1. Be prepared
Always prepare thoroughly for steering committee meetings and produce a flawless presentation. People know immediately when you are well prepared for a meeting and when you are not. When you are prepared, your credibility goes up; when you are not prepared, your credibility goes down. When you are prepared and know the detail of your project you come across as honest and credible and your stakeholders will trust your opinion. You will be able to easily answer their questions and you won’t have to give vague answers or promise something which you can’t keep.
2. Understand the emotional journey
Consider the emotional journey you want to take the audience through. Which emotional state is your sponsor and key stakeholders likely to have at the beginning of the meeting and which emotional state would you like them to have at the end of the meeting? If you want them to be impressed for instance, focus on highlighting things that will impress them. If you want them to feel that the project is in a safe pair of hands, show them that you have assigned mitigating actions and owners to all risks and issues.
3. Communicate at the right level
The project’s steering committee will consist of senior managers who are working to busy schedules and who deal with a multitude of issues and decisions on a daily basis. Make the meeting as simple and pleasant for them as possible by summarizing the project’s progress and by only providing detailed information where important risks, issues or decisions need to be discussed. Your stakeholders will love you for keeping the meeting focused and for not wasting their time.
4. Promote achievements and successes
Ensure that the presentation clearly shows all major accomplishments and the good work which the team is doing. Take on the role of an ambassador for the project and put it in the positive light it deserves. When highlighting achievements, make sure you mention the benefits of these achievements to the end users. Speak the language of your client and show that you understand their business. Include timelines which show what has been delivered to date and which main products and milestones are still outstanding.
5. Know your numbers
Impress your stakeholders by tracking the project’s key performance indicators. Know how much money the project is burning per month, what the estimate is to completion, and how much scope you have delivered compared to plan and budget. Include these earned value metrics in your presentation and insert simple graphs and charts to make the information more appealing and readable. Have the detailed financial figures at hand in case you need it. Be honest about the numbers and clearly state where the project is not on track.
6. Be on top or risks and issues
Always include the project’s top 5 or 10 risks and issues in the presentation to the steering committee. Make sure you have analyzed each item in detail and assigned appropriate actions and owners to each entry. Ask the senior stakeholders for advice and guidance on risks, issues and change requests that have the potential to significantly affect the project’s schedule, budget or quality. Provide them with all the information needed to make a decision. You will score points for bringing significant concerns to their attention and for demonstrating that you have the project’s best interests at heart.
7. Record actions and decisions
Always take minutes from the meeting so that people who were unable to attend can stay informed. Taking minutes also helps you reinforce what was decided and which actions were agreed upon and by whom. Have someone double-check the accuracy of your memo or email before you send it, but be sure to distribute it within 24 hours of the meeting taking place. Your steering committee will respect you for being an effective person who keeps taps on decisions and actions – including their own!
To download a PowerPoint template which you can use for your own Steering Committee meetings, register to get access to the RESOURCES page. It’s completely free of charge.
You can also find out more about how to set up steering committee meetings and communicating effectively with your senior stakeholders by purchasing The Project Management Coaching Workbook - Six Steps to Unleashing Your Potential. Read the great reviews on Amazon!
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