Have efficient meetings by specifying the meeting type

Many meetings go out of hand. Most times they start fine but at some point the discussion may leave the topic and a lot of time is spend to talk about topics which do not belong to the origin topic of the meeting. In order to prevent this you can assign a meeting type. This type and the resulting topics should be communicated within the invitation and at the beginning of the meeting. During the meeting, you can stay on the topics which are defined by the meeting type.

Following you will find some meeting types and a suggestion for topics. Of course in your projects and your organization you may have some additional meeting types.

 
Project kickoff meeting

This is a basic meeting to give information to all team members and introduce the team. It could have the following topics:

  • Give a short summary about the project goals and the customer
  • Introduce the whole team and roles
  • Show a summary of the project plan with the important timelines and milestones
  • What do you want to contribute
  • How do you want to embed the project members into the team and how much personal responsibility do they have
  • What do you expect from the team members and what do you not like
  • Why do you need the team (you can say one or two sentences about each team member and why you need him, but be careful and talk about each member and do not favor someone)
  • Give a short outlook on the next steps

 
Project status meeting

This type of meeting should have the following topics:

  • Comparison of the actual situation with the plan (this should be prepared by the project leader)
    • Goals and objectives
    • Achievement
    • Changes
    • Timelines
    • Expenses and costs
    • Organization and interaction
  • Juggling with the project plan: „How can we still reach our goals?“
  • Define actions: Who should do what by when?

 
Problem solving meeting

You can define the following topics:

  • Define the subject
  • Problem analysis
  • Brainstorming
  • Review and summary
  • Find decision and create an action plan

 
Decision maker meeting

Within this meeting, important agreements with the environment (e.g. client, customer, other departments) will be promoted. A meaningful topic order may be:

  • Summary of project status
  • Requests and petitions
  • Discussions
  • Agreements

 
Summary

An efficient meeting starts with focus on the right topics. You can create this focus by defining the meeting types and the resulting topics. The type and topics should be communicated within the invitation and repeated at the beginning of the meeting. Whenever there starts a discussion which does not belong to the meeting type you may remind the participants about the meeting type and topics and ask them if they really want to discuss this subject within this meeting.

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