Project Management

4 Project Meeting Sins and How to Avoid Them

We’ve all been to a meeting that hasn’t been utilized to its full potential. Sometimes it comes from lack of attendee involvement; sometimes it’s just the senior manager talking everyone’s ear off. Either way, these meetings are ultimately unproductive. But how can you tell if your meeting isn’t up to snuff? In a post at A Girl’s Guide to Project Management, Elizabeth Harrin discusses four failings of meetings derived from Gerry Lewis’s Shine:


  1. Disengagement
  2. Wastefulness
  3. Disorderly conduct
  4. Lateness

Getting Burned

Disengagement is an easy sin to acknowledge and fix by asking yourself if your meetings seem to reach your audience. If eyes roll at the mention of engagement, then you’re probably doing your meetings wrong. Make sure there are things to engage your meeting members in a way that lines up with the culture of your workplace–but a pretty universally liked one is cake.

The second sin is wastefulness, which is when you are going overboard with how many meetings you conduct. Not every meeting needs to happen, and if there’s nothing new to say they can be serious wastes of time. If you can get the same thing done outside of a meeting setting, then cancel it.

Harrin quotes Lewis on disorderly conduct, who says that people can become easily distracted in a meeting:

“Keep in mind you don’t know what’s in their heads when they walk in. Have they come from an intense meeting where they had to present, or have they just finished a difficult call with a colleague or client? Are they preoccupied with something they are working on and consider your meeting an interruption to their day? Everyone is entitled to have things going on in their heads. We all do. So the sooner you are clear on exactly what you want from participants at the meeting, the more efficient and effective you will become.”

The final sin is lateness, and this can be addressed in part by just not waiting for slackers. Arrive and start your events on time, regardless of whether or not everyone else is there on time.

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