8 Top Tips to Have Better and Smoother Project Status Meetings

Project Status Meetings

How often do you and your team get together for a project status meeting? Do they go as smoothly as you want them to? Are you hearing everything you need from your team in meetings, or struggling to get everyone on the same page? Is information being lost once you’ve finished the meeting? Our guide is here to help you achieve the best from project status meetings

Project status meetings are a very important type of meeting. Their goal is to review progress made so far on the project, update the team on how much progress has been made, any difficulties, what needs to be done, and in addition, give a chance for the team to meet up. Read the following best meeting practices, so you can get the most out of these reviews:

Have meetings only when necessary

project status meetings

Does this need to be a meeting” is something we should always be asking. No one likes interrupting their work to prepare and attend a meeting, and if the same information can be sent via slack or an email, then it’s absolutely a waste of time. 

Here are some questions you should ask before planning a meeting:

Does this review meeting need to happen? 

Perhaps it would be better to change it to an email and have a status meeting another time in the future when more progress has been made.

Why are we having it at this time?

Maybe you’re having them too often, or not often enough. Is it on the best day of the week or at the best time?

Why do we need these people?

Who needs to be at the meeting, does everyone need to be there? Get the right people to ensure nothing is lost.

If you answer these questions, you can figure out if the meeting is necessary, and if so, when you should have it and who needs to be there. 

Make sure the meetings are generally useful, that the topics at hand are actually needed to be shared in person, and people prepare properly, so they can go into detail that would be lost if it wasn’t a meeting. If you prepare properly for the meeting, you can make sure the meetings are worthwhile. This leads to the next tip.

Set regular meeting

status meetings

Project status review meetings are vital in project management. While having too many meetings is never good and a constant interruption to workflow may be harmful, it is still important to have these meetings at regular intervals. This way the team knows what’s going on, and you know how they are getting on with the project. The trick is to have them at a regular interval, which gives enough time between meetings to not interrupt the workflow, and enough notice to the members to prepare. 

Giving the correct amount of time between the meetings allows them to be more necessary, and gives a chance for a proper information exchange that would be lost if the meetings were too regular. Not regular enough, however, and the meetings will have too much time spent just explaining things that should have been shared before.  

Having meetings at the same time also allows everyone to prepare properly, so they can present their progress, any difficulties, and what needs extra attention. 

Every Tuesday morning for example can be a good way to set the tone of the week, and for everyone to share the progress they made the week previous. Mondays are days with higher amounts of staff off, and it is generally better to have a meeting in the middle three days of the week.  

Perhaps, you’d rather give the team more time, so they don’t have to spend too much time every week preparing to present their work. Whatever works best for you, but keep regular with the same interval of time between them. 

Limit presentations

project status meeting agenda

Ask yourself, do your project status meetings need lots of PowerPoint presentations? Do you need any presentations? How will your attendees share with the group?

These sorts of questions will help you know what kind of meeting you want. For example, PowerPoint presentations can be a great way to visually communicate information, but they require lots of work on behalf of the presenter and often people don’t pay attention. Having them too regularly will often detract from work, as they require time to make. 

Sometimes they may be necessary, but consider limiting them, and instead just give people a few minutes to explain their progress, and any important statistics can be sent online. 

Set a clear project status meeting agenda 

Set a clear project status meeting agenda
Remember the focus of project status meetings. This meeting is for everyone to keep up to date on the progress of the project. Create an agenda that gives everyone who needs to a chance to explain their progress and any issues they have faced. This agenda should be clear and easy to understand. 

Set a proper and effective agenda before the meeting and then share it with the attendees, so everyone knows what to expect, what to prepare for, and all the vital topics are covered. Any additional topics should be left to the end of the meeting, and left to be discussed elsewhere. No one wants a meeting to go on too long. 

Here is an example of the kind of agenda you may use:

Recap: warm up people, go over anything they may have missed, to get everyone on the same page

Timeline: go over how things have gone regarding deadlines, and what to expect next

Budget: how much money has been spent, how much needs to be spent?

Resources-what else do people need? Is there a proper allocation of resources?

Any other matters?

