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Organizing and Running Effective Project Development Meetings

Organizing and Running Effective Meetings Project Classification
Capital Improvement Projects Safety Projects Asset Management Projects Maintenance Projects
1.0 Why Are Project Meetings Necessary? x x x x
2.0 Meeting Formats - In Person, Virtual, Hybrid x x x x
    2.1 In-Person Meetings
x x x x
    2.2 Virtual Meetings
x x x x
    2.3 Hybrid Meetings
x x x x
3.0 Planning Successful Meetings x x x x
4.0 Executing Successful Meetings x x x x
5.0 Post-Meeting Wrap Up x x x
6.0 Common Meeting Types in Project Development x x x
7.0 Associated Articles x x x x


The full definition for terms included in this article (listed below) can be found in the HKP Glossary.

  • Brainstorming 
  • Virtual Meeting 
  • Hybrid Meeting 

1. Why Are Project Meetings Necessary? 

Meetings afford project team members who occupy different roles and who have different subject-matter expertise the opportunity to collaborate, brainstorm, share information, and formulate a plan of action to ensure that project development is efficient, effective, and — ultimately — successful. Beyond facilitating project work, meetings help participants get to know their colleagues, build community, and establish a shared sense of purpose.

For Project Managers (PMs), organizing a meeting is a challenging but critical task. Participants get the most out of meetings that are well-organized and have defined goals. When attendees walk out of a thoughtfully run meeting, they are clear on next steps, understand how responsibilities are distributed among team members, and grasp how the team will collaborate to deliver a successful project.

Although meetings play a valuable role in project development, people can become frustrated when they take part in meetings they perceive as unnecessary or that are improperly run. As such, before calling a meeting PMs should carefully assess if one is necessary or if another means of communication may be more efficient to address the issue at hand. No hard and fast rules can dictate if a particular situation warrants a meeting. PMs build up their intuition over time about when meetings are the best option to facilitate communication and information exchange.

If a PM is uncertain whether a meeting is needed, a good starting point is to review Section 6, which introduces meeting types often encountered during project development. The HKP article Common Project Team Meetings provides more information on topics addressed at these meetings. After looking at this material, if a PM is still uncertain whether a meeting is required, they will benefit from seeking the advice from their Project Development Branch Manager or senior PMs.

This article walks PMs through key considerations related to meeting scheduling, format, organization, and execution and provides tips for deciding if a meeting is needed.

2. Meeting Formats – In-Person, Virtual, Hybrid 

KYTC relies on three meeting formats — in-person, virtual, or hybrid (where some people attend in person while others participate on a platform such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom). Each meeting format has limitations and benefits. PMs should be mindful of when deciding on the best option.

2.1 In-Person Meetings

Some issues are best addressed through in-person collaborations. To determine if an in-person meeting is the most appropriate format, PMs should consider the following factors:

  • Number of participants
  • Planned activities (e.g., brainstorming)
  • Complexity of topics that will be addressed
  • Required outcomes/deliverables

In-person collaborations are a good solution for meetings that will address a range of complex topics and require sustained interactions between all participants. During in-person meetings participants communicate through body language, gestures, and facial expressions, which are typically lost in virtual meetings but which may be critical for understanding someone’s perspective.

2.2 Virtual Meetings

In-person meetings are not always possible, especially if participants are spread across multiple locations or have professional and/or personal obligations that prevent their attending. Virtual meetings provide a good alternative in these cases and have the virtue of broadening representation as well as the range of voices that can be heard. Some participants may feel more comfortable engaging in a virtual meeting than during in-person meetings. Agendas for virtual meetings should include instructions for logging on and describe meeting etiquette. PMs should:

  • Request that participants keep their cameras turned on.
  • Use the gallery view option to establish a sense of community and promote dialogue.
  • Have participants display their full names on the screen.
  • Request that participants mute their microphones when they are not speaking.
  • Provide instructions for how to ask questions.
  • Utilize the chat functionality by asking a team member to oversee and help manage the communication.
  • Assign someone as the note taker to document the meeting minutes.

