How to Hold a Successful Project Debrief

When wrapping up a project, it’s easy just to let the work be marked “completed” and move on to the next big thing. However, a project debrief is essential to learning from the experience and growing as a team. Conduct a successful Project Debrief by setting aside the time to review and discuss.

Prior to the Debrief Meeting

In preparation for the debrief meeting, have team members submit feedback in a way that allows all team members to feel safe being candid. Depending on the team dynamic, this may look like a survey form, contributing to a shared document, or simply sending an email to a point of contact. Then consolidate all feedback to be reviewed during the session. This prework not only saves time but also helps prevent groupthink during the session.

The 3 Critical Questions

Ask team members to answer these three questions to ensure the Project Debrief is a productive use of time.

  1. What went well and contributed to the success of the project?
  2. What hindered the project workflows?
  3. What improvements are suggested for next time?

Set the Agenda

A key component of a successful Project Debrief meeting is keeping the agenda tight and streamlined. The purpose of gathering together should be a constructive discussion of the feedback and to celebrate a job well done. Below is a sample agenda for a Project Debrief:

  • Review Objectives and Goals
  • Review Responses “What went well and contributed to the success of the project?”
  • Review Responses “What hindered the project workflows?”
  • Review Responses “What improvements are suggested for next time?”
  • General Discussion
  • Celebrate Wins and Contributions

Tips

  • Keep the Project Debrief positive by moderating the conversation toward constructive feedback.
  • Truly celebrate by providing food and thank yous.
  • Share the feedback and wins via email, highlighting key contributions from the team members.

A project management tool like ClickUp can help keep all the feedback and notes in one place. It’s the perfect system for your full project lifecycle, providing support with sharing documents, chatting, building task lists, and more. Learn more about ClickUp here.

How to Hold a Successful Project Kick-Off Meeting

Starting a new project? Don’t jump right in until you’ve held a kick-off meeting. A Project Kick-Off Meeting is essential to set expectations, address concerns, and engage all parties in the goals and objectives. Without this meeting, your project may veer off the intended course, take more effort than necessary, or may not even achieve its goal. A Project Kick-Off Meeting ensures you start with the end in mind and direct everyone’s energy toward success.

Why should you have a Project Kick-Off Meeting?

A Project Kick-Off Meeting is the opportunity to evaluate the project from all angles. Bring together your team (or sit down solo!) and work your way through the entire project from start to finish considering the players, tasks, communications, and timelines. This meeting also opens the door for team members to gain clarity, share concerns, and buy into the purpose and expectations. As a bonus, details get a heavy evaluation – setting your project up for huge success.

Who should be involved?

You, colleagues, clients, and other stakeholders who will be participating in the project life. Please note that you can have a Project Kick-Off Meeting even if you’re running a project solo. 

What should be covered?

Depending on the scope of the project, these meetings can be quite quick or take a bit of time to cover. Prior to the meeting, consider how robust the project will be and plan the meeting time accordingly. Below is a sample agenda of the Project Kick-Off Meeting

  • Introductions – who is in attendance and will be involved?
  • Context – what is the project history?
  • Objectives and Goals – what are you hoping to achieve?
  • Scope and Plan – what are the timeline and deliverables needed to achieve the goals?
  • Roles and Responsibilities – who is doing what?
  • Communication – how will you will together, including check-in meetings, tracking, and document sharing?
  • Questions – what clarifications need to be made?

Once the Project Kick-Off Meeting is complete, share notes from the session with the team and schedule check-in meetings. If you need a tool to keep everyone on track and communication, ClickUp is the perfect system to share documents, chat, build task lists, and more. Learn more about ClickUp here.

Make the Most of Networking Events with a Post-Event Plan

If you’ve ever had a conference hangover, you know how hard it can be to reenter the real world and not be exhausted and overwhelmed. Between the physical recovery, digesting all the valuable information, and following up on conversations, simply put, it can be a lot. Then stack all of this on top of your everyday life obligations, and it’s hard to truly reap the benefits of the event. To ensure you get the most out of networking and professional development events, create a post-event plan

Here are three simple ideas to get you started:

Physically Recover

Traveling, getting up early/staying up late, walking around, engaging in conversations, and generally exerting energy can drain you. Know your limits and set aside time following the event to recover physically. This may mean taking the next day off of work or simply keeping your calendar clear of obligations.

