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 will save you time, make for a smoother start, and leave space for deep collaboration.
3 meeting planning tips for effective meetings
As with many successful projects, most of the heavy lifting happens at the planning stage. Good meeting planning ensures that ideas are captured, action items are assigned, and follow-ups are accounted for in the next meeting. Here are 3 tips on how to run effective meetings:
Define the purpose of the meeting.
Before your team meetings, everyone involved should align on the meeting goal. Clarity is half the battle when it comes to running a successful meeting. Do you want to make a decision? Or are you just checking in? Be as explicit as possible when defining the meeting purpose.
Brainstorm is part of pre-work.
Ever been in a meeting where time is lost on the brainstorming session? By making the ideation part of the pre-work for a meeting, you can save time and help team members come to the meeting with more focus and intentionality. As an added benefit, because pre-work forces everyone to think about the purpose and content of the meeting, they already have opinions ready to share.
Have a clear decision-making process.
A lot of meetings lose effectiveness by failing to include a step that translates great ideas into action. But if you design your meetings like a product, you start planning your meeting with the intended audience and output. While you’re working backward, make sure to also establish a clear decision-making process that encourages more accountability.
Meeting planning templates
Here are a set of templates to simplify and streamline your planning:
Pre-meeting prep template
We’re all juggling meetings, deep work, and passion projects. With so much in the mix, it’s easy to forget (or let slip) some of the pre-work required for effective meetings. Give yourself another set of hands with this
template that brings your calendar into a table with space for notes, questions, or whatever it takes to get prepared.
Remote meeting agenda template
Your meeting agenda items are important, sure, but meetings are just as much about interpersonal communication between team members as they are about work. Why not use this
template to ask your team how they’re feeling during the meeting—whether it’s about the topic at hand or life in general. And because the time
a meeting can go quick, give them time before the meeting to consider their answer and add any potential discussion topics to the agenda.
Team meeting tracker template
template is a solution that combines all three of our effective meeting tips. Within a single doc, the meeting planner helps you define the purpose of the meeting, establish a set of guiding principles to set clear expectations before the meeting begins, and track meeting minutes.
Meeting planning FAQs
What are the steps in planning a meeting?
Meeting planning steps can be different for each individual, team, or company, depending on the meeting culture. There’s nothing stopping you from taking no steps to plan your meeting, but winging a meeting isn’t always the best idea. At the very least, you should plan an agenda. And if you want to do more as the facilitator, you might consider:
Defining the purpose of your meeting.
Establish a decision-making process.
Assign attendees pre-work (brainstorming, adding to the agenda, etc).
Schedule the meeting, and make sure to consider time zones for virtual meetings.
Providing the tools needed to succeed (like adding a team sentiment tracker to your doc or booking a conference room with a whiteboard if you're meeting face-to-face).
What are the basic elements of a meeting?
Different types of meetings—from Board meetings to 1:1s to offsites—will all require variations on a few elements. You’re probably going to want an agenda for both. At Coda, every single meeting held includes a ritual we call Dory and Pulse. Essentially, it’s a combination of a discussion topic voting table and a sentiment tracker. And with these templates, we aim for inclusivity and to avoid bias.
What makes a good meeting?
A good meeting is one that is productive. And that productivity may manifest in several ways. Perhaps you achieve the set goal of the meeting. Or maybe you had another conversation altogether that unblocked something else. A better meeting is also an inclusive, interactive space for people to brainstorm, be heard, and make decisions.