By focusing on these areas, the conversations stay focused on the important topics. Of course, this will vary on what your project is. A software development project will be wildly different to a phone sales project status, but this gives you an idea of the sort of structure to present for your meeting. You may wish to talk about KPIs, sales targets, staff turnover, or many other things, but this gives you an outline of an agenda. 

Remember, that software can help you create these and share them before, but we will get to that shortly! 

Facilitate

project status meetings

Running the meeting well is a key challenge. At the end of the day, as a project manager, you are a facilitator in the meeting. Here are some specific things you should do to keep it running smoothly:

Provide time at the start

You should give time at the start to recap. Even with the best management and communication, people may well have missed some information, not had time to fully read up, and will need to get chatting to catch up. Use the start to present the key information, and allow for some friendly chit-chat between people to warm them up. It may seem like a waste of time, but it allows for better meetings. 

Keep to the agenda

Focusing on the agenda ensures that all the important matters are discussed, and anything less relevant is discussed either at the end or elsewhere. Give everyone a chance to explain their progress, but focus on each matter in the allocated slot will keep information better organized and communicated. 

Allocate proper time

You may well need a presentation from other members, but everyone needs a chance to communicate. Don’t let anything run too long, or too short, to ensure that all key information is communicated and understood. Don’t let people and other topics go on too long, so as not to go in circles or get people bored. 

Ask clear questions

status review meeting

This is a tip on its own, although it ties into facilitation because it is so important! You, as the project manager, need to ask people the right questions. Here are some examples of the types of questions you should and shouldn’t ask:

Don’t ask:

“How’re things going on your end”

“What have you been doing lately”

“Just give me an update on your progress”

Do ask:

“What have you achieved last week, and what difficulties have you experienced?”

“Last week you said you needed to compile a report, did you manage to achieve this?”

“Can you provide us with the important updates on your work?”

The questions you should ask are specific, with specific goals in mind. They will provide the members with the opportunity to speak on their topic, and know what they need to share with the rest of the group. They may not realize what’s important, so this responsibility is on you to get that information from them. 

Track and collate information before and after

project status meetings

Before the meeting, you should make sure all information goes to you. If the members of the meeting are all emailing each other, and you, then there’s plenty of potential for information to get lost, and lots of time wasted emailing back and forth. 

Collate all the information before the meeting, and have everything prepared beforehand. Anything that needs sharing can be done so before the meeting to ensure everyone is up-to-date. This will save the time of explaining too much information in the meeting itself. 

After the meeting, you should have some informative meeting notes. Use these notes and action items and send them out to the rest of the team immediately. 

This keeps all communication clear, so nothing is lost. People can miss meetings, lose their attention, have interruptions and so on. Keep all the information at hand and communicate it. 

Record and Transcribe your project status meetings

project status meetings

Taking proper Meeting notes is very important. By using software, you are able to make detailed notes from recordings of the meetings, which will save you a lot of time. Software can also help extract the key information, so you can share with your team and clients. 

This is where a tool like Notiv can help. Notiv records, transcribes, and uses AI to generate a meeting summary that can automatically be sent out after the meetings. 

This way, every meeting is useful, no one misses anything, but you also don’t have to spend hours trawling through recordings and transcripts to get the key information, rather the program will do this for you! 

Everyone will be on the same page after the meeting, and anyone who missed the meeting will be brought up to date immediately. 

Conclusion 

We have given you 8 steps to have better project status meetings. If you follow these steps, you and your team will have significantly better meetings, and you can all stay on top of what needs to be done. It is helpful to get software, such as Notiv, to record, transcribe meetings and automate reports and action items, so each and every meeting becomes useful, and no one is kept in the dark. 

You can sign up for a 14-Day Free Trial to see how it can improve your meetings and productivity! 

Master Effective Note Taking Methods in a Day

note taking methods

Whether for seminars, trainings, or debriefings, note-taking remains a complex exercise. Note-making can quickly become challenging during these occasions and many become frustrated about not being able to jot down all the important points discussed during meetings. Even if you are a quick typer or adept at shorthand, there can be a huge gap between the pace of writing and the average speaking speed of many participants. This typically results in scattered and poorly organized notes.

By knowing and using some effective note-taking methods, you can keep track of important information in an organized manner. Taking notes improves your memory, enhances recall, and increases the retention of information. Regardless of your note-taking skills, simply leaving a quick note or ‘breadcrumb’ for yourself can improve your ability to recollect insights.

