As a manager, you run a variety of meetings to check-in with your team, make progress on different projects, and come up with new decisions and ideas. Meetings are an essential part of doing business. Yet many leaders lack the skills and knowledge to run them efficiently. Luckily, you came to the right place. This guide will teach you the different types of meetings you need to know and best practices to optimize your time and keep your team focused, productive, and accountable.
Here are 9 types of meetings every manager should know about (and master):
- Onboarding meetings
- Weekly team meetings
- One-on-one meetings
- Decision-making meetings
- Problem-solving meetings
- Brainstorming meetings
- Project kickoff meetings
- Feedback and retrospective meetings
- Team-building meetings
What is a business meeting?
Before we dive into different types of business meetings and how to run them effectively, let’s bring it back to basics: What is a business meeting, anyway? A recent article by Lifesize provides a very clear definition:
“A business meeting is a gathering of two or more people for the purpose of making decisions or discussing company objectives and operations. Business meetings are generally conducted in person in an office, however with the rise of video conferencing technologies, participants can join a business meeting from anywhere.”
Business meetings aren’t always in the meeting room but can be conducted via video conferencing or by simply having other team members on the phone line who work remotely or are based in a different area.
9 Types of Meetings and How to Run Them Effectively
1 Onboarding meetings
Taking the time and right approach to onboard a new employee is crucial to that person’s (and your team’s) success. After hiring someone to join your team, it’s important to schedule an onboarding meeting to kick off their training and provide them with the best experience possible. As Erin Baker, a psychologist and leadership coach said in an article for Slack:
“When an employee comes on board, there is a lot to learn about the company and their role. Onboarding meetings can be great for helping people understand the organization’s structure, what projects are coming up, how their role and work will fit into the broader picture, and to set early expectations for what the person should do in their first few weeks and months.”
Create an onboarding checklist to give your new teammates a sense of progress and certainty from being able to see what they’re expected to be working on.
2 Weekly team meetings
As a manager or team lead, weekly team meetings provide the ideal scenario to make group decisions, celebrate wins, and check on your team’s mood.
As Lara Hogan argues in the book Resilient Management, the benefits of team meetings are vast:
“Meetings are there for you to both push information (share news, changes, key messages) and pull information (gather feedback, check the team’s temperature, and hear fears and rumors that haven’t made it to you otherwise), especially when that information requires additional context.”
Whether in-person or remote, recurring team meetings can help your team stay aligned, discuss weekly priorities, and make progress towards your goals.
Use a weekly team meeting template to keep your team meetings organized and on track!
3 One-on-one meetings
We are big fans of one-on-ones here at Fellow. (We even wrote the definitive guide to one-on-one meetings)! But why are these meetings so important for managers and leaders?
One-on-ones help managers build trust, share expectations, and set career goals with their direct reports. As Kim Scott argues in the book Radical Candor, holding regular one-on-one meetings in which your report sets the agenda is a great way to begin building trust if you’re a new manager.
“1:1s are your must-do meetings, your single best opportunity to listen, really listen, to the people on your team to make sure you understand their perspective on what’s working and what’s not working,” says Kim Scott.
4 Decision-making meetings
If you’re ever feeling stuck on a project or major decision, consider scheduling a decision-making meeting.
Decision-making meetings occur when a specific agreement needs to be made. Often, discussions regarding important business decisions take place between larger groups and dedicate a specific meeting (or meetings) to arrive at a clear outcome. On the other hand, smaller-scale decisions might be made between fewer individuals and take place in status update meetings.
Lifesize agrees in their article that certain decisions require several meetings. They also warn managers to be vigilant with the time they are allocating to decision-making meetings:
“The process of making a decision could be spread out over several different meetings so that all parties have a chance to gather information, come up with solutions and vote on how best to move forward. This can result in a lot of time tied up in meetings and communicating back and forth.”
