Project managers have to deal with different kinds of people and personalities every day when trying to keep their teams working together and focused on goals. The same strategies managers embrace when building a team or leading a project also can be applied when leading a meeting. The key to success is planning.
Project managers have to deal with different kinds of people and personalities every day when trying to keep their teams working together and focused on goals. The same strategies managers embrace when building a team or leading a project also can be applied when leading a meeting.
The key to success is planning. Mapping out in advance how the meeting should go helps set up a smooth environment where you can coordinate people and topics with ease.
Where to Start
The first step is to clearly communicate the topics you are going to cover. If there is more than one subject to talk about, you should define the agenda you are going to walk through. This will allow you to go over each issue in the most organized way.
It is also important to communicate the agenda to each attendee beforehand in order to allow everyone to be ready for discussion. It will allow them to gather the most suitable information to be shared in the meeting, and it will ensure that everybody is up to speed on the topics that will be discussed so there will not be any deviation from the meeting’s purpose.
When a meeting is being held with the goal of making decisions, it is essential to invite the right people. If decision-makers are missing, the meeting will not come to a real conclusion. You should clearly communicate the purpose of the meeting when setting it up and be sure that everybody there is involved and interested in the topics you are going to present.
On the other hand, you shouldn’t invite just anyone. Having too many people in the meeting will drag out the process of making decisions, so still be selective. Choose the people you want to attend the meeting based on how good their ideas are, even if they do not yet support your position. A good communication strategy could be the best way to bring them around to your way of thinking.
Similarly, it is not a good idea to have a large agenda and many topics to discuss. If you have too much material to cover, split the meeting into more than one encounter to avoid having bored attendees.
The language you are going to use to make your presentations is very important. As there could be attendees with different skills, you have to be mindful of the words you use. Many times you will need to present business issues, talk about technical matters, discuss project goals, and review financial results—sometimes all in the same meeting. You should be sure that the language is understandable to everybody, regardless of professional background or current department.
Usually, you can rely on charts or graphics to easily explain specific information. Remember that a good picture is worth a thousand words. If critical quantifiable information could be shown in a single graph, opt for that. If you need to elaborate, you can, but an image will still let the audience quickly understand if things are running properly or something is wrong without their having to be proficient in the matter.
Introducing the Main Topic
As the meeting moderator, you should give an introduction to remind the audience why they are attending the meeting and the main goal to be achieved. This is also the moment to explain the rules, such us how much time each attendee will have to give their points of view, when they should ask questions, if the meeting will be conducted under some specific methodology, and so on.
Reaching a Consensus
It is often hard to lead a group of people to a consensus. The process takes into account values such as cooperation, confidence, creativity, motivation, and honesty. The group should feel that they can share their thoughts with responsibility and integrity, so it’s important for the meeting leader to foster that feeling.
To begin with, you should establish a clear objective for the meeting, then outline the process by which everyone will present their ideas and come to a conclusion.
You should avoid any attitude that doesn’t have to do with reaching an agreement. Group members should be willing to consider other ideas that would be in the best interest of the goal. When it comes to a consensus, there are not individual winners or losers; the entire group wins.
Leading effective meetings doesn’t happen by accident. You should develop a procedure and make a list of tasks to follow step by step. Strategy is the key to any successful meeting.
Using these tactics will help smooth out your process for conducting meetings and produce better results that your whole team will appreciate.