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Meeting Invite Etiquette: 6 Best Practices

Follow these simple rules to make your meetings more productive and show common courtesy to all attendees.

By Tegan Samija  •   September 7, 2023  •   8 min read

Although often overlooked, how you send meeting invites to your team can set your meetings up for success—or failure. In fact, a successful meeting starts with an effective invite; your invite sets the tone for your meeting from the first time people hear about it. If your invite is well organized and considerate, then attendees will likely be prepared and respectful on meeting day. Although meeting invite etiquette may sound like common sense at times, the details are often forgotten and can lead to miscommunication, poor attendance, and a lack of preparedness for meetings. Read on for an overview of meeting invite etiquette, why it’s important, and how to follow it.

What is meeting invite etiquette?

Meeting invite etiquette is a set of best practices you should follow when sending out a meeting invitation to show courtesy to attendees and run a productive meeting. It covers details such as who to invite, how to find a time to meet, what to share ahead of time, and how to communicate the meeting to your team. Following proper meeting invite etiquette fosters respect in the workplace and is key to clarifying expectations for attendees in advance. While meeting invitation rules might change depending on the context of your meeting, there are some basic guidelines you should follow in any scenario to avoid meeting invite mishaps.

Types of meeting invitations

Most meeting invitations today are paperless and sent by email, message, or using a calendar app. If you invite someone to a meeting in person or on the phone, make sure to send a formal invitation following your conversation. The format of your meeting invitation can vary based on what type of meeting you’re running—here are some examples of meeting invitations you might regularly send:

  • A one-on-one invitation: you invite a single team member for a scheduled check-in (typically between a manager and an employee).
  • A decision-making meeting invitation: you invite a small group to make a call on an important business decision.
  • A brainstorming meeting invitation: you invite a larger group to generate new ideas around a particular topic.
  • A recurring meeting invitation: you set up a meeting and schedule it to repeat at the same time each week.

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The benefits of meeting invite etiquette

Fosters preparedness

By practicing proper meeting invite etiquette, you’ll ensure participants arrive as prepared as possible for your meetings. Providing the important details and sufficient time to prepare is key to running a productive meeting in which everyone can bring their best ideas to the table. Good meeting invite etiquette includes ensuring all team members can attend for the allotted time, everyone can view the agenda in advance, and the objective of the meeting is clear. Taking the necessary steps to prepare for meetings will also help you stay organized so nothing’s missed on meeting day.

Shows respect for attendees’ time

Showing respect for people’s time is essential for a productive and healthy workplace. Plus, if people feel like you don’t respect their time, they likely won’t want to attend your meetings! How you structure your invitations can have a big impact on people’s attitudes toward your meetings. Following proper meeting invite etiquette shows attendees you’re considerate of their schedules and appreciate the time they’re setting aside to meet with you. By managing the scheduling thoughtfully and providing all the necessary information ahead of time, you’ll ensure attendees feel your meetings are a valuable use of their limited time.

Reduces miscommunication

You’ve probably had the experience of attending a video call and realizing it was focused on a different topic than you originally thought or, even worse, that your attendance wasn’t actually necessary. Confusion around scheduling, who’s going to be attending a meeting, and the meeting’s objective can cause a hassle for attendees and lead to less productive meetings. Following proper meeting invite etiquette can go a long way to reducing poor communication surrounding your meeting, especially for remote meetings. When everyone’s aligned on the meeting’s objective, people will be more engaged and ready to contribute to the important conversations on the agenda.

Improves meeting productivity

Streamlining your meeting invitation process is a simple way to increase meeting productivity. Attendees can bring their full selves and their ideas to meetings when they know what to expect. Setting goals and objectives for each meeting, ensuring the right attendees are invited, and creating an agenda are must-haves for a meeting that yields results. Sending attendees the necessary information ahead of time also allows you to collect feedback and contributions to the meeting agenda before you get started. With proper etiquette, your meeting invites will be thoughtfully crafted to help things stay on track and empower everyone to contribute.

Best practices for sending meeting invites

1Only invite people who provide value

Meeting overload is a common challenge for teams and often a waste of company resources. One key strategy to avoid it is to only invite people to your meeting who are critical to achieving its objective. Additionally, having too many people in the room can cause distractions and slow down decision making, especially for virtual meetings. The number of people you decide to invite should be based on the goal of your meeting. 

