Creative projects have many elements that are key players in their success or failure. Some of those are outside of the creative project manager’s (or creative director’s) control. Funding gets pulled, vendors go away, clients become disinterested, etc. etc. But one of the common threads in every creative project is meetings. And what happens in meetings? Communication, decision making and information dissemination. So, it only goes to prove that well-run, efficient and effective meetings that help move the project and key stakeholders along toward the overall project goals are a key ingredient to that project’s success, right? Yes…most definitely.
Why is meeting management so critical? Here are five reasons…
Meeting attendance. The attendance at the meeting is extremely important for a number of reasons. If you know key creative decisions need to be made, then you need the right people at that particular meeting who will make those decisions. If that’s a VP, then you need to get him there. If that’s the CEO, then get him there. These people should be paying attention to the project manager – especially if they value the projects, and the clients in the organization (and they should…revenue and profit is important to them, no?). A good, connected, and confident creative project manager should be able to get the right people to the table at a project meeting.
Meeting productivity/participation. This one ties into the others to some degree. Basically though, it’s more about how the project manager facilitates the meeting. Attendance and timing is part of it, as is agenda, but overall management of the discussion is critical. Make sure the right people are participating in the discussion. If an important decision needs to be made and the loud participants are drowning out the quiet ones that you need info from, recognize that, take control of the discussion and get the information that you need. This seems logical, but those squeaky wheels get the grease and you need to not enable that.
Meeting timing. Beginning and ending creative project team and client meetings is a critical element of meeting management. Project managers who start promptly, end promptly and stick to the topics are the ones who are taken seriously and viewed as efficient professionals. Your meetings will be more productive and better attended.
Meeting agenda. In order to insure the most productive meeting possible, the project manager needs a good agenda. Not just the same template agenda from meeting to meeting (what’s happened, what’s happening, what will happen). It should pretty much be a status report that needs revising. Go through all of the outstanding items, get updates, review issues and revise status’ as called for, discuss key milestones, discuss upcoming deliverables, and even address that unavoidable but painful topic of risk. Send out the meeting agenda in advance so that everyone is prepared to discuss details.
Meeting follow-up. Finally, meeting follow-up. After the meeting, go back to everyone with your notes. The thorough project manager goes back to each attendee with their understanding of what was discussed and what decisions were made. Each attendee then as till the end of the day or till the next day at noon, for example, to respond with any revisions. If any changes to the project manager’s notes are needed, then one final revision should go out to everyone to make sure all stakeholders are on the same page. You do this for every meeting and everyone will take your meetings very, very seriously. And that’s a very good thing.
These actions are key to making sure you – as the creative project manager – are managing your meetings well. And not just managing them well, but planning well for them. Good meetings don’t just happen. Don’t count on luck as a factor. Be thorough, plan well, and execute on these five items…and your meeting management will be on track to play its proper role in the success of your creative project.