4 meeting types that will simplify your calendar

A framework for a time-saving meeting process.

Meetings are an essential part of our working life. They give us a space to ask for feedback, make decisions, share progress, and solve challenges. When meetings are run effectively, they help make our jobs easier. However, when meetings are not properly planned, they can be a huge time-sink for teams that end up costing businesses precious time and resources. Planning a good meeting starts with knowing what type of meeting you need to run. In this article, we’ll run through the most common framework for meetings and then show you how we’ve evolved the meeting process to save time here at Coda. Coda uses a simplified meeting structure. We attribute our meeting evolution to our founder and CEO, Shishir Mehrotra, whose current thoughts on meetings were cultivated during his time at YouTube. At YouTube, Shishir and his team spent a lot of time and energy perfecting their meeting structure, which was meant to support the 6-month/6-week planning cycle. Here’s a brief look at where they landed:
1. Decision forum.
  • Everyone comes together to make key choices.
  • Tend to have different attendees—whichever group is seeking a key decision or feedback.
  • Example: Product and engineering reviews.
2. Group information sharing.
  • Information dissemination across a broader group.
  • Aim less at solving problems and more at providing context to the team.
  • Example: All-hands and staff meetings.
3. Tag-ups.
  • Standing group meets regularly to check-in on a shared project.
  • Essentially group 1-on-1s.
  • Example: Cross-functional or project syncs.
4. 1-on-1s.
  • Primarily coaching focused.
  • Also used for solving individual problems not covered by tag-ups.
  • Example: Manager check-ins.
  • Avoid ad-hoc meetings.
  • Come prepared and expect others to be prepared.
  • Avoid rescheduling.
  • Don’t be afraid to cancel.
Shishir’s product-focused mindset helped evolve Coda’s meeting ethos by thinking about the core structure and mechanics of meetings with the goal of focused discussions that yield feedback for presenters.
The way you run your meetings changes your whole culture. The main philosophy I’ve come to is you should design your meeting like you’d design your product.
Shishir Mehrotra
Founder and CEO of Coda

Decision forum → Catalyst forums.

Catalyst is an emergent group of people brought together to discuss a specific topic. Our catalyst meetings are standing forums—we have them multiple times throughout the week—with an emergent audience, and no rollover agenda. Within the catalyst forum framework, we specify what type of catalyst the meeting is: ideation, framing, proposal, or action. A successful catalyst meeting is one where the meeting leader receives clarity on their questions.

Group information sharing → Context meetings.

Context is a wide variety of meetings that allow us to gain a shared perspective between a group of people. They tend to be more formal, like a hackathon or new hire orientation session. A successful context meeting will leave you better informed to do your job.

Tag-ups & 1:1s → Cadence meetings.

Cadence meetings gather a group of people looking to hold themselves accountable to a shared goal. These meetings are recurring with a rolled-over agenda, like a weekly standup. At Coda, these meetings have a typical pattern: understand, commit, check and steer, review, and celebrate. Successful cadence meetings provide insight into a team’s progress toward their goals. When it comes down to it, many of our meetings are run the same way—with context sent ahead of time, clear agendas established, team sentiment taken at the start, and a voting table to crowdsource and prioritize the discussion. At Coda, knowing the roles is crucial to making the meeting successful. Here are the three primary meeting roles we have:

🎨 Makers.

These are the “doers” who execute the results of the meeting. They set the stage with context and seek understanding, rather than just communication. They own and commit to the meeting outcomes.

🧠 Braintrust.

These are the numerous people pulled into a meeting to guide it forward and provide much-needed context. They must arrive informed, help shepherd ideas when possible, inject context where necessary, and add lift to the meeting instead of drag.

🤹🏻‍♂️ The Meeting Molly.

Molly is the person responsible for running the meeting. They are a conductor—the maestro that ensures that everything is tracked before, during, and after it has happened. They check that the meeting prep is ready, the attendee list is set, and the agenda has clear framing of goals. During the meeting, they ensure the meeting is on track and the correct topics are being discussed. Afterward, they ensure a summary is recorded and the team has the right action items. Like the meeting cadence at YouTube, ours has adapted as we’ve evolved as a company. Yours probably will as well. We encourage you to tinker with your own meeting structure until you’re confident that it works for—and not against—your team.

Try running your next meeting in Coda.

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