This Starter Kit showcases free, time-saving templates focused on helping you lead meetings your team actually wants to attend and eliminate the ones that no longer serve you. And each template is customizable, so you can plan, facilitate, and follow up on meetings—in a way that works best for you.
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Learn more about Coda
Before we get into
to run effective meetings, let’s talk about
team meetings are held.
What is the purpose of team meetings?
From 1:1s to board meetings, we think of meetings as the backbone of how work gets done, as something we can (and should) design. Every aspect of meetingsーfrom pre-read information to gathering feedback in a way that’s more inclusive to video conferencing etiquetteーreflect our culture and create genuine opportunities for productive collaboration. Hear more about our meeting philosophy from the person who designed Coda’s first meetings: our CEO and co-founder Shishir Mehrotra.
A 4-part framework for effective meetings.
So many meetings are poorly run. No clear agenda. Derailed discussion. Notes without clear action items and owners. On a spectrum of meetings, we’re willing to bet you often find yourself closer to “should have been an email” than “incredible discussion.” And because time is money, it’s unsurprising that a
found poorly organized meetings cost US companies $399 billion a year.
Here’s a four-part framework that you can apply to meetings with your Board of Directors, committee meetings, webinars, and everything in between. Below, we’ll show you how to better prepare for your meeting, encourage collaboration, ensure your meeting is efficient, and follow up when the meeting is over.
1. How to prepare for your meeting.
To get started, think of any product you use. Even the simplest of products (Flappy Bird, anyone?) have months, if not years, of planning and development before launch. While your meetings probably don’t require months of prep, firmly nailing down your meeting mechanics before the meeting begins makes for a smoother start and leaves space for deep collaboration.
Start with some pre-meeting prep.
How many times have you forgotten to bring up a Very Important Topic during a meeting, despite the Post-It note stuck to your computer? This
from Zapier CEO and co-founder Wade Foster: Ask your working group directly about their current mood. Give them time before the meeting to consider their answer and add any potential discussion topics to the agenda.
template, you can adapt Wade’s method. Add it to your doc with
/remote meeting agenda
Select a sentiment. 👇
🎾 Smooth sailing
Use a team meeting tracker.
While preparing properly and providing an agenda both set the tone for your meeting, sometimes you need a solution that brings everything together in a way that simplifies the process for you and your team. This
template, for example, defines the purpose of the meeting and establishes a set of guiding principles so that expectations are clear before the meeting begins. After, this meeting planner can serve as a reference point for all stakeholders on decisions made.
2. How to encourage collaboration in team meetings.
Your meeting’s audience and goals are confirmed—great! But bringing people together for a meeting is only half the battle. Now you need to keep them engaged. We’ve noticed that people are more willing to participate in a meeting if they feel comfortable, so Coda’s meeting structure is built around the idea of inclusivity and accessibility.
template invites your team to lay it all on the table. And because it’s not directly tied to your meeting’s agenda, you’re free to insert this thermometer anywhere, like at the end of the project brief you’re presenting or the top of your virtual lunch table doc. Start checking in with your team by typing
/team sentiment tracker
Add your sentiment
How do you feel about the upcoming launch?
Check to show everyone's sentiment (
submitted with average sentiment of
We’re making great progress toward launch!
I’m confused as to why we’re not tracking metrics yet.
in every single Coda meeting—especially now that we’ve moved from a space where you could gauge body language, raise hands, draw on a whiteboard to a virtual meeting space. No matter the meeting size or who is attending, we’ve turned this template into a ritual that works to eliminate bias and the vocal minority. By running a
template. This simple combination of tables allows us to hide the team’s comments until everyone is ready to discuss. And if things start to get tense, we can easily shift the focus to positive affirmation by encouraging claps. Add it to your doc with
/I like, I wish
Clap it up.👇
the tone - it really speaks to our core audience!
the new design - it’s gorgeous! 😍
how well you articulated our core values
to make the font size a bit bigger
the mark was slightly friendlier
the second option was more user focused
3. How to run efficient meetings.
In our experience, planning for a meeting doesn’t guarantee its efficiency. Meetings with carefully planned agendas can get sidetracked, especially without an agreement (or a person) to keep the discussion on track. And others might be productive, but in the wrong way—like when there’s a great conversation that isn’t focused on the goal or topic at hand. Here are two templates to help keep everyone accountable.
Use a timer.
Time is a resource your team will never have enough of. So why not save them from another meeting-long tangent? Preventing everyone from getting lost in the discussion (or debate) is your responsibility. But don’t be afraid to let a
do the dirty work.
Start the clock.👇
Set timer for:
Start 45 minute timer
⏲ Start timer
There are no rows in this table
Take simple meeting notes.
Imagine a living archive of every action item, agenda, and meeting note, from every single meeting. One place where you can neatly organize your team’s meetings in one place. A single doc that any stakeholder can go to in a month and know exactly what was decided, and how. With
The meeting may be over, but your work is not. Like a newly-launched product, meetings benefit from a PR cycle. We remind team members of their action items, loop-in those that couldn’t make the meeting, and provide visibility to stakeholders. Think of it as your post-meeting thank you cards.
Take action with decision memos.
With or without decision making, we make a habit out of turning raw meeting notes into something more formal that’s shared out with the team—like a press release for your meeting. The prompts in this
template can be a helpful guide to the context you’re providing the team.
Automate with the email-a-page button.
Habits are easier formed when the action itself is simple. With this template, sending out meeting notes, decision memos, and everything between is as easy as clicking a button. Get started by adding an
Let’s face it, you’ll lead and attend countless meetings over the course of your career. You're a meeting professional. Designing effective meetings like you would design a product gives you an active role in your team’s productivity. And turns your meeting docs into virtual symposiums: inclusive, interactive spaces for your attendees to write, brainstorm, be heard, and make decisions—together.
Companies have their own types of meetings. Many companies start with a 4-part taxonomy: decision-making forum, group information sharing, sync meeting, and general. You can see their definitions in the table below.
Meetings where we get together to make key choices. These meetings tend to have different attendees every time—whichever group is seeking a key decision or feedback.
Group Information Sharing
Meetings whose primary purpose is information dissemination across a broader group. These meetings aim less at solving problems, and more at providing context to the team.
Meetings where a standing group meets regularly, often to check-in on a shared project, or hold themselves accountable to a shared goal.
At Coda, we believe you should design your meeting like a product team would design a product—with conscious thought put into both audience and outcome. Running an effective team meeting boils down to the level of preparation, collaboration, efficiency, and follow-up.
What are the benefits of well-run meetings?
Bottom line: well-run meetings increase the productivity of your team. And along the way, they create inclusive, interactive spaces for your attendees to write, brainstorm, be heard, and make decisions together—even if together is over video conference.
How long should a meeting take?
The short answer is, it depends on the type of meeting. Looking at the meeting types mentioned above, decision forums are probably longer than sync meetings, like a town hall. At Coda, we have a company-wide meeting cadence that includes two decision forums, one group information sharing meeting, and one sync meeting. In our case, each is one hour.