I’m sure you’ve sat in meetings where you go round the table and give updates on progress. You could argue that it’s not the most interesting or effective use of everyone’s time, but it is used in many settings. For example, if you have a team of project managers meeting and it is useful to share a couple of points about the work that is going on, as the rest of the team wouldn’t necessarily be aware of it while they are busy on other projects.
However, I also know that many people hate the ‘creeping death’ of going around the room for updates. Below are a few tips from my experience that will help you in your next ‘round table update’ meeting.
If your team meetings or PMO meetings have a section where you go round the table giving updates about progress and what you’ve achieved and so on, then you should know it’s coming. It might be specifically called out on the agenda or just part of your normal meeting practice.
Spend some time before the meeting – just a few minutes – writing down a couple of bullet points so you have something to say when called on. These can be about your projects, successes, blockers or dependencies on other projects that would be worth highlighting to the group.
If you aren’t given a time limit, assume you have hardly any time! Three minutes feels like a very long time to the other people having to listen to you, so I would suggest less than that if you can, especially if you have nothing much to report.
If you are the first to go, you set the unofficial time limit for the group, so it’s even more important to be speedy.
Don’t repeat what another colleague has already said or things that the team already knows or has heard about. For example, if you said a milestone was completed when you all met up last week, you don’t need to say it again. It’s worth keeping track of what you did say for this exact purpose – I often find people repeat status updates that we covered last week and I have to assume they don’t remember telling us about it previously.
It's also common that several people with the project office will be working on the large projects, and the person who goes first may well share the big successes or challenges for that project. You don’t need to say them again; just say, “To build on what X has already said about the Y project,” and share something different. Make a note of a couple of different updates you could give and cross them off your list if anyone else says them first!
Focus on specific things. Talk about what issues you are having or successes the team achieved. Share where you need help or what you know they are most interested in. Focus on things that overlap with other projects, for example, where you share resources, as these are the information points that will help others in the team manage their own work more successfully.