Do a Debrief

Within a few days of the event, while everything is still fresh, go over your notes. Review big ideas and resources, then create a game plan to implement your favorites. Capture to-dos on your task list and set due dates. This is also a great time to go through all the takeaways from the conferences, such as gift bags and digital downloads, and look up any referenced materials, such as a good book recommendation. Also, how did you do on the goals? Check-in and see.

Tip: Schedule the debrief on your calendar immediately after you buy your ticket to ensure the time is set aside.

Follow Up

You made all those great connections – don’t let them go stale! Connect on social media and send emails to connect. Schedule coffee dates or video chats to follow up on conversations or simply continue connecting. 

Tip: It’s likely the people you’re reaching out to also made a number of connections, so give context about how you met, what you talked about/how you connected, and what you’d like to gain from the relationship.

And finally, if you’re into sharing your experience on social media, the perfect time to write that post-event social or blog post about your key takeaways is within a few days of the event. 

Whatever your goals for a networking event, setting aside time and energy to properly process your time and learning will ensure you make the most of it. 

Tips to Be Present at a Networking Event

One big challenge with going to networking events is staying present and engaged. With the outside world constantly threatening to pull our attention and energy away, it’s important to create boundaries that keep you focused on the task at hand – learning and networking. If you want to maximize your experience at a networking event, be present.

Here are a few tips for setting effective boundaries so you can make the most of your time at a networking event. 

Set Your Out of Office

And go fully out of the office. Don’t check your email throughout the day. Don’t schedule calls for your breaks. You can’t be fully present with possible new connections or your learning if you’re constantly connected to work and other obligations. Prep your team and clients for your absence just as you would for a vacation and fully sign off.

Get Out of Live Share Mode

Unless you’re in the breaking news media industry, you don’t need to live tweet/post/share from the event. Additionally, focusing on your posting may cause you to miss some seriously good content. Instead, take notes during presentations and post your favorite tidbits later. Speaking of…

Batch Your Posting and Sharing

Resist the urge to post on social media or send learnings emails to your team members during presentations and workshops. Instead, identify gaps in the agenda or wait until the end of the day to share your favorite pictures, videos, quotes, and learnings from the day. However, don’t do this during meal times – that’s prime networking time! Select a time when you can truly evaluate everything you have to share and put together thoughtful bits.

A final tip, review your networking event goals throughout the day to course-correct your focus and energy. Learn how to create your networking event goals here.

How do you maintain your focus during a networking event? Let me know your tips below.

Find More Success at Networking Events by Setting Goals

Are you stuck in an unfruitful networking cycle? Attend a networking event. Exchange information with a bunch of people. Gain a bunch of social media followers. Never connect with those followers. Feel like something is missing. Sign up for another networking event… and the cycle starts over. Imagine how different this would look and feel if you set goals before attending the event.

To make the most of networking events and the relationships you form, set goals for your time there. This may seem simple, but creating a few clear goals will ensure you’re spending time and energy in the right conversations and presentations.

Prior to the event, write out three goals you hope to accomplish. You may find it helpful to have the agenda at hand so you can align your goals with specific speakers, workshops, or other attendees. 

Make your goals clear and specific. A few ideas for goals to get you started:

  1. The type of connections you want to make
  2. Specific people you’d like to speak with and the topic to cover
  3. Skills or topics you want to learn more about
  4. Questions you’d like to find the answers to 
  5. How you want to feel during and after the event

A word of caution – be wary of quantifiable goals such as “get business cards from 10 potential customers.” These types of goals may taint the development of authentic relationships and also may create the impression of “collecting leads.” Instead, focus on creating genuine connections with people based on mutually beneficial needs/wants.

Finally, keep the list with you at the event as a reminder of your goals. You can even check them off as you go! 

Armed with your list of goals, it’s time to network better. Check out this post for tips to level up your networking skills.

3 Tips to Network Better

Networking events can be intimidating, exhausting, and somewhat frustrating – just by pure nature. However, all of these feelings are exasperated if you don’t seem to get what you need out of the event. The three simple tips below will help you network better so you can build your contacts list and better relationships.

Speaking of…

Build Relationships – not Leads

If you’re going into a networking event giving off the “I have something to sell you” vibe, you’re going to crash and burn. Networking events are all about human connection. Instead of focusing on who will buy from you, focus on making connections to build mutually beneficial relationships. How can you help each other? 

