In this guide you’ll learn:
How to build a positive meeting culture in your organization
3 step checklist to follow before you send out an invite
The 5 best practices to follow when facilitating a meeting
How to make virtual meetings more engaging and avoid meeting fatigue
When an organization’s culture and operations drive momentum across teams working to accomplish a common goal, you’re realizing the benefits of effective meeting management. Some examples of goals in a meeting might be troubleshooting, planning, goal setting, updating, or decision making—all of which become increasingly challenging as groups get bigger and teams are distributed.
Effective meeting management doesn't stop after the last of the "minutes" have been typed up and shared with the team. It includes preparing attendees beforehand, engaging facilitation during the meeting, and thoughtful follow-through afterward too.
Luckily, there are ways to optimize your team's time together. Keep reading to unlock the steps to achieve better meetings and learn how effective meeting management fosters an empathic workplace.
What is meeting management?
A meeting management system sets the team up for success with consistencies that each meeting member takes part in before, during, and after the meeting. The more people-centric and consistent these processes are, the more likely your employees are to adopt them.
When teammates are equipped with the tools to prepare for a meeting and understand what outcomes they are accountable for, it minimizes workplace stress and enhances the employee experience. As distributed teams become the norm, employee experience is a crucial consideration.
The Future Forum distills employee experience down to five key factors: productivity, work-life balance, managing work-related stress and anxiety, sense of belonging, and satisfaction with current work arrangement.
A study in the same Future Forum article challenges the notion that more meetings means more team control. Instead, it finds that employees who are asked to attend too many weekly meetings feel worse about their sense of belonging compared to those who receive updates asynchronously through digital channels.
WorkPatterns is a people-centric management system—meeting workflows are a core pillar of our app. We provide user-friendly features to support team priorities and outcomes that keep meetings efficient and focused.
“If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be “meetings.” —Dave Barry, American humorist
Meeting management best practices: Steps to take before the meeting to set it up for success
Define the Purpose of the Meeting and Create the Agenda
When arranging a meeting, the purpose of the meeting should be the common thread in every activity including the meeting type, the list of relevant attendees, and the frequency with which the meetings are held.
To understand the goals and purpose of the meeting, ask:
What format best supports the intended discussion?
What level of interactivity is required from participants?
What are the anticipated outcomes, action items, or deliverables after this meeting?
How much structure or facilitation is required?
Here are some common meeting formats to consider that can help put structure to a wide range of use cases:
- Recurring meetings: a predictive meeting that is scheduled regularly with a set agenda
- Ad Hoc meetings: short conversations that happen off-the-cuff and are often attributed to serendipity
- Project meetings: related to a specific group or project, often facilitated by a project owner who is striving to keep team members on schedule for project delivery
- Daily stand-up meetings: these types of meetings are held to provide status updates on what tasks have been completed the day previously and what remains to be done for the current day
- Problem-solving/ brainstorm meetings: best used to innovate, generate new ideas, or fix issues these meetings are centered around collective creativity
- Presentations: one or more group members might host this to present an idea, launch a new product, announce a promotion or project pivot
- Team building meetings: generally provided in an informal setting to bring the team closer together and develop rapport
Invite relevant meeting attendees:
You've identified the purpose and format of the meeting. Now it's time to include the participants.
If you invite too many people to the meeting, you run the risk of disengagement from members mistakenly included but have nothing to contribute or gain from being present. This can dilute the meeting and reduce productivity.
On the flip side, when key people are missing from the meeting, it can mean having to reschedule additional meetings to make up for information gaps. This can be frustrating to the participants who made time for a semi-productive meeting.
To avoid these pitfalls that may unintentionally hamper your credibility as the meeting facilitator, always revisit your purpose and encourage continuous feedback from meeting participants.
Establish the meeting frequency:
Deciding whether a meeting is a one-off or recurring event is critical to team engagement. Harvard Business Review states that the meeting's frequency will determine the eventual unity or cohesiveness of the group.
Here's what you have to know about recurring and one-off meetings:
Recurring Meetings (Daily, Weekly, Monthly etc.):
When organized with precision, recurring meetings can help keep team members up to date with one another's progress, stumbling blocks, and wins.
For example, daily stand-up meetings can be helpful when teammates require support because they know what each team member’s bandwidth looks like on any given day.
You may consider a recurring meeting if:
- Input or support from other team members is critical to the team's success.
- You want to create a culture of accountability and keep the momentum on projects.
