If you are a product manager or a product manager consultant, meetings are probably comprising a huge portion of your time. Whether it’s a board of directors meeting, a team meeting, a strategy meeting or a simple morning huddle meeting, you will have to be a part of tons of necessary meetings if you want to successfully develop your product. Sometimes, it can even be as simple as a daily report to your manager or a one-on-one session with a team member. Simply put, as a product manager or a product owner, there will always be a meeting to attend.
With that in mind, a strong set of meeting skills is definitely needed in order to communicate efficiently, ask the right questions and conduct productive meetings that won’t waste precious time and resources. You will be buried in meetings, that’s inevitable. How you manage those meetings and what you get out of them, however, is something you can control. That’s where those meeting skills will come in handy.
If you’re a busy product manager who always nags about lack of time management skills, you should definitely check out these 10 meeting tips for product managers. By following these tips, you will be able to streamline your meetings, make them more efficient and productive and keep your attendees motivated. Let’s go!
🔵 Hold Stand-Up Meetings
Stand-up meetings are a fantastic way to get a quick status update from your team without wasting any precious time. There’s also a bonus – everyone is standing up, away from their desks, which speeds things up drastically. It can also be a great way to have a short 2-minute exercise session with your employees before getting down to serious business.
Standing meetings are the efficient substitute for a round-up team meeting. They preserve the initial goal of a round-up meeting – to go over updates, tasks and responsibilities but at the same time shorten the discussion time by keeping things as straightforward and concise as possible.
🔵 Invite The Right People
The innocent managerial desire to be inclusive and give everyone a fair chance of expressing their view, can sometimes backfire. There are types of meetings which can come with an open invitation to every member of the company. However, when there are serious matters to be discussed, make sure you are inviting the right people to your meeting.
Ask yourself who is absolutely essential for the meeting and whose presence is not entirely needed. You don’t want to waste anyone’s time, after all. The non-essential people (as unpleasant as it may sound) can cause more harm than good as they have the potential to lead to wrong ways and can turn out to be not so helpful in the decision-making process. One more thing – less people means shorter meeting time and better performance of the attendees.
🔵 Meeting Agenda
This is one of those meeting tips for product managers you think everyone knows about and there’s no need to mention it. Yet, there are countless managers who storm in a meeting with little to no preparation, wasting everyone’s time.
If you are about to schedule a meeting with your team, prepare an agenda and distribute it in advance to all invited members. A meeting agenda, simply put, is a list of topics that will be discussed during the gathering, a sequence of planned activities, or both. You prepare a meeting agenda to make sure the purpose of the session is known and is eventually achieved.
If you’re looking for help with constructing your agenda, there are plenty of free templates available on the Internet that can get you started.
🔵 Start On Time and End on Time
This is a pretty straightforward meeting tip – start on time and end on time. Meetings should be time-bound and if you see that time is running out, schedule another meeting instead of making everyone stay longer than it was originally planned.
Depending on the type of meeting, size of attendees, urgency, etc. you need to set a specific time required for the meeting. The meeting leader (or meeting time-keeper if there is a designated one present) should set a timer and take care of the time. He/She should also announce the time past and time left every 15 minutes.
🔵 Define Best Possible Time for a Meeting
If you’re a product manager who is also a meeting leader, you should know that one of your responsibilities is to pick the best time for a meeting. To do so, you have to consider everyone’s schedule, availability and even time zone if there is a global team working for you.
A good advice we can give product managers who are about to schedule a meeting is to avoid morning meetings. Some team members might need time to prepare for the meeting, go over the agenda once again, print a few documents and so on. Give them a little time to do so before the meeting.
Another good suggestion is to avoid scheduling meetings after lunch time as that’s when employees’ productivity levels are at their lowest. See what works best for you and experiment.
🔵 Use a Meeting Management Tool
One of the top meeting tips for product managers is to use a meeting management tool. With technology becoming an inseparable part of the global business economy, a product manager might be considered a fool if not utilizing the latest trends in product, meeting or team management.
Using a meeting management tool for your next team meeting can be very beneficial. Modern-day meeting management software, like Mombit, features dozens of unique and quite useful characteristics, such as meeting ROI calculator, free built-in meeting minutes, integration with project management tools, action items tracker and so much more.
If you want to conduct efficient meetings, going for a meeting management tool is definitely the right direction for you.
🔵 Consider Sending an Email
One of the best meeting tips for product managers is to not hold a meeting at all. If time is of the essence and you’re currently dealing with a lot of project-related things, you might want to skip this week’s team meeting and send an email instead. If the purpose of the meeting is to “make sure everyone is on the same page,” you can postpone it for next week. Contrary to popular belief, departments don’t need to meet every other day to align their goals, vision and objectives. As a matter of fact, attendees will actually thank you for not scheduling it in the first place.
Think of it this way – you went through all the hustle and bustle to organize a meeting with ten 6people to inform them of the progress of your product. If this week’s updates can be listed as bullet points, why waste precious time for a meeting rather than working on the product? Things will get even more complicated if you’re thinking of organizing a global meeting.
Think of a meeting as a mini business investment. Weigh the costs in time, resources and money. If the meeting won’t justify itself on those terms, don’t hold it at all and send a nice email to everyone involved with the project.
🔵 Recap Decisions at the End of the Meeting
Messy meetings produce messy results. Different people have different ways of expressing themselves and that’s why miscommunication and workplace conflict can sometimes happen. As a busy product manager, what you want out of every meeting is clearly-defined goals, assigned action items and responsibilities, as well as concrete decisions being made. That’s why one of the best meeting tips for product managers we can give you is to recap decisions,
To make sure all attendees leave the meeting knowing what to do and by when, spend a few meetings once the meeting is over to summarize all which the group has agreed on, including action items, deadlines, decisions, etc. This way, there will be no confusion and everyone will know what’s expected of them.
🔵 Send a Post-Meeting Recap
In addition to summarizing the decisions made during the meeting at its end, it’s also useful to send everyone a meeting recap email. Even better, if your secretary took down notes during the meeting or used meeting minutes, you can approve them quickly and have it sent to all attendees. Team members and stakeholders who couldn’t attend the meeting will also have a chance to catch up and see what was decided during the meeting.
Make it a standard policy. Send out post-meeting email, including key takeaways. When everything is recorded and accessible to all team members, there’s little chance of someone blaming their failure to complete a task on “miscommunication” during the meeting.
🔵 No Smartphones
This is one of those meeting tips for product managers that might irritate some of your team members but it’s a must if you want to run productive meetings. You took some of your precious time to hold an important meeting and discuss serious project-related issues. To do so, you need your employees’ full attention and cooperation. You simply can’t have it if someone is scrolling through Facebook or constantly checking their email or chat.
Make sure everyone knows your opinion on smartphones during meetings and is following the no-device policy.
There are plenty of other meeting tips for product managers to follow and consider if you’re on the path of improving your team meetings. Still, implementing even just a couple of the above mentioned tips for product managers will guarantee you better results.
Do you have a favorite meeting tip?
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