Taking notes is an evolving process, and different types of note-taking methods continue to trend on social media. For example, the recent surge in bullet journaling – a way to organize your tasks list, notes, all in one place – is not only popular among students but also freelancers and professionals.

Why You Should Take Notes

We are in the age of digital technology. The rapid advancement of innovation has permeated our daily lives and interactions, but its exposure has affected our cognitive abilities too. Our attention spans are shorter than ever due to information overload and over-dependence on tech.

master effective note taking methods 2

In 2015, Microsoft published a report “Attention Spans” – an attempt to understand the role of technology on human attention. It presented statistics about our ability to focus and claimed that the average individual now has a shorter attention span than a goldfish! While there is some debate over the exact figures, what we can agree on is that the way we consume, use and share information has changed with technology.

In the same study, Microsoft found that:

  • 50% of the respondents reached for their phone when they had nothing to occupy their minds;
  • 67% consumed news via social media;
  • 59% felt dependent on the technological devices they used daily;
  • 67% used multiple technological devices simultaneously.

According to Statista, over half of the world’s population is online.

master effective note taking methods

With instant access to computers and online platforms, it’s a lot easier to get distracted. All it takes is one notification or beep to undermine your concentration and cause you to miss something important. Here, note-taking can help to enhance your concentration and listening abilities.

Taking notes is a great way to track or schedule the time you spend on a task, while improving your focus and improving your productivity.

Your notes should highlight key details and points that you can review later without having to relive the entire meeting again. You may consider using a software to capture your meetings and conversations. It will help you save time, cut the review process down to minutes, and improve the amount of information retained.  Additionally, you will be able to effectively act on decisions to drive better business outcomes for your team and clients.

Whether it is your personal or professional life, effective note-taking methods play a critical role in managing and improving your lifestyle. Let’s dig a little deeper into how these fragments of knowledge can change your life and business.

Note-Taking Tips Before You Start

It is a good idea to differentiate the essentials from the superfluous when taking notes. Here are some key points to remember before you start:

master effective note taking methods 3

  • Make a plan: You should make an outline or structure to identify the main points. Include titles and subtitles such as introduction, conclusion, example. Your key to taking good notes is to focus on the idea, not the sentence.
  • Use a note-taking system: Follow a note-taking method that is suitable for the specific meeting. These methods keep you focused throughout the meeting and improve your attention span, comprehension and retention. Besides, you learn how to prioritize, note important ideas and discard unnecessary content to organize your notes effectively.
  • Start taking notes before the meeting starts: Your early preparations will help you capture the important details during the meeting. After making an outline/structure, fill in the main details:
  1. Date and time of the meeting;
  2. The purpose;
  3. The attendees;
  4. Milestones/ discussion items from a previous meeting;
  5. Any question(s) that are to be asked.
  • Don’t attempt to write down every word: You may want to capture the discussion word by word, however, with many participants and fast-changing topics, writing down everything is not feasible. To boost your efficiency, write short sentences with keywords as your focus, even using abbreviations and symbols to prepare quick and easy notes.

Ideally, your notes should represent a complete and concise outline of the most significant ideas and points during the meeting. Some teams record their meetings and conversations and get them transcribed to have an accurate record of their discussions. However, not everyone has the time to review each and every page of the transcript. Not only is reviewing the full transcript of a meeting a laborious task, but it also eats up a lot of professional time that could be spent on more valuable tasks.

Best Note-Taking Methods

If you’re working in a team, it’s often not enough to just take notes. What you record should clearly articulate deadlines and challenges, so the team can efficiently act on them. Effective note-taking is not about recording every word spoken; it is a process through which you crystallize the whole conversation into outcomes.

For instance, you can jot down the major items and discussion points as a list instead of faithfully transcribing entire paragraphs. Don’t worry about grammatical mistakes, you can easily revisit the notes and tidy them up before sharing them.

We’ll share with you some of the most well-known note-taking systems. These methods are easy to follow and allow you to take detailed notes while remaining attentive. They also help you to memorize and retain information better.

The Cornell Method:

The Cornell method is a specific system used to capture notes, outline priorities and review information. The format is simple and consists of a header, two columns and a footer.

