Meeting Agendas – Perception of Professionalism

 I remember the first project that I managed.  It was an ERP project for a client and the existing project manager was leaving to take a position with another company.  At about 9:00 in the morning the PM said “Since I am leaving, why don’t you run the status meeting today?”  The meeting was for 10:00 and I said “sure, no problem”.  Well, the managing V.P. from my firm was in attendance that day.

 We had the usual 30 person status meeting.  I was a little nervous, but I felt the meeting went well.  After the meeting, the VP wanted to meet to go over how the meeting went and for me to get his feedback.  Well, it was a meeting I would not soon forget.  He read me the riot act!  He let me know, in no uncertain terms, that I NEVER conduct a meeting without a meeting agenda.  The perception was that I, and the firm, where unprepared.  He stated that there was not the FLOW of a properly prepared meeting.

 I learned my lesson that day, and he turned out to be one of my best mentors.  He was right, of course.  The next meeting, I had the Agenda prepped days in advance and ran it by him just to make sure that it was appropriate.

  • What is an agenda?
    • It is a list is a list of the individual items that need to be discussed to achieve the meeting’s broad aims
    • Agendas may be drawn up and circulated to all participants before the meeting, or they may be agreed at the actual meeting.

 

  • Why is an agenda important?
    • Helps you prepare
    • Communicates expectations for the meeting
    • Provides a mechanism for order and control
      • Limits the tasks and participants
    • Helps measure success/failure of a meeting
    • Describes your objective(s) for the meeting and creates an outline of the steps to get to the goal
      • Assigns time buckets and set time limits
      • Schedules items in order of importance

 Here is the Mind Map template that I use for any meeting:

 

My Meeting Agenda Template

My Meeting Agenda Template

 All this will fill out a standard  Meeting Agenda template:

 

Meeting Agenda

Meeting Agenda

I know this may seem simplistic, but this will make your meetings more efficient and will give the attendees a feeling of confidence in the meeting organizer.  As a PM, you represent not only yourself, but also the organization.  The perception of professionalism is built at the start and it is up to you to maintain it.

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8 Comments

Filed under PM Tips and Tricks, PM Tools, Project Management

8 responses to “Meeting Agendas – Perception of Professionalism

  1. Scott Duncan

    Other than that the meeting’s “form” and “flow” were not to his liking, did the VP have anything to say about the actual content and results of the meeting. Or was he, by implication, claiming the meeting failed because of no agenda, i.e., had to useful content or results?

    • Scott, very good question. I believe part of the shake down was to break in a new Project manager, but he did truly believe that not being prepared, by not having an agenda was perceived by the client as non=professional. The meeting itself, I believe I handled correctly, but in hindsight, he was absolutely right. I now make an effort to send out the agenda with the meeting request (if possible) and have printed Agendas for the participants in the meeting.

  2. I completely agree with your assessment. I have been in both kinds of meetings, agenda’s and no agenda’s. It is essential for a good productive meeting.

  3. Hi there,

    I do like your mind map for meetings – and the project charter one below.

    My site also encourages project managers to think about things like the purpose at the start of a meeting, using a graphical template. Let me know if you’d like one – sign up at http://www.makingprojectswork.co.uk and I will send you one in the mail.

    Regards,
    Penny Pullan PhD PMP

  4. Very Nice article if for no other than reason than it gets to a tactical level of PM application. One could argue each person has there own spin on meetings, powerpoint presentations, etc. but the bottom line is it sounds as if you learned something from the experience that you have carried forward in your career and that is very admirable. I’d be interested to know how the other meeting participants percieved the meeting in the article and the meetings afterward.

  5. nicoledefalco

    I like your mind map for a meeting agenda. The items to consider for each topic are so crucial to ultimately keeping a meeting on track.

    –Nicole

  6. Greg – nice blog. I too like the use of a mind map. I especially like that you state the purpose of the meeting up front – I’d even promote it to item 1. As PMs, we value clarity of goals and objectives from the outset of our project and meetings should share this approach.

    Thank you
    Mike

    PS: Your readers might like this different take on project meetings: Project Meetings in a Fast Moving Environment

  7. dan

    Do you use the same format for weekly status meetings?

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