Managing Effective Meetings


Virtual or In Person


Converting to Online Teaching
A series of short guidance articles for educators and institutions


By John Cable, Director

Project Management Center for Excellence
A. James Clark School of Engineering
University of Maryland

College Park, Maryland, USA

As the pandemic has forced us to meet virtually, I now hear complaints about being “Zoomed out”! People are past the fascination of learning how to physically setup and participate in a video conference and generally probably know the mechanics of proper lighting, camera angles, backgrounds, etc. But do they know the rudiments of running a meeting, starting with do we actually need a meeting?

There are many established forms of communication including written memos & reports, emails, telephone calls, and text messages are some of the examples. Each has an appropriate and effective use. We will go into this in much greater depth in an upcoming article on project communication. For now, the focus is either face-to-face meetings or virtual ones (ie videoconferences).

Do you spend too much time in meetings? How many hours per week do you spend? Are most of the meetings you attend engaging and energizing, or just a waste of time? Have you ever thought about how much labor cost there is in a meeting and how much money is wasted if the meeting isn’t productive?  Is the meeting worth it? When do you actually need the meeting? We have all experienced the regular meeting that is a carryover from the past, when it may have been needed or served a purpose. Or the non-routine meeting that wastes time and does not accomplish anything!

There are many different types of meetings, and they can serve a valuable purpose when planned and managed properly. Do you know how to effectively plan and manage them? This article will discuss both virtual and in-person meetings. The concepts for success are the same!

The first question you have to ask is “Do we need to meet?” Meetings should be used sparingly and only when necessary, but they certainly play an important role in communications and team building. Post-pandemic, video conferences will work very well for many purposes, but there will still be times when a face-to-face meeting may be essential.

Learning to be comfortable in both mediums directly leads to improved productivity. The primary value of face-to-face meetings is the ability to read body language and have side conversations at breaks or over lunch.

For the purposes of this article, I have organized the elements of a meeting into the following sections: Plan the Meeting, During the Meeting, and After the Meeting. We will discuss each one below.


To read entire article, click here

Editor’s note: This series of articles by the Director of the University of Maryland’s Project Management Center for Excellence provides information and advice for converting from traditional in-person classes to online teaching, based on their experience before and during the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020.

How to cite this paper: Cable, J. H. (2021). Converting to Online Teaching: A series of short guidance articles for educators and institutions – Managing Effective Meetings: Virtual or In Person, PM World Journal, Vol. X, Issue IV, April.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/pmwj104-Apr2021-Cable-managing-effective-meeetings-converting-to-teaching-online-series.pdf


About the Author

John Cable
Director, Project Management Center for Excellence
University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA


 John Cable is Director of the Project Management Center for Excellence in the A.James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland, where he is also a professor and teacher of several graduate courses in project management. His program at the University of Maryland offers masters and PhD level programs focused on project management. With more than 1,300 seats filled annually with students from many countries, including more than 40 PhD students, the program is the largest graduate program in project management at a major university in the United States.

John Cable served in the newly formed U.S. Department of Energy in 1980, where he was involved with developing energy standards for buildings, methods for measuring energy consumption, and managing primary research in energy conservation.  As an architect and builder, Mr. Cable founded and led John Cable Associates in 1984, a design build firm. In 1999 he was recruited by the University of Maryland’s Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering to create and manage a graduate program in project management. In his role as founder and director of the Project Management Center for Excellence at Maryland, the program has grown to offer an undergraduate minor, master’s degrees, and a doctoral program. Information about the Project Management Center for Project Management at the University of Maryland can be found at www.pm.umd.edu.

In 2002, PMI formed the Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Educational Programs (GAC).  Mr. Cable was appointed to that inaugural board where he served as vice chair.  In 2006, he was elected as chairman, a role he held through 2012.  As Chair of the PMI GAC, John led the accreditation of 86 project management educational programs at 40 institutions in 15 countries in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and the Asia Pacific Region. John was awarded PMI’s 2012 Distinguished Contribution Award for his leadership at the GAC.  He can be contacted at jcable@umd.edu.

To view other works by John Cable, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/john-cable/



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