Aaahhh meetings. We’re always trying to have fewer, but we also know how important they are for connecting and sharing information.
That being said, there’s a careful balance to strike between a costumed Michael Scott dragging you in the conference room and doing valuable collaboration that helps a project succeed. Knowing when and how to use meetings is a big part of that.
In this article, you’ll learn more about the most common types of meetings and meeting etiquette and best practices.
Which team members should attend and how large the meeting should be
The goal of the meeting, such as making a decision
Your meeting agenda and if it matches the meeting length
Where the meeting will be (Zoom link or location details)
Whether attendees will be in person, remote, or hybrid (some remote and some in person)
Let’s dig into six meeting types and their use cases.
#1: Kick-off meetings
Why don’t we “kick off” this article with an explanation of kick-off meetings? (Do you see what we did there?)
We’re huge fans of kick-off meetings around here. They can help to eliminate other unnecessary meetings down the road. Kick-off meetings are so important at the outset of a project, especially if you’re working with other stakeholders.
Kickoff meetings also help internal team members, especially if people are new to your company or team. A kickoff meeting helps everyone get on the same page about the end goals, the budget, the resources, and how often check-ins will happen. All that information prevents future emails (hooray!) and meetings.
A meeting organizer might want to use a kickoff meeting if:
People who have never worked together before are now on a project together
This is the first time you’ve had remote meetings with an outside stakeholder
The project milestones or goals still feel unclear and need to be mapped out
#2: Planning meetings
A kickoff meeting is a one-time event, but planning meetings occur throughout the life of a project. Planning meetings can be scheduled weekly, biweekly, or monthly depending on the length of the project. The tighter the deadline, the closer the meetings.
Planning meetings commonly take place as part of bigger projects. The purpose of these meetings is to set up the plan for an upcoming project or initiative. This type of meeting can set the trajectory for the rest of the project.
One of the most important things to consider when conducting a planning meeting is how you’re going to document the final plan. Part of that may be in your meeting minutes.
Meeting minutes can help you create action items and action plans galore! They can also help clarify any later confusion about details decided during the meeting. You can create meeting minutes by hand or with the help of a transcription software. We’re a little biased, but we think automated transcription saves buckets of time and confusion in the long run.
#3: Retrospective meetings
Once the project is complete, use a retrospective meeting to recap and document. The retrospective meeting has roots in product development but can work in most industries.
The purpose of this meeting is to talk about what went well during the project and what could have gone better. That way, you learn from each project and continue improving.
You might use retrospective meetings when:
A big project has wrapped up
A company met or failed to meet a goal and wants to note any lessons learned
It’s the end of the quarter or the end of the year
A new person has completed onboarding
#4: One-on-one meetings
Many organizations encourage one-on-one meetings, which are usually between a manager and their direct report. Regularly scheduled touchpoints with your employees is almost always a good idea.
A one-on-one gives them a more comfortable way to share things they wouldn’t during a larger meeting.
In this meeting, your direct reports should feel free to bring up anything that’s on their minds, from ideas for the company to feedback for their manager.
Here are a few examples of things more likely to come up in one on ones:
Concerns around a team member’s behavior
Misunderstandings about directions or process
Questions about work expectations
Personal issues like sickness or outside stress
Requests for additional training or support
Send out a recurring meeting invite for one-on-one time so team members have time to decide what to bring up during this meeting.
#5: Stand-up meetings
Originating in product development, stand-ups are generally a short meeting each day where team members share what they did the day before, their plan for the day, and anything blocking their way. Stand-ups should unfold with these tips in mind:
All these meetings should follow a similar cadence.
Employees should give their updates in a sentence or two.
Leaders and workers should chime in if they’re stuck or need help.
While mostly used by development and engineering teams, stand-ups can help all types of teams. Especially when done well, they can help surface obstacles quickly. This allows the team to address them before they become a bigger problem.
#6: Innovation meetings/brainstorming meetings
Do you ever wish you could go off the agenda and use the collaborative brainpower in the room to bring up new ideas? You’ll love innovation meetings! Plus, you never know what gold nuggets might emerge from a brainstorming meeting. It could be a new product or ideas for upcoming corporate events and outings.
You can also use different brainstorming techniques during these less formal meetings. That way, you can find ways to engage newer teams or quieter people in your group. Sometimes, the quietest people in the room have the keenest insights!
Pro tip: Don’t limit the brainstorming process by trying to turn this into a decision-making meeting. You don’t need to commit to anything during the conversation, and you’ll likely find a relaxed, open format leads to great problem-solving meetings.
What roles should people have in meetings?
Now that you know all the kinds of meetings you might use and best practices for holding them, it’s time for next-level planning and consider meeting roles.
Here’s why you need to assign roles to the group of people on your meeting invite: If you don’t, Dave will spend 10 minutes venting about his home plumbing problems. (Pipe down, Dave!)
Whether they’re status update meetings or all-hands meetings, every group meeting needs a meeting leader. This is generally the person who called the meeting and understands its overall purpose.
The facilitator’s role can not be underestimated. They are responsible for:
Setting the agenda
Keeping the meeting on-track
Encouraging participation from everyone involved
PS: Leslie Knope is an awesome case study in facilitation excellence. Her team gets things done even though she regularly combats distraction (Andy), buffoonery (Tom), sarcasm (April & Ron), and disorganization (Jerry/Larry/Lenny/Garry.)