In the header section, note the date on which we take the note, the conversation topic, reason for meeting as well as the name of attendees.

In the cue column, summarize the main ideas, keywords, and concepts, drawing diagrams if necessary. Make sure that the note is concise so you can read it easily later.

In the notes column, write the most important things to remember. You can also note some questions relating to the notes that you’ve taken.

Lastly, synthesize your meeting notes in a few sentences in the footer section. So when you review these notes later you will be able to quickly know what they refer to without having to read them in their entirety.

The List Method:

This list method is a simple and linear practice which, as its name suggests, takes notes in the form of short phrases or numbered lists. While it does not focus on information processing, it’s a great way to take quick notes because you don’t have to think too much about it.

Every new discussion point, fact or decision is listed on a separate line, numbered as you progress.

This method is a bit more organized than creating paragraphs for every discussion item and captures key details, but sometimes it will be difficult to recall major or minor discussion items from the numbered sequence.

The Outline Method:

With this note-taking skill, the main idea is to prioritize the material that you capture. Key ideas go to the left, sub-ideas are indented below and each idea is organized into a hierarchy.

This helps you understand how the information you’re discussing fits into the structure, and deepens your understanding of the bigger picture.

The outline method highlights main discussion items as well as the link between relevant points. It is easier to review these notes as all the points are recorded in an organized manner. However, this system requires that you capture the conversation accurately, which is impossible when following fast-moving conversations.

The Charting Method:

Charting is a classic note-taking method that uses a table, so you can connect facts and relationships between main topics easily. It uses columns to categorize and organize the information as you write it down, making it easy to access and recall later.

You can create columns to separate key pieces of information with appropriate headings. This method works best for people who attend many meetings and want to keep a running list of important discussion points for each one.

Mind Mapping:

This method creates a network of interconnected ideas. You start by writing the purpose/main discussion item in the center of the sheet, and then draw branches that represent the different connected points from there. You can mention any dates, facts or ideas/concepts that relate to the main topic.

The shared knowledge base of the meeting notes will help teams move a meeting conversation forward smoothly. If you’ve been taking notes, you can easily support the facilitator in keeping the meeting on track. When you’re able to engage and take effective notes, you are in a perfect position to recognize when the discussion has veered off-topic.

How to Take Good Notes at Work

Focus on facts and keywords

While taking notes in the collaborative environments and team meetings, you should focus on:

  • Facts (John is the project lead);
  • Deadlines (This project should be completed by Sep 30);
  • Decisions (The team should be divided into four parts);
  • Action plans (The next meeting will be led by the project manager in the next week);
  • Q&As (Take note of the questions brought up during the meeting).

Organize notes in a hierarchy

If you organize notes in various categories or color-code them, the notes are easier to distinguish and recall. Take some time to review the notes afterwards and ensure that everything captured is accurate.

Pay close attention to what the speaker says and ask questions

To make effective notes, clarify questions (if appropriate) to articulate speaker points accurately. Listen to the speaker and paraphrase what you hear.

Use technology as your virtual assistant

If you have one-on-one meetings, interviews, focus groups or other meetings that require you to be engaged instead of taking notes, the strategies mentioned above can be hard to implement. When you need to be engaged in discussion without distraction, you can use an app to help you capture those notes, meaning once the meeting is over, all you need to do is review.

The next time you are preparing notes, clearly define your goals, think about your environment and then tailor your note-taking plan based on that.

Leveraging Digital Note-Taking Systems

Most people don’t use pen and paper to record conversations, and some are leveraging digital tools to replace the handwritten notes. It’s not just about your preferred taste, it is about becoming efficient by using technology, storing it appropriately for future meetings, and sharing with others to keep them on track.

You might be reluctant to go digital and tired of staring at your laptop or tablet screens. However, there are meeting management tools that can record entire meeting conversations and let you actively participate in meetings.

One such tool is Notiv – an AI-based digital note-taking tool that fulfils the needs of companies with its wide range of features. Along with recording your voice and video conversations, it automatically transcribes them, creates a summary, highlights important phrases, and lets you add notes and assign follow-up tasks to share with your team or clients.

Notiv is an out-of-the-box note-taking solution that helps you participate actively in meetings and drive better business outcomes from your conversations.Want to experience hassle-free digital note-taking! Get started here.