After brainstorming, information gathering, evaluating options and ranking preferences, your group is sure to come to a final decision that the whole group feels comfortable with, even if it means a slight compromise once in a while. These meetings are highly interactive and everyone should be engaged so that they can contribute their perspectives to feel satisfied with a successful meeting.
5 Problem-solving meetings
Problem-solving meetings tend to have a specific goal in mind, which is remedying a current problem. To begin a problem-solving meeting, it is important that you identify the problem that needs to be addressed with your team. Consider all of the relevant information and then define the solutions requirements and restraints before you begin to brainstorm. This problem-solving meeting is a chance to brainstorm and critically think about the situation so that you can evaluate top solutions and then finally, agree on a solution.
Where problem-solving meetings tend to occur after a threat or issue has surfaced, they can also be used in a preventative measure of issues that you may think are bound to arise as the project evolves. Problem-solving meetings could be needed in “emergency” situations as well, where a solution needs to be identified as quickly as possible to diffuse an already erupting situation. In an emergency case, be as quick and to the point as possible – you don’t have time to spare!
6 Brainstorming meetings
Brainstorming or Innovation meetings are a chance to encourage and cultivate creativity in your team by encouraging participants to build off of one another’s ideas. To begin, identify what you want to focus on, whether it is a big-picture situation or if you are looking to innovate a specific area of the business, a current process or operation. Include your entire team for these kinds of meetings and make sure that you place a prominent importance on them!
Lifesize describes the unique qualities of idea-sharing meetings:
“These meetings also make idea sharing interactive, giving colleagues the chance to bounce ideas off of one another, ultimately resulting in more teamwork, stronger relationship building and an engaging meeting experience. While this type of meeting can take up a great deal of time, it often results in new product ideas, expansion to new markets and ways to get ahead of the competition.”
Running an innovation meeting proves that you are constantly looking to grow and improve the way that things are being done. It is a great learning opportunity for you as a leader to hear about ways that you can continue to originate fresh approaches to the business. Make these meetings fun and engaging by creating exercises or collaborative conversations. Don’t forget to celebrate team successes and highlight improvements that have been made.
7 Project kickoff meetings
The goal of a project kickoff meeting is to agree on the timeline, vision, and responsibilities for a new project or initiative. This type of meeting is ideal to lay the foundation for a successful project and ensure that the team is on the same page before everyone begins working on their respective tasks.
In an article for Slack, David Chaudron – an organizational psychologist – argues that project kickoff meetings are essential to generate excitement and enthusiasm about a new project:
“People have to know what the long-term goals of the [project] are going to be so that they can align themselves properly. They really need to know their part in it, [and] you need to get their buy-in,” says Chaudron. “The buy-in is particularly important so they can be enthusiastic about whatever is going on.”
Here’s an example of a project kickoff meeting agenda you can use:
- Background: present a summary that illustrates what you want to achieve.
- Purpose: create a clear and concise mission statement.
- Scope: Get into the scope details, such as specific tasks and activities.
- Timeline: Define your deliverables, milestones and handoffs.
- Roles: Address the specific roles of each contributing member.
- Questions: Clarify any misunderstandings and questions about the project.
A successful project kickoff meeting will leave you and your team feeling excited and prepared to begin working on the project with a clear consensus of the vision and means for execution.
8 Feedback and retrospective meetings
One of the most important things you can do if you want to promote a growth mindset in your team is hosting a retrospective meeting after a project is finished.
“Retrospective meetings are a great opportunity for people to come together to talk about what went well, what didn’t go so well, and what will be changed for the next project,” says Erin Baker.
Fostering a safe environment that is open and non-judgemental is essential to the success of this meeting so that the entire team feels comfortable sharing their feedback on the project.
Here are some items you can include in your project retrospective meeting agenda:
- Project overview: review the project timeline and major events.
- Learnings: share something you’ve learned while completing this project.
- What worked: acknowledge your teammates for the success of the project.