Venture into New Territory

Variety is the spice of life, and you truly never know what a new experience can bring your way. If networking has gotten a little stale for you, try a new event! Here are a few to consider: industry conference, leadership conference, local chamber of commerce event, virtual workshop, in-person workshop, age/gender specific networking happy hour, and so much more. Reach out to peers and friends to see what types of events they enjoy going to, or check out local event websites. Be brave and try something new!

Give Out Business Cards

Hear me out on this – business cards are still the easiest way to share information at an event. Not only does it allow you to hand over all your information at once, it gives the recipient something to remember you by for follow-up from your conversation. And finally, remember that social media is a noisy place, so instead of giving someone your Instagram handle, a business card gives them all the information to invite them into a more productive relationship.

Networking is tricky for almost everyone. Use these three tips to get better at building relationships that help you achieve your goals. If you’d like to take your skills to the next level, understanding your personal preferences and strengths can help you gain the confidence to make the most of every networking opportunity. Learn more about how I can help you here.

5 Email Templates You Need to Use

No one – I mean, no one – likes writing out the same information in emails over and over again. Not only is it fundamentally a time waster, but if you’re anything like me, you’re also often trying to remember how you said it that one time when you were particularly thorough and eloquent. And then you spend about ten minutes looking for that specific email rather than just trying to recreate it. See? Giant waste. Save time and frustration by creating email templates to help with your everyday communications.

Traditionally, we’ve written out full email templates to help with workflows and relay important information. However, the game has changed a bit in systems, and you can now create “snippets” or small pieces of text that can be dropped into an existing email body without replacing the whole email. This is available in systems such as Gmail, Streak, and ConvertKit.

If your system doesn’t allow for convenient email template creation, while it’s a little clunkier, I encourage you to still write out the language in a conveniently located digital document or even in a task management system (like ClickUp.)

Below are a few suggestions for templated language to create for your emails.

If you’ve released yourself from the scheduling game by enlisting a scheduling assistant, such as Calendly or Acuity, template the language into a snippet for easily inserting into emails. Multiple meeting options? Create a template for each type of scheduling link to save time hunting down the correct one.

Marketing for Upcoming Events

Running events or webinars take a lot of marketing, and sometimes you just want to drop that information into an email. Create a template of the key event information, including time, date, registration link, etc. 

Lead Magnets or Free Resources

Always giving away valuable content? Create snippets to share your favorite resources with a bit of context and a link. This also works great for affiliate-linked products and services you frequently recommend.

Service Summaries and Descriptions

While our websites are usually comprehensive, there may come a time when someone just needs a quick summary of what you do and how they can work with you. Enter: the email template of service descriptions. Type out your offerings, a short description, and price points. Then when someone asks, you’re ready.

FAQs

Kind of a catchall suggestion here, but if it’s a frequently asked question, then it needs templated language. This could be details about a specific service offering, policies for your programs, or marketing language. These email templates work well to capture those “oh, I like the way I wrote that” moments. 

While you’re in your inbox creating these templates, why not also take a moment to clean it out? These 5 Easy Steps can be done in micro-moments to organize your overwhelming inbox.

How to Start Using Automation in Your Business with These 2 Tips

Automation got you overwhelmed? With all the technology today, it’s no wonder business owners are constantly struggling with where to start! You know you should automate “stuff” in your business, but most people either don’t know what automation really means or where the first palace to start is.

I’m going to simplify this so you can easily understand how automation really works and how it can help you in your business.

But before we get into that, what is automation?

Automation just means reducing how much you have to create or do by hand. Said another way, turning the manual into automatic using features built into software and apps that we use every day.

Here is how you can start automating things in your business:

First, don’t push it. There’s a lot of advice out there about what you “should” automate, but if you implement too quickly or aren’t paying attention, you could cause a bit of a mess and stress yourself out. Remember that the more you automate, the more could be out of your line of sight, so make sure whatever it is you’re going to dive into is something you’re comfortable with.

Second, start small and tackle tasks you repeat regularly. I always suggest starting with creating templated emails that you send all the time. This could be for frequently requested information. Also (hot tip!), you can create templates for just snippets of information as well. It doesn’t have to be a full email. Another popular place to start is with a scheduling assistant tool, such as Calendly or Acuity. Dipping your toes in with these two tools will teach you how automation functionally works while building your confidence to try other forms.