This role might not be as defined, but this person is responsible for actively contributing to the meeting. Their thoughts and input are valued, as they’re generally a subject matter expert for at least one aspect of the agenda. In an all-hands meeting, the manager is an active participant since they know the different departments and employees.
Some meetings include participants who are just there to observe the meeting’s proceedings. This could include a new employee, someone from a different department, or even a mentor or manager who joins to observe how their employee handles the meeting.
The decision-maker is another self-explanatory but crucial role. Many times, this will be the project sponsor or team leader. It could also be a committee.
You’ll want to clearly assign this role well in advance, as it can affect how people prep for a meeting.
So, now you’ve chosen the meeting type and named the roles, what’s next? It’s time to learn pro tips for making each meeting count.
What makes a successful meeting?
For a meeting to run smoothly, it should always include an agenda, action items for next steps, and summarized takeaways.
One of the most important and yet often overlooked aspects of a successful meeting is creating an agenda.
If you have an agenda, it’s easier to get back on track after a tangent or distraction. Or, if the conversation starts to deviate into another important topic, you can table your current agenda and schedule another meeting for its topics.
If you’re stuck, structure your agenda as a series of questions, such as:
What is the most important priority we’re working on?
Who are the stakeholders involved?
What outcomes do we want from this meeting?
Action items are next steps or milestones, like “Anthony: Confirm launch date with Carol by Wednesday.” Successful meetings have clear action items someone repeats at the end. Recapping action items helps make sure everyone knows what is expected of them.
Sometimes, this means setting aside a couple of minutes at the end of every meeting. When that’s not possible, sending them later in an email or over Slack is the next best thing. But in those situations, it can be very helpful to ask for confirmation from everyone assigned to an action item.
After capturing and reiterating the action items, add them to your team’s task management system or project management tool.
For any meeting, end with a summary of the key points discussed and any decisions made. As much as we try to communicate clearly, people often leave meetings with very different ideas of what took place.
So, you need to recap your meeting takeaways, or the most important things that took place in the meeting. Capture your takeaways digitally and send them to everyone involved.
We know remembering key takeaways and generally taking notes during a meeting can be a challenge if you’re also an active participant. So, Anchor AI makes it simple to review your transcribed file by including timestamps, names of meeting attendees, and action items.
Meeting Etiquette Rules
While business meeting etiquette can vary from company to company, some things are fairly universal. From being punctual to focusing and respecting others, you’ll make the workplace better one meeting at a time.
Arrive on time
It feels obvious to say this, but it isn’t obvious to everyone: Show up on time.
This one is very near and dear to our hearts. We consider punctuality a sign you respect your teammates. When you’re late, others have the awkward decision of waiting or starting without you. And if they start without you, it’s disruptive when you do eventually show up.
We know back-to-back meetings can certainly make it tough to arrive on time. So, we have a tip: Schedule your meetings to end 5-10 minutes before the hour so that people have that time to regroup and get ready for the next meeting. For example, if you would normally schedule a meeting from 2:00 – 2:30, schedule it for 2:00 – 2:25. And stick to the time!
You’ve been invited to the meeting room for a reason. Respect other meeting participants by showing up not just in body, but in spirit.
For example, don’t be the Stanley of the group, staring at your crossword each meeting. It isn’t a good use of time, and it’s disrespectful.
And keep in mind, trying to hide your inattentiveness doesn’t work. People can tell by your body language when you’re checking your cell phone. On video chat, they can see you scrolling Facebook in the reflection of your blue light glasses. Practice active listening as soon as the meeting starts. When the entire group follows good meeting etiquette, there should be no multitasking.
So turn off non-essential phone and app notifications and get ready for a productive meeting!
Follow company norms
This one can be tricky, especially when employees first join a team or company. It takes some time to recognize and adjust to how the existing team interacts in meetings.
To gauge company culture, watch the team during your first meetings. Do they talk over each other and have passionate arguments? Or does everyone take turns and provide their contributions individually?
Once you understand the culture, you can adjust accordingly. Of course, if you’re meeting digitally, don’t forget about virtual meeting etiquette basics:
Put your phone on airplane mode to avoid everyone hearing the notification buzzes.
Avoid side conversations altogether or mute yourself if one happens in your home.
Use good lighting and a quiet setting so people can easily hear and see you.
Get Set for Meetings
You officially win a #adulting award for making it to the end of this post about meetings! (As a prize, we’d love to offer up a blog post on the 15 Best Meeting Memes. You’re welcome.)
Meetings don’t have to be a slog when they have a purpose and follow an organized flow. The whole point of meetings is to get a group of people together to talk or work through a challenge. Whether it’s an online meeting or an in-person office meeting, the more you can prepare for it, the easier your meetings will flow.
Whatever kind of meetings your company schedules, now you know how to pick the right format, how to set up each meeting for success, and best practices for meeting etiquette.
If you want to level up your meeting productivity, check out Anchor AI. Anchor AI helps you transcribe meetings while noting action items, adding time stamps, and even clarifying speakers. With Anchor AI, you can give your teammates your full attention without missing out on their key points.
If you want Anchor AI to help you get more from your meetings, sign up today.