- Celebrating wins is part of the agenda for a morale booster.
WorkPatterns has features to support all of these goals in an interactive way with its “good manager assistant” that allows you to keep up with your team’s to-dos from a dashboard. You can celebrate wins with the Kudos feature by sending a gif through the app that integrates with any Slack or Microsoft Teams channel for visibility across a broader employee audience.
The One-off Meetings:
One-off meetings happen on an as-needed basis and may include members of other teams that aren't used to normally working together, vendors, and/or clients.
You may consider this meeting type if:
- There's a need for new solutions or ideas
- It's time to realign objectives on a particular project
- Something important has changed since the initial or previous meeting
Distribute a collaborative agenda
Collaborative agendas, whether for one-on-ones or a group, provide relevant information while inviting participation and team engagement.
Give attendees access to the agenda in advance. This allows participants to prepare by contributing additional resources and discussion topics.
With WorkPatterns, you can give participants who are presenting within the meeting a heads up by assigning them as the owner of an agenda’s discussion topic so that expectations are set in advance. It’s an empathic way to afford them the opportunity to clarify with the meeting organizer if they have questions or require more context. It also prevents anyone from feeling like they've been put on the spot during the meeting.
By reducing ‘pings’ via chat that can feel disruptive at best and anxiety-inducing at worst, it keeps everything in-app and organized between meeting participants. This means that pre and post-meeting details can be called up again for reference and reflection anytime without getting buried in emails.
Consider any additional preparation needed to facilitate the conversation
After you've determined the meeting’s purpose and shared a collaborative agenda with attendees, it's time to prepare the supportive materials that will underscore the purpose of the meeting, keep participants engaged, and reduce any likelihood of meeting over time.
Meeting management is more important than ever with a growing number of distributed and remote teams. Pre-work ensures that meeting time is used productively.
Examples of meeting pre-work might include:
- A PowerPoint or Keynote presentation to prepare for a launch
- Mock-ups and prototypes for design crits
- An interactive board on Miro for brainstorming
- Internal feedback or survey results
If asking participants to review pre-work before the meeting, make sure to:
Ensure that it's essential to the meeting content: explain why it's critical to their understanding of the meeting's content.
Make the priority clear: if there is more than one item to review, flesh it out into easy to digest steps and tell them roughly how long each step will take.
Make it interactive: text-heavy pre-work may make the team go cross-eyed. Break it up with different mediums and formats.
Meeting management: how to run an effective meeting
Effective meeting management means doing these five things in every meeting:
Start with an overview of the agenda
Let participants know where you’re heading and the purpose of your discussion. Provide a light recap of who is responsible for presenting which portion of the meeting.
Provide context for how everyone can participate
Let participants know the best way to contribute, ask questions, and provide feedback while the meeting is in progress. Doing so will prevent tangents, keep attendees focused and ensure the time is productive.
That could mean asking participants to jot down notes without interrupting until the end of each section is complete. You may also request a more active participation level that happens in real-time—whatever it is, lay it all out.
Bring A+ facilitation skills
Meeting management includes knowing when it's time to move things along to keep time and also when one particular voice has been dominating the meeting space.
In a virtual setting, you may need to pay closer attention to the cues during the meeting to ensure everyone gets the opportunity to share.
Wrap up with action items
After each section of the meeting, assign action items to the relevant parties and move the project forward. Do this seamlessly within the WorkPatterns app and eliminate the need for meeting minutes altogether.
Align on follow-through and ownership
Decide on the best way to communicate the completion of action items and who will own the handoff so that each team member can own their piece of the project.
Effective meeting management: engagement through empathy
When you build consensus on meeting set-up beforehand, are clear on facilitation throughout, and quarterback the follow-through—employees are less likely to feel frustrated.
Rather than sending that 5 pm calendar invite for the next day with lost links embedded in the description, use tools like WorkPatterns to facilitate effective meetings.
In-app workspaces create a fluid platform that's collaborative and intuitive. With both private and group options, you eliminate the never-ending inbox of calendar invites and streamline the meeting intent.
A systematic approach to meeting management shows empathy for the people who work for you. By investing in consistent processes and tools, you demonstrate that you value their input while respecting their workday.
Meeting management is better with WorkPatterns
WorkPatterns provides One on Ones, Team Collaboration, Feedback, Recognition & Goals — all in one place. With WorkPatterns, you can guide your team with continuous feedback and rich goal management that goes beyond simple to-do lists.