Making Your Project Team Meeting Successful

You have been assigned to lead an important project, you know the team members and understand the objectives and resources. Now you are ready to have your first project team meeting.

How can you prepare to ensure that the meeting goes well? This initial meeting sets the stage for the entire project. Below is a reliable process on what to do and how to prepare for your project team meeting.

What to do at the First Project Meeting

What happens at the first project team meeting sets the stage for how the team performs throughout the project lifespan…moreover, everyone on the team is responsible for getting the team off to a good start.

Taking the time to solicit the “Voice of the Team” before you launch into project tasks is an excellent way to avoid the Team Leaders biggest first meeting mistake and to achieve these critical objectives:

  • Identifying who on the team can (and would like to) handle different project tasks; which increases the likelihood that members will do those tasks.
  • Aligning members’ personal and business goal with the goals of the team; which makes members more likely to commit to the work of the team and therefore show up for meetings and complete assignments.
  • Reducing members’ needs to restate and reestablish their credentials during subsequent team meetings; which saves meeting time.
  • Giving members an opportunity to get to know each other; which builds trust the critical feature in effective

Team Leader Checklist – Running the 1st Project Team Meeting

‡       Briefly, welcome members to the meeting.

‡       Conduct an opening explanation of why we are here, why now, and how this is important.

‡       Follow with a formal introduction, a description of the project and why the people in the room were chosen for this project skills, talents and knowledge each person brings.

‡       Ask members to share their goals, expectations, experience, potential role contributions to the project, questions, and concerns. (Also share yours). Record this on a flip chart. If people volunteer ideas for how they would like the team to behave (i.e., norms and procedures), record these also…but do not force.

‡       Deal immediately with any questions and concerns members may have.

‡       Review the project charter and strive for high-level agreement.

‡       Brainstorm a list of project stakeholders, for example, those that will be affected by the project or whose support and commitment you will need. You will work on analyzing stakeholders and planning to get their support at the next team meeting.

‡       List action items from this meeting, including who, what, and when.

‡       Set agenda and time for next meeting.

‡       Ask for feedback on this meeting, thank everyone and close.

Buffalo Niagara Partnership Executive Exchange: Mike Cardus

Team Member Checklist – Participating in the 1st Project Team Meeting

‡       Participate and take some time to learn something about your team members.

‡       Share your goals, expectations, qualifications, experience, potential role contributions, questions, and concerns about the project. If you have ideas for how you would like to see the team behave (its norms & procedures), mention these also…but don’t insist that everyone agree to those yet.

‡       Ensure your questions and concerns are either dealt with at the meeting or are tracked on the “parking lot” to be addressed later.

‡       Participate in the review of the project charter and give your honest opinion and ideas.

‡       Help brainstorm a list of potential stakeholders, those that will be affected by the project and whose commitment and support you will need. The team will work on analyzing stakeholders and planning to get their support at the next meeting.

‡       Volunteer for action items from this meeting as appropriate.

‡       Enter the next meeting date and time in your calendar.

‡       Give feedback on this meeting.


Biggest First Team Meeting Mistake

At the first team meeting, leaders want to get to work on project tasks immediately. Sometimes team leaders who might be willing to spend time building the team are pressured by members to “get on with it.” As a result, little time is spent giving members the chance to get to know one another, build trust, voice expectations and goals, establish credentials, discuss desired roles, raise concerns, etc… That approach is viewed by some as a waste of time instead of a necessary step in creating high-performance teams.

When teams have problems later, everyone gets frustrated, and things come to a halt.

Why Does This Happen?

It is easy to see what happens when you do not accomplish task-related work at a meeting: you still have to do it, and you start to fall behind on your project schedule. It happens immediately, and the connection is obvious. Since there is so much to do, nobody wants to waste time, the need to go, go, go, becomes overwhelming. Who has time for this “touchy-feely stuff,” right?

It is much harder to see what happens when you do not take the time to build the team. Sometimes the effect is not seen for a while. Moreover, most people do not recognize the connection between not spending time building a team and subsequent problems with that team, such as people not attending meetings, tasks not getting done on time, time wasted on pointless discussions, inability to make decisions, people misbehaving, etc.

Mike Cardus BNP Executive Exchange Facilitator

Some consultants feel as if they are heroes called in to fix something broken, like the knight on the horse. That is quite tragic – to treat people as if they are broken when the teams, leaders, and people have done so much to get to where they are. Mike forms a partnership with all clients to accept where you are, listen to what’s working and understand what isn’t to create a process with you to improve your company’s profitability. Learn more at –