Operational Excellence

Five Signs Your Project Meetings Don't Suck

by Brad Egeland, September 9, 2014

It would be nice if we could cease meetings altogether. At least most of us think that way most of the time. Meetings often seem like phone calls we get. Phone calls – in many cases – are one sided. The caller gets something out of it because he made the call for a reason. The recipient basically gets part of his day wasted as a result of the call. That’s how many meetings are. But some of us project managers are actually good at meetings…and we may not even know it. You call project meetings for your creative projects to make decisions on ad campaigns, who to hire to complete the logo design, and how to best manage the rollout of a new advertisement, etc. But not everyone wants to be there, do they?

You can, though, have great project meetings. Productive, effective meetings. Meetings people want to attend, and meetings that make creative projects stay on track. How? Well, that’s fodder for another article… and I promise I will cover it. But for now I’d like to discuss five signs that the meeting you held today didn’t suck.

Attendees aren’t eating.

I hate it when people eat in my meetings. It’s a sign that I don’t fully have their attention. Let them know somehow – maybe with an angry gaze – that you’re not very approving of their food consumption during your meetings. Single them out for responses to questions. When people aren’t eating in your meetings, it’s a sign that they are more engaged… and that your meeting doesn’t suck.

People laugh… appropriately.

It’s ok to be funny at times during your meetings. In fact, keeping it on track, but at the same time keeping it light will help keep your attendees alert and engaged. Tell a joke or say something funny. If they respond appropriately, you have their attention. If not, it can be embarrassing like the comedian on stage that isn’t funny. Ouch.

No one is nodding off.

Look around the room. You know the ones. If you’re boring some of the crowd you can see it in the glistening drool coming from the corner of their lips. You can see it in the drooping eyelids. Don’t let that happen at your meeting. Be loud from time to time… do something unexpected. If no one is nodding off, then your meeting doesn’t suck. It can’t suck - because you have their attention.

Those conversations in the corner don’t continue.

Isn't it really frustrating when you get ready to start your meeting and there are several ‘little’ conversations going on around the table? Worse is when o ne or two of them continues even after you’ve kicked off the meeting. They aren’t showing you respect and they are disrupting the other participants. Everyone would be better off if those individuals weren’t in attendance. If all of those side conversations cease before you start the meeting, then it’s a good sign that you have a knack for demanding attention... and that your meeting doesn’t suck.

People actually show up.

Finally, if people consistently show up to your meetings then it’s a good sign that you run efficient, effective, meaningful, and productive meetings. People come because they know work will get planned, expectations will be set, creative direction will be defined, and campaigns will get organized. Things will happen. Their time won’t be wasted. Your meeting won’t suck. They have come to expect that and are in attendance for that reason. Or possibly because you control their pay and their very existence in the organization. Whichever is the case, it still means your meeting doesn’t suck.

Download our free guide to discover tips for conducting the perfect creative meeting.

Not all meetings will be good ones. Some will just plain stink from time to time. You’ll have bad meetings – truly unproductive meetings – because everyone has off days. But the key is to plan well, have a great agenda (in advance!), coordinate it so that participation is expected and unavoidable, and don’t cancel your meetings regularly. Stick to those principles and consistencies and you’ll usually have well-attended meetings that don’t suck.

How do you ensure you run meetings that don’t suck? What do you do to keep attendance high, participants engaged (and awake), and outcomes productive? When you look back post-meeting at how things went, what are some signs you look for that tell you that you ran a good meeting?

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