An important part of project success is effectively communicating status of the project to internal stakeholders. These project briefings are important whether you are the only one working on the project or when you are part of a team, and perhaps even the project leader. When a project has a high profile in the company people want to know what is happening with the project; what is going well; what is not going well and who are the players?
Be consistent with what you cover in meetings and even those casual discussions at lunch or around the water cooler. It is easier to keep control of accurate and consistent information than it is to correct conflicting information going around the office. If the briefing is more formal, follow the following tips to have an effective meeting. Keep them in mind for those casual briefings as well.
1- Make sure the right people are at the meeting. Do not leave someone out that really should be there and do not include people that are only peripheral to the project. Sometimes people are at the meeting because they represent a group of people impacted by the project. That is why these briefings are so important.
2 - Have an agenda. This is important for most meetings, not just project briefings. It tells everybody that you have put thought into the meeting and will use their time effectively. A “thank you for your time” helps too. Definitely consider having other team members take parts of the agenda. This shows that the team effort is work well.
3 - Make the meeting interactive with Q & A and open discussions. Begin with a brief introduction that includes setting the tone for interactions. Also acknowledge people that have made contributions to the project.
4 - Review the original goals, objectives and timeline for the project, including any adjustments that have been made along the way. Bring these project metrics back into the discussion as appropriate to keep the meeting focused. Compare where the project is right now to these metrics for a good index on progress.
5 - Focus the majority of the meeting on where the project is at that time. Highlight results that have been reached or have not been reached. Most projects have major components or stages along with input from different functional groups in the company. Give each component the appropriate time for coverage. A very effect approach is to state the current status and then refer back to any important information or results from earlier. Often people with scientific or technical backgrounds review a project in chronological order. Many times this is not effective and delays the reason people are in the room; what is the status now?
6 - What are the barriers or issues that need to be addressed? Mention important issues in the introduction to make sure everyone knows these need to be addressed. Also be sure to leave enough time to discuss these issues in as much detail as appropriate. If these topics are later in the agenda make sure time does not run out.
7 - Close the meeting with discussion about next steps, timelines, roles and responsibilities. Recap the meeting to highlight major take-always. In some circumstances a summary document can be sent to attendees to support consistency of information passed on to others.
In business today a lot of work gets done through a project structure. It is important that the work done in these projects is efficiently and effectively communicated to key stakeholders. Understanding what makes a good project briefing can be applied to many other business circumstances.