The Meeting Starter Kit

Your guide to running engaging, inclusive meetings that everyone will want to attend.
Last updated: 11/20/2020

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

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.

At Coda, we think of meetings as the backbone of how work gets done, as something we can (and should) design. We’ve examined every aspect of meetingsーfrom pre-read information to gathering feedback in a way that’s more inclusiveーto ensure they’re a reflection of 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.

Prior planning prevents poor performance.

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.

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? Focus your meetings goals by bringing your meeting schedule and burning questions into a single table with
/pre-meeting prep
—and ditch the stickies.

Add a few notes and re-assign priorities. 👇
Meeting prep
Strategy session
Complete comparative analysis.
Bring social media copy examples.
Make sure all internal stakeholders are invited.
11/10/2020, 8:00 AM
11/10/2020, 9:00 AM
Lunch & Learn
11/11/2020, 9:00 AM
11/11/2020, 10:30 AM
Meeting with TJ
This is just a follow-up from our last meeting. No action items!
11/12/2020, 8:00 AM
11/12/2020, 9:00 AM
Team dinner
Where are we having this again?
11/12/2020, 2:00 PM
11/12/2020, 3:00 PM
No results from filter

Meetings are just as much about interpersonal communication as they are about work.
from Zapier CEO and co-founder Wade Foster: Ask your team directly about their current mood. Give them time before the meeting to consider their answer and add any potential discussion topics to the agenda. Adapt Wade’s template by typing
/remote meeting agenda
in any doc.

Select a sentiment. 👇

🎾 Smooth sailing

Create a safe space for collaboration.

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.

Like the
, this sentiment tracker 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

Weigh-in. 👇

Add your sentiment

How do you feel about the upcoming launch?

Check to show everyone's sentiment (
submitted with average sentiment of
Submitted by
We’re making great progress toward launch!
Lola Tseudonym
I’m confused as to why we’re not tracking metrics yet.
Buck Dubois
I need to be more productive this sprint.
Felix Marlin
There are no rows in this table

We use voting tables 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 inviting people to ask questions or propose discussion topics at any point during the meeting, the
/voting table
empowers and encourages everyone to participate, from the wallflower to the remote teammates.

How do you honor the human element as much as the technology and business element, and something as simple as a meeting? George Kembel, Stanford

When the meeting goal is to gather feedback, we try to combat groupthink with George Kembel’s
/I like, I wish
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.

Clap it up.👇
Team feedback
I like...
the tone - it really speaks to our core audience!
the new design - it’s gorgeous! 😍
how well you articulated our core values
I wish...
to make the font size a bit bigger
the mark was slightly friendlier
the second option was more user focused

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
↩ Reset
There are no rows in this table

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. With
/simple meeting notes
, all you need to do is duplicate a page.

Always follow up.

The meeting may be over, but your work is not. Like a newly-launched product, meetings benefit from a PR cycle. We remind folks 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.

Whether or not decisions were made, 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
/decision memo
can be a helpful guide to the context you’re providing the team.

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
/email-a-page button
to your doc.

Add an email below and click the button.👇
Email Address
There are no rows in this table
Email the addresses above

Let’s face it, you’ll lead and attend countless meetings over the course of your career. Designing those 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.

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to let us know!

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