#AskASenior: How can I make my project meetings more productive?

By Mohamed Afiq Bin Mohamed Ismail, SMU School of Information Systems

Many of us spend so much of our time having group meetings without actually doing any team work. Too often, you’ll find yourself staring into your computer, researching your project work. And by ‘researching’, I mean Googling for project-related trivia to break the awkward silence, or just scrolling endlessly on Facebook.

During my first year in SMU, I spent many meetings discussing why we were meeting in the first place. From my second year and beyond, I can safely say that my group meetings have gotten a lot more productive. Here are some insights into how you can have more fruitful meetings, too.

The point of group meetings is not just to meet, but to collaborate. The actual process of meeting only takes seconds – book a group study room, reach it on time and there you go, you have met. However, true collaboration requires the conscious effort of your group to Communicate, Commit and Cooperate.

It is vital to communicate the agenda of every meeting that you organise. Going without an agenda is like going for a blind date – anything can happen, but you are likely to be disappointed! Get your group to set the agenda together and figure out two things: whether there is a need for a meeting, and whether the suggested meeting duration is appropriate.

Make a commitment to put away the distractions: the phones and computers, and the buzzing of endless texts (mostly regarding other upcoming group project meetings, which will all be as inefficient as the one that you are currently in). Have the courage to tell your group mates to commit fully to the meeting by closing their laptops and putting away their phones. If you find that they are not listening to you, you could even text them since they are already on their phones.

When all this is done, your group will be able to fully cooperate like a team. These 3Cs will definitely help you to start your group meetings well, and – even better – to end them productively.