For many reasons, meetings are a great tool for projects. Sharing ideas, making decisions, communicating information are just a few examples. Project meetings are typically recurring with a general purpose for each meeting such as a monthly risk management meeting or a weekly project leadership meeting. The meetings purpose usually remains the same but the topics and content will change from meeting to meeting. Some project stakeholders could be attending dozens of meetings each month. As the project develops and stands-up, meetings become more involved and more information is gathered, created, and shared. One of the best tools to ensure a meeting is effective is the meeting agenda and notes.
Agenda and notes can be part of the same document or two separate documents. Agendas could be created in Microsoft Word and notes could be taken in Microsoft OneNote or everything could be captured in Excel. The agenda will have information about the time and date of the meeting, who is supposed to be in attendance, and where the meeting will take place such as a conference room or virtual through a WebEx. The agenda will have a list of topics to be discussed and the duration expected for each topic. Associated with the topics might be the name of the owners of the content for each meeting topic.
The agenda is sent out prior to the meeting and notes are taken during the meeting. Organizations might have policies when agendas should be sent out but a general acceptance is at least 24 hours prior to the meeting.
During the meeting, notes should be taken about what is being discussed and who is having the discussion. A project status report is more official for documenting work completed but, meeting notes and agenda will give insight into reasons why decisions are made or why activities are not being completed.
Follow up and action items should also be a part of the meeting agenda and notes. As decisions are being made and follow up activities are being assigned, all of this information should be documented in the notes. By documenting the decisions and information, individuals can clearly see what has been discussed.
Something else projects should consider is having a uniformed template for agenda and notes. Many stakeholders will be participating in multiple project meetings and having a familiar look to the agenda and notes will help attendees easily find information.
Something which can be overlooked is taking attendance during meetings. The agenda should have list of attendees to document who is present during the meeting. Having the “roll call” will help when issues arise about decisions and can provide insight to who is driving meetings and who is not participating.
Documentation is an important aspect of any project. By documenting meetings with and agenda and notes, a project will have more efficient and effective meeting outcomes. Having meetings are a great tool for projects but for those meetings to be a productive, meeting agendas and notes will also need to be utilized.