Your meeting’s audience and goals are confirmed—great! But bringing people together for a meeting is only half the battle. The unfortunate truth is that meetings
turn into a waste of time without proper organization. As soon as the meeting starts, you need to keep your team members engaged with the action plan.
What is an effective meeting?
An effective meeting is an inclusive, interactive space for your attendees to brainstorm, be heard, and make decisions—together. Effective meetings are those you prepare for, like setting ground rules and sending out an agenda. During the meeting, that preparation encourages collaboration and a clear decision-making path. For guidance on designing your meetings like a product, read
The structure of an effective meeting
We’ve noticed that people are more willing to participate in a meeting if they feel comfortable. This is why Coda’s meeting structure is built around the idea of inclusivity. Here are 3 steps that you can practice to take a good meeting to a great meeting.
1. Set meeting ground rules.
Ground rules encourage meeting participants to contribute and facilitate respectful communication between all meeting participants. Some useful rules to start with:
Respecting the meeting time.
Coming prepared with meeting pre-work.
Communicating with a solutions-based mindset.
Allowing everyone to speak.
Making sure everyone is aware of the decision-making process.
Following up on agenda items.
2. Communicate the meeting agenda.
Many poorly run meetings are a result of subpar meeting management. One simple way to avoid a bad meeting is setting and communicating a meeting agenda ahead of time so that everyone can get on the same page and come to the meeting room prepared. Meeting agendas also help with time management.
3. Establish a clear decision-making process.
The most productive meetings translate ideas into action items. Decision-makers should communicate how all the input from team meetings will be prioritized, added to the backlog, and executed as action items.
Run meetings like a pro with these meeting templates
Here are a set of templates to make sure your next meeting is efficient, productive, and inclusive:
Team sentiment tracker
One of Coda’s long-standing meeting rituals, this
template asks your team exactly how they feel. We often add them at the top of our meeting docs, so we can gauge everyone’s temperature (about life, the meeting generally, or the topics at hand) before getting started — what people choose to include can set the tone for the rest of the meeting
Team votes for decision making
Another Coda staple,
are included in nearly every Coda meeting to eliminate bias and minimize a vocal minority. Voting tables also help crowdsource the meeting agenda or last-minute topics that may come up during the meeting.
Sentence starters for team feedback
Giving feedback during a meeting isn’t always a simple ask. Whether your team is hesitant to critique their peers or they’re just not sure what to say, reflecting can feel like pulling team. We try to defang the process with this
template that gives everyone a set of feedback prompts, hides comments until everyone is ready to discuss, and encourages positive affirmation.
Timer for meeting time management
Tangents happen — and meetings end before the goals are accomplished. But not everyone is comfortable interrupting others in order to keep the meeting on track. Let this timer template do the dirty work for you. All you need to do is set the length and hit a button.
Meeting minutes for successful follow up
template gives your team a repository of every action item, agenda, and meeting note, from every single meeting. And they serve as a real-time decision tracker that anyone can reference during and after the meeting.
FAQ on running effective meetings
What makes an effective meeting?
A successful meeting is one that achieves the agreed-upon goal, whether it's a brainstorming session, stand-up, or decision-making forum. Beyond the meeting purpose, you can also judge effectiveness on the level of preparation, collaboration, and follow-up.
How do you end a meeting?
The best way to end a meeting is to respect everyone’s time — there’s nothing wrong with ending early! We also recommend wrapping up by calling out any action items. And because those next sometimes leave our minds at the end of the meeting, it’s a great best practice to follow-up with the meeting notes and action items via email or Slack.
What are meeting minutes?
Meeting minutes are essentially just notes taken during the meeting. At Coda, these often include a team sentiment tracker and a voting table. We generally take notes and identify action items within our voting tables, but you can also break them out to another space in your meeting minutes. The important thing is that you capture enough to give context about topics discussed and decisions made, even if they weren’t in attendance.