How to run a status meeting

I hate status meetings. Well, most of them.

On large projects, status meetings typically pull together a number of people to update leadership about progress. And while each person speaks, a portion of the audience zones out because their work is unrelated. Or worse, they multi-task and forget to tune back in, missing important information or wasting additional time while peers recap what was missed so a question can be answered.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

First, diagnosis:

  • When a status meeting is canceled, does it cause any disruption to progress? If not, they need improvement. Or elimination.
  • If you had to run the meeting in half the time, could you? (If so, cut the time now)

Now, let’s set it up for effectiveness:

1. Meet only to make decisions or clarify critical information. 
If your meetings is a bunch of FYI topics or general reports, handle that by email. People can read faster than you can talk.  Focus on issues that need input from the team.

2. Only invite those needed to make decisions.
Time is money. Don’t let FOMO influence you to invite the whole team. Everyone loses. 

3. Have contributors prepare in advance.
I had a client that would distribute a slide deck in advance of the status meeting. Each leader had a page outlining progress, scope changes, issues, and mitigation. It was brilliant. I could read what I needed, then use the meeting to clarify points that impacted my work. 

4. Publish minutes.
When you implement #1 and #2, accurate minutes become critical. You don’t have to write a lot. Capture the decisions and key points, and identify who the contact is if people need more info.

5. Get feedback
Ask your people to anonymously rate the value of the meeting. Get their suggestions for improvement.

Getting the structure right will almost guarantee a productive meeting, and your people will love you for it. 

Status meetings are often necessary. Meetings are also the most common waste of time. We all have too much to do in a day. Shake up your status meetings and give people the gift of time.

Thoughtfully yours, 
Jeff Skipper

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