2.3 Hybrid Meetings

When some meeting participants are in a shared physical space while others attend virtually, the main difficulty PMs negotiate is the engagement challenge — focusing their attention on both virtual and in-person attendees at once and ensuring everyone has the opportunity to participate in the conversations. 360-degree cameras (e.g., Meeting Owl) are valuable tools for improving hybrid meetings. These cameras zoom into the face of whomever is speaking at the in-person session, which helps virtual participants see people they are engaging with. Holding the in-person component of a meeting in a room that has a large screen on which to project virtual attendees is important for sustaining engagement between all participants. 

For hybrid meetings with many attendees, the PM should consider having a facilitator monitor virtual participants, make sure their voices are heard, and document their contributions. If a PM cannot secure a facilitator, they need to take extra care to regularly check in with and engage virtual attendees.

3. Planning Successful Meetings 

Meetings often fail when participants feel they are unproductive or unneeded. Before scheduling a meeting, PMs should determine if a meeting is the best way to communicate information to participants, support collaborations between team members, and accomplish stated objectives. If achieving these goals without a meeting is possible, the PM may want to explore other methods to address issues with the project team. Once a PM decides a meeting is the way to go, the checklist in Table 1 can guide preparations and lay the groundwork for success.

Table 1 Meeting Planning Checklist
Determine the meeting format (i.e., in-person, virtual, hybrid)
  • Consider the purpose of the meeting, as well as activities, when deciding which format is the best. For example, sustained brainstorming may lend itself to in-person or hybrid formats.
Determine who needs to attend the meeting
  • Only extend invites to people whose attendance is necessary (e.g., due to their subject-matter expertise or project role).
Once an invite list is finalized, gauge the availability of all participants
  • A Doodle Poll is a good way to see when everyone is available.
  • Once the poll closes, select a meeting time during which as many invitees as possible can attend.
For meetings with an in-person component, reserve a space (e.g., conference room) able to accommodate the anticipated number of participants and activities.
After selecting the date and meeting time, send an Outlook invite to participants. If possible, circulate the invite at least two weeks before the meeting date.
  • Include a Microsoft Teams or Zoom link for virtual and hybrid meetings.
  • For hybrid and in-person meetings, specify where the physical meeting space is at (address and which conference room).
Establish a game plan to give all attendees — from the quietest to the most outspoken — an opportunity to make their voices heard.
  • Best practices are described at the end of this section.
At least 2 weeks before the meeting, distribute plans, project-related information, and other materials participants will consult during the meeting.
  • For KYTC attendees, send a ProjectWise link.
  • For non-KYTC attendees, distribute plans and documents via email or OneDrive.
At least 1 – 2 days before the meeting, circulate an agenda that:
  • Clearly describes topics participants will discuss
  • Lists planned activities, expectations, and intended outcomes
  • Specifies required preparation for all participants
If possible, group agenda topics by subject-matter expertise and provide a time when they are estimated to be needed. For long meetings, this gives participants the option to attend only those segments relevant to them and assists in effectively managing time.
At least 1 – 2 days before the meeting, establish who is responsible for taking meeting minutes. Minutes are critical because they serve as the meeting’s official record, document what was discussed at the meeting, note decisions made, and list action items.
  • If a consultant is working on the project, they are typically responsible for meeting minutes. If not, the PM or their designee records the minutes.

Coordinating interactions between participants is one of the most challenging aspects of conducting a meeting. Some people are outspoken, while others are more reserved and reluctant to engage. PMs can adopt several strategies to ensure quieter attendees have a chance to participate. Implementation of these strategies should begin during the planning stage. Waiting until a meeting begins to figure out how to get everyone involved is not effective.

Good strategies for bringing quieter participants into the fold include:

  • Assigning them a lead role in the discussion of a particular topic. Let them know ahead of time (preferably two weeks) that they will help lead the discussion. This gives them ample time to prepare.
  • Having a one-on-one conversation before the meeting. Explain they were invited to the meeting to share their expertise with the group and that the project team values their knowledge and experiences. Let them know they will be called on when issues related to their expertise arise because the team needs their input.
  • Planning small group discussions in which all group members participate and write down ideas to submit to the PM for consideration by the entire group. Working in a small group provokes less anxiety than having to speak in front of the entire meeting.
  • Encouraging the use of chat boxes to submit ideas and questions in meetings with a virtual component.

