Be Ruthless (In a Good Way) When Running Meetings

Your optics as an effective program manager is put on display during meetings

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The Scenario 🙋🏻

Picture this scenario: you’re asked to own a meeting between a dozen stakeholders for a new program you’ve just inherited. Your boss tells you a couple details about the program:

  1. You’re a brand new PGM (Program Manager) that just started

  2. The program has notoriously demanding stakeholders

  3. The program is already off-track with no identified path to green

  4. This meeting has a history of going over time

  5. The previous PGM was rather “ineffective“ according to the stakeholders

So what are the next steps? How do we run this meeting effectively and make sure every single stakeholder knows you OWN this meeting?

Simple. Be RUTHLESS. No, I don’t mean in an evil dramatic way, but I do mean in a stern and assertive way fo sure. Keep reading to learn more.

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How to Be Ruthless (in a good way) during meetings👀

No joke. People will notice very quickly if you can run a meeting well and since you’re the newest addition to the team.

  1. Define a purpose or desired outcome for the meeting in the description

  2. Set an agenda with timeboxes in the calendar invite description

  3. Categorize agenda items as the following:

    1. Inform - no actions, just awareness for stakeholders

    2. Decide - a decision is required for this agenda item

    3. Accept/Reject - a decision has been made previously, yes or no?

    4. Discuss - unstructured discussion, caution around timeboxing

  4. Record the meeting for posterity and perfect recall of what someone said.

  5. Send a pre-read of the agenda items the day before the event

  6. Be judicious about invitees. Mark people as optional or leave them off entirely if they don’t have to join

  7. Quickly review the agenda at the beginning and solicit for any additional agenda items (in case they forgot to add anything to the agenda)

  8. Mention names explicitly for each of the agenda items.

    1. eg. “Jessica, where are we on this item?“

  9. Display a visual agenda with line items on the screen for everyone to visualize and focus on

  10. Display the meeting minutes notes on screen as the meeting takes place and you proceed down the agenda

  11. Call out action items explicitly when they are identified

    1. eg. “Danny, I’m gonna follow up with on this offline“

  12. Timecheck explicitly to make sure it doesn’t run over

    1. eg. “Time 3 minutes left on this item“

    2. eg. “Time check, 5 minutes left before we have to drop“

  13. Send a recap with action items via email, Slack, Teams, etc.

Et voila!

And that’s it. This concludes our quick rundown of how to be ruthless in meetings will establish your mettle as a program manager🤷🏽. Now get out there and tell people you’ll “follow up with them…. or else.

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See you next time 👋🏽

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