manager or company leader. In the end, if you’re in charge of the meeting it’s crucial that you make sure the meeting is a productive use of everyone’s time, and that the meeting contributes to moving your project or goal forward in some way.