 Side Note

A PM may retain a trained facilitator to lead a meeting or subset of activities during a meeting. During project scoping these services could be added to the advertisement. If this need becomes apparent after the design has started the PM should discuss with the Location Engineer the procurement options available. Facilitators are a good option when:

  • Participants are working through contentious issues and need a disinterested voice to guide discussions.
  • The PM wants the meeting to take the form of a structured workshop or brainstorming session.
  • The PM needs to focus on their role as a participant in a meeting and wants an impartial person to lead.


4. Executing Successful Meetings 

Thoughtful and deliberate planning sets up a meeting for success, but PMs must execute on their plan for a meeting to achieve its stated objectives. The checklist in Table 2 can assist with conducting meetings.

Table 2 Meeting Execution Checklist
At least 15 minutes before the meeting starts, verify the computer that will be used to retrieve project documents and/or run Microsoft Teams or Zoom has a stable internet connection and that all programs are operational.
  • For meetings with an in-person component, verify that the screen used to display documents and/or virtual participants is functional and ensure a connection device (e.g., HDMI cable) is available.
When the meeting begins, circulate a sign-in sheet.
  • Consultants are typically responsible for this task. For meetings with a virtual component, an attendee list can be retrieved from Microsoft Teams or Zoom.
  • A sign-in sheet with pre-printed names for anticipated attendees with a check box for in-person or virtual will speed the sign in process. Blank rows can be provided for substitute / additional attendees.
The PM should keep in mind meeting ground rules:
  • All participants should treat one another with respect.
  • Talking over one another is unacceptable and counterproductive.
  • Contributions must be on point and to the point.
  • Participants must minimize technological distractions (e.g., smartphone use) unless they have an urgent matter to attend to.
Clearly articulate the meeting’s objectives.
  • Define success as achieving all of the meeting’s goals in an efficient manner.
Before discussions about agenda items commence, verify the person responsible for the meeting minutes is prepared to take notes.
During a meeting, participants may identify novel topics or challenges that need to be resolved. Establish an approach for handling these issues. This entails:
  • Assigning responsibility for resolving the problem.
  • Specifying expected actions.
  • Requesting that findings or outcomes be communicated to relevant project team members as soon as possible.
Be respectful of everyone’s time. Keep the meeting moving forward and on topic. Do not overshoot the scheduled end time.
Before adjourning, verify that:
  • All meeting objectives were addressed.
  • Everyone is clear on their responsibilities and next steps by identifying/reviewing action items.

5. Post Meeting Wrap Up 

Once a meeting concludes, the PM or consultant should finalize the draft meeting minutes and circulate them to all participants as soon as possible. Because minutes function as a meeting’s official record, they must be succinct, clear, and comprehensive. Readers should be able to completely understand what occurred at the meeting, what decisions were made, who is responsible for resolving action items, and how the project team intends to move forward.

When distributing meeting minutes to attendees, specify that they have seven business days to submit comments. The PM or consultant responsible for compiling the minutes should review comments and revise accordingly. Once the meeting minutes are finalized, they should be distributed to all attendees and documented in ProjectWise.

6. Common Meeting Types in Project Development 

Throughout project development, PMs will organize and coordinate several types of meetings. Table 3 lists the most common meetings. PMs should keep in mind that meeting requirements vary by project type. For example, a capital improvement project requires most of the meetings listed in Table 3 but they are rarely needed for maintenance projects. On asset management and safety projects, the level of project complexity influences decisions about which meetings should be held.

Table 3 Meeting Type
Pre-Design Conference
Public Meeting
Preliminary Line and Grade (PL&G) Meeting
Final Joint Inspection Meeting
Joint Utility Information Meeting
Pre-Bid Meeting
Miscellaneous Project Team Meetings

The HKP article Common Project Team Meetings provides in-depth information on each meeting type, including what topics are discussed, who should be invited, which materials should be prepared in advance (e.g., plans, typical sections), and expected outcomes.

7. Associated Articles

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