Is it possible to make project meetings fun? Maybe not, but I do know we can make them more productive and meaningful -- and probably more enjoyable by following steps.
What meetings can be, though, are worthwhile, educational, effective, timely and productive. Sadly, most aren't, but even if they are, that still doesn't make them fun. No food!!! I am dead set against food because it makes people sleepy and unproductive and gives the facilitator the reputation as the cupcake queen and you don't want that. Ever.
So let's consider five things that a meeting can be and how you can make yours that way starting tomorrow.
What makes a project meeting worthwhile? One that ends up being a good use if everyone's time and gets the important stuff taken care of. In order to ensure this happens the project manager needs to go into it with a well planned and detailed agenda. And should send it out in advance to make the meeting as worthwhile as possible by ensuring everyone will come prepared - or at least they won't have a reason not to be prepared.
Project meetings are educational when everyone leaves with an up to date picture of where the project stands today, where it's going next and what the key issues are. Make sure your meeting covers that and the status report reflects that.
Your project meeting will be at its most effective when you get the highest level of participation and attendance. Follow good meeting facilitation protocol, conduct it in the morning, not the afternoon when people get sleepy, avoid feeding the attendees and stick to the agenda.
A timely project meeting is regularly planned and scheduled and starts and ends on time. Stick to a meeting schedule every week and don't cancel it when there isn't much to discuss...just shorten it. Canceling it makes you look flakey and you never know when a key piece of information might fall through the cracks as a result.
The productive project meeting is one that gets the job done. When people leave and it's all over you know that the key information was exchanged, the necessary decisions were made, and there isn't a need for a follow up meeting just because stuff didn't get covered. Don't be that project manager who needs three meetings to cover what should be handled in one meeting just because you weren't organized enough to keep the discussion flowing and keep the meeting on track and productive.