To quote the Harvard Business Review,

“A small meeting is best to actually decide or accomplish something; a medium-sized meeting is ideal for brainstorming; and for communicating and rallying, you can go large.”

When crafting your invite, take time to reflect on what you want to accomplish as a group and whose attendance will have the biggest impact. Avoid inviting anyone who isn’t likely to make key contributions and use regular updates to keep the rest of your team up to speed on the key points covered.

Pro tip: Fellow’s Meeting Guidelines feature set helps you ensure only the most essential attendees are in your meetings. If a meeting has more than 7 attendees, Fellow will send the meeting organizer a prompt to remove additional attendees, or mark them as optional.

2Share the agenda

To give your meetings a clear purpose and clarify expectations, make sure to share the agenda ahead of time with all participants. Ideally, you should send it out at least 24 hours before the meeting so everyone has sufficient time to review and prepare. Make sure to include the main themes, talking points, supporting documents, decisions, and action items. For a balanced meeting, allow team members to add their own talking points to the agenda, such as questions they have or topics they’d like to cover.

In Fellow, agendas are automatically shared with all meeting attendees. You can also share the notes with attendees or people outside of your organization to remind them to review and collaborate on the agenda.

3Consider time zones

If your team spans multiple time zones, it can feel impossible to find a date and time that works for everyone! To start, make sure you know the location of all attendees so you can identify a time that works best for the most people. There are a variety of scheduling tools you can use to view the meeting time in different time zones to avoid confusion. Of course, there may always be some compromise, and not everyone will get their first choice of time. Consider rotating times for regular meetings to make it more fair for team members who do need to meet outside of their preferred times.

4Look at attendees’ calendars

The fastest way to find a meeting date that’s convenient for all attendees is to check their calendars and find out when they’re available. That way, you don’t have to ask people about their schedules and you can avoid unnecessary back and forth. Letting your invitees know you’ve checked their calendars before sending the invite also shows you’re being considerate of their time.

If you can find a block when everyone’s free, then you’re in luck! If not, try scheduling the meeting farther out and, as a last resort, check if people can free up additional time to meet. For recurring meetings, schedule them to repeat at the same time each week to ensure no one will be double booked.

Fellow helps ensure that meeting attendees with 20+ hours worth of meetings per week can still find time to get work done with the Meeting Guidelines feature set. With this feature, when a meeting is being created with an attendee who has 20+ hours of meeting that week, the meeting organizer is automatically reminded that the attendee is already highly booked.

5Include the purpose of the meeting

For a successful meeting, make sure to share the purpose of the meeting ahead of time with attendees. Outlining the purpose will help you clarify why you’re running the meeting and shape the agenda. It will also help people understand why they need to attend and prepare for the meeting. Take a few minutes to write out a meeting purpose statement—for example, “to brainstorm ideas for next month’s social media calendar.” Your purpose statement should clearly indicate why the meeting’s important and what it’s about. 

Fellow helps ensure every meeting has a clear purpose. With the Meeting Guidelines feature set, when a meeting is being created, meeting organizers are prompted to add a meeting purpose to the description of the meeting, to help boost meeting engagement.

6Avoid sending blind invites

Although it’s important to check people’s calendars before sending a meeting invite, you should never send the invite without getting attendees’ permission first. Sending an invite without asking can be offputting to attendees and come across as rude or inconsiderate. Additionally, it can be confusing; people might not know what the meeting is for or why they need to attend. Instead, send a polite email or message requesting the meeting, mention that you’ve already checked your invitee’s calendar, and include your suggested time based on their availability. Giving attendees a heads-up before sending an invite is a common courtesy and will help avoid miscommunications leading up to your meeting.

Parting advice

Following simple meeting invite etiquette will help make sure your meetings get started on the right foot. It’s also key to building a culture of respect in the workplace in which everyone feels their time and contributions are valued. In remote work environments, meeting invite etiquette is especially important for reducing meeting overload and giving everyone enough time to prepare. With Fellow, you can easily schedule meetings, automatically share agendas with attendees, and collaborate on talking points to help you lead your most productive meetings yet.

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