Once you get comfortable, identify other small ways automation may help you and work from there. 

Automation works best when it serves a workflow or process. If you’d like help thoughtfully designing your workflows and optimizing your tools to support you (including using automation), my Strategic Operations Intensives can get you results fast.

What automation tools are you currently loving?

Efficiency vs. Effectiveness : What is the difference?

Though often used interchangeably, efficiency and effectiveness are two different sides of accomplishing your goals. It’s vital to understand the difference and how these two sides play together to ensure you’re doing your best work and achieving your goals.

Let’s start with some definitions.

Efficiency is getting something done with the least amount of time, money, and effort during the process. Think of it as the HOW. How you work – your process, the tools you use, the amount of time and energy utilized.

Effectiveness is the degree to which something is successful in achieving a desired result. Think of it as the WHAT. What gets accomplished – the number of tasks, the gain over the current state, the gap (if any) between what you set out to accomplish and where you landed.

Efficiency vs Effectivness

Without one or the other, you and your team will be spinning your wheels and creating a burnout environment. Shortcomings in efficiency will lead to misuse of time and energy, feelings of overwhelm, and frustration with the process. If we don’t keep our eye on effectiveness, we run the risk of landing far off the mark of our goals, leaving a feeling of not accomplishing anything.

How do you ensure you’re honoring both sides?

Intentionally addressing efficiency and effectiveness with three checkpoints.

Identify and leverage natural work styles

How are you working? How is your team collaborating? Is it in alignment with natural work and communication styles? Identifying work styles allows you to leverage them toward achieving goals in the most efficient manner possible, reducing friction and increasing ease.

Ensure you have the appropriate tools to carry out the work

Are your tools primed and optimized to achieve your goals? Is it time to upgrade or streamline? What about your strategy roadmap? Is it clear enough that you understand exactly where you need to go? Clarity on the goal and having the right systems in place will keep you on track to land at your desired goal.

Consistently evaluate the people, processes, and technology for possible improvements

Review your workflows regularly to course-correct. This will keep your efficiency and effectiveness in alignment well beyond the initial project work. This blog post can help guide you.

Need a partner? My services can help you increase individual and team efficiency and effectiveness through individual and team development and advisory operations consulting.

How to do a Quarterly Process Review

For effective operations management, it’s prudent to review your workflows regularly. Routine reviews ensure that your processes, systems, and people management are aligned to current goals and environmental needs. 

All workflows are designed with the best, most well-informed intentions, but the real work ends up looking different than expected. Often, there are unforeseen circumstances that change the way things get done. Other times, the designed workflow is at odds with how we prefer to work. And sometimes, as we get into the flow, the goal changes. Whatever the cause may be, it is highly likely that after three months of operating, your workflow needs to be adjusted to accommodate the current state. 

While it may feel cumbersome to add yet another to-do to your recurring task list, a Quarterly Process Review is a simple, quick exercise to evaluate and make adjustments.

How to do a Quarterly Process Review:

Ask the following questions in order for each workflow.

Does this workflow still support what needs to be accomplished?

If the answer is yes, congratulations! Move on to the next workflow you need to evaluate.

However, if the answer is no, identify why.

  • Has the goal changed?
  • Have your environmental conditions changed?
  • Are clients asking for something other than what you’ve been providing?
  • Is there friction between the people, process, or technology?

Evaluate and diagnose the root cause of why the workflow isn’t supporting what you’re trying to achieve.

What changes need to be made to bring the workflow into alignment?

Once you know the “why,” you can move on to the “what.” What changes need to be made? It may be as simple as modifying the language in an email template to as complex as redesigning the client journey. The goal here is to identify the specific parts of the workflow that need to be changed and the action items to do so. 

Need help here? Learn how to identify where your workflow is broken here.

What resources (people, processes, or technology) are needed to support the workflow going forward?

How are these updates going to be executed? Identify the resources that will be needed to bring the workflow into alignment. You may need to get your team on board to make changes or hire a contractor. You may need to redesign the process flow. Or you may even need to consider a different software platform. Whatever it may be, thoughtfully consider the correct order and pace of implementation and how these changes will impact the rest of your operations.

Operational efficiency and effectiveness require you to consistently be connected to how the work is getting done. If you’re experiencing friction or frustration with your processes, I offer advisory services to help diagnose and strategically plan solutions to bring you back on track. Learn more about how we can get you to a place of ease here.