- Opportunities: find where improvements can be made for the next project.
9 Team-building meetings
Team- building meetings are meant to encourage relationship- building between team members to create more personal relationships. This type of rendez-vous is not necessarily in a meeting room (although it can be!) but can be a corporate event or outing to make it feel more casual and relaxed. This category of meeting can include meetings such as an all-hands meeting, a project kick-off meeting, team-building exercises or events.
Moreover, these meetings do not need to be confined to your team only. Team- building meetings are a great opportunity to get a department or entire organization in the same place to get to know who you are working with, building loyalty and engagement. Making your employees feel a part of the bigger picture and recognizing their accomplishments is going to motivate them to continue performing and will also promote satisfaction in their roles.
7 Tips to Make the Best Use of your Meeting Time
1 Set clear goals
Using a meeting agenda template specific to the meeting you are running is going to allow you to set clear goals and focus on the ultimate reason for the meeting. It’s easy to lose focus and get off topic, so using a meeting agenda and following it meticulously will allow you to achieve the objectives of the meeting, without wasting any time. If there is any work or preparation that needs to be completed before the meeting, make sure that you send a check-list well in advance so that all attendees are feeling ready to contribute and are comfortable with the topics being covered.
2 Build an agenda in advance
Build your agenda according to which type of business meeting you are conducting. A successful meeting requires for you to build a meeting agenda that is unique to the objective that you are working to attain. Your agenda is essential because it will keep you on topic and punctual, dedicating specific allocations of time per section. It is important to send the agenda in advance so that there is time for everyone to prepare or for it and so that any suggestions can be brought forward prior to getting together.
3 Send invites ahead of time
It’s not just the meeting agenda that should be sent in advance but also the meeting invites. Time is scarce and your teams’ calendars are likely to fill up just as quickly as yours. Sending your invites in advance demonstrates the importance of putting this time aside and proves that you are organized and on top of the topics that require attention. If your meetings are reoccurring, make sure to be even more diligent with organizing a time every week that your team is available to sync-up. Moreover, do everything in your power not to cancel the meetings that you have organized and find a way to work around them.
4 Leave space for questions
Make sure that you are always leaving a little bit of wiggle room before or after your meeting for your team to bring forward any comments, questions, concerns or suggestions. Setting up this space where your group feels comfortable approaching you is important in building trust and loyalty with your employees. It’s important for your group to know that you welcome and value their thoughts. Offer to set up separate, one-on-one meetings for individuals who require a little more time and attention privately.
5 Run through a post-meeting recap
It’s important to run through a post meeting recap so that you can assess the outcome of the meeting and whether it achieved the desired outcome. Next, you can identify what would have made it more successful, documenting and implementing these points for next time. A recap of the meeting will boost the retention of information as well as clear up any miscommunications. Having someone dedicated to writing effective meeting minutes is essential, seeing as it is extremely easy to forget specific details of the meeting.
6 Define actionable items
Define the actionable items, their deadlines as well as the person assigned to complete them. If more than one person has been assigned to an item, it is important that these individuals know that they need to touch-base and work together to get things done. If you have identified any possible hiccups, be sure to include them into the document. Ensure that this file is readily accessible and updated regularly by the individuals who are in charge of their specific actions, marking the progress or completion in real- time.
7 Ask for feedback
As always, it is super important that you are asking your team for feedback as well as giving feedback to the employees who have participated in successful meetings. To create a culture of continuous improvement, consider using a real-time feedback software such as Fellow.
You can also power your interactions with our feedback templates. Check out our recent blog post on how great managers give and receive feedback for some further reading and best practices.
There are tons of different types of team meetings. It is important to tailor the structure, content and delivery mode of each meeting unique to the goal it is trying to achieve. Refer back to this guide for comprehensive descriptions of the 9 types of meetings you need to know as well as tips for making the best use of your meeting time. Successful meetings don’t need to be complicated but simply, well thought through.