Program Meetings


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All program managers need to strategically choose program communication processes. Unfortunately, technology has complicated the decision-making process for program managers, providing a myriad of methods for communication. Because there are so many choices, confusion often results. Our ability to extract value from technological advances in communication methods lags the rate at which new methods are created.

Our 5 part Guide to Program Communication Processes will ensure your program and project communication is streamlined and helps you achieve strategic goals.

Part 1 of 5: Notifiership
Part 2 of 5: Program Meetings
Part 3 of 5: Team Charters
Part 4 of 5: Virtual and Global Teams
Part 5 of 5: Program Presentation Basics

Part 2 of 5: Program Communication Processes – Program Meetings

A meeting is a key element in the way a project team, a program, and an organization make decisions. However, poorly run meetings are a major source of frustration and a contributor to apathy. You can minimize the effects of poorly run meetings by adhering to the following program meeting guidelines:

1. Be clear about the purpose of the meeting. People should always know why they are coming and what the anticipated outcomes are for the meeting.

2. Have a complete agenda. Complete means it identifies all the items that will be discussed with time estimates for each item and with the items in priority order. The agenda should clearly indicate the decisions that need to be made. A good agenda is also issued ahead of time and can require pre-work for meeting participants.

3. At the meeting, make sure people follow the agenda. Enforcing this at the program level frees and encourages project managers to do it at their level. The way meetings are run is often an organizational culture issue that is reflective of the leadership.

4. Do not let one person dominate the meeting or agenda.

5. Do not let unnecessary people crash a meeting. Before a meeting, you can ask each person what his or her purpose is for being there. If someone’s purpose is not grounded, politely ask that person to leave.

6. Start and end the meeting on time. This shows respect for everyone’s time and is indicative of a well-construed and well-organized meeting.

7. Use time pressure during meetings. Time pressure can be a good thing at meetings because it forces focus. Having stand-up meetings without chairs is an effective and commonly deployed tactic for creating more efficient meetings.

8. Use odd starting times to help people remember the meeting time. For instance, start the meeting at 1:07 p.m. Seven minutes is odd, and it provides a window of time for people who were in a meeting that ended at 1 p.m. to arrive on time at your meeting.

9. Lock in points of agreement. The meeting chair needs to always be on the lookout for these points and take time out to confirm in a round robin fashion that all individuals are in agreement. This locks in the agreement of the entire group. Acknowledge disagreement, address it if needed, and then move to agreement. Locking in points of agreement is important for two reasons:

  • A lot of time is often wasted in meetings discussing something everyone agrees to.
  • Seeking verbal commitment and agreement invokes the psychological principle of consistency, and people will consider carefully before going back on their verbal commitment. This keeps the meeting from going in circles.

10. Record meeting outcomes. These can include minutes, action items, assignments, and whatever else needs to be documented and tracked. The advent of technology means that meetings can be digitally recorded provided that the organizational culture and the team allow it. When you’re working with multiple suppliers and organizations, creating audio and video recordings of design reviews and other major milestones provides a concrete record of the event and helps drive accountability.

11. Religiously follow up on action items.

Once your team has decided on their plan and process, PPM software can help you execute that process. WorkOtter helps you successfully execute your program process strategy for project success. Get a demo of WorkOtter and see how we can make your program management effective.

“The Handbook of Program Management: How to Facilitate Project Success with Optimal Program Management, Second Edition” by James T. Brown is a copyrighted work of McGraw-Hill and McGraw-Hill reserves all rights in and to the Content. ©2014 by McGraw-Hill Education. Purchase the book on Amazon.