found poorly organized meetings cost companies $399 billion a year.
This guide will help you lead meetings your team actually wants to attend and eliminate the ones that no longer serve you.
At Coda, 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.
Shishir’s product-focused mindset helped evolve Coda’s meeting mindset 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.
With his insights in mind, we’ve developed this meetings guide that you can apply to your Board of Directors, committee meetings, webinars, and everything in between.
A framework for effective meetings.
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. Here’s a quick outline of what you can expect:
1. How to prepare for your meeting.
2. How to run a collaborative and efficient meeting.
3. How to follow-up after your meeting.
1. How to prepare for your meeting.
To get started, think of any product you use. Even the simplest of products 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.
There are many reasons why meetings are an essential part of our working life—asking for feedback, making decisions, sharing progress, and solving challenges. When planning an effective meeting, it’s helpful to know exactly why you’re meeting.
A quick Google search shows six commonly scheduled meetings in the business world.
6 most common meeting types
One of the most common meetings, status updates typically involve project meetings and team meetings.
Align with key team members to provide updates on progress, insight on challenges and blockers, and provide next steps.
From new products to techniques, these meetings aim to share information and teach attendees knowledge about a specific domain or topic.
Speakers provide key updates to others.
Dedicated meetings to come to a consensus on decisions.
Make the best possible decision
Execute a framework for meeting goals, including short and long-term plans
Team members with authority to make decisions
Meetings that identify and solve problems.
Leave the meeting with a strategy on how to solve the problem and prevent obstacles from blocking the team.
Participants (those involved in problem and those impacted by solution)
Investigate new ideas that help product or brand expansion.
Create or redesign a new approach to a problem or project.
Participants with varied backgrounds in at least two disciplines/fields
Getting teams aligned and working towards common goals is a hallmark of team building that can strengthen culture and bring everyone together.
Improve the way the team works together.
Manager or activity leader
There are no rows in this table
While at YouTube, Shishir and his team spent a lot of time and energy trying to perfect their meeting structure, which was meant to support the 6-month/6-week planning cycle. Through this process, YouTube managed to develop a meeting system that prioritized efficiency.
You can read more about YouTube’s meeting types and how we evolved their process for Coda here:
Now that you’ve decided the type of meeting, it’s time to get it on the books. Timing matters here. Need to make an important decision? Then you might not want to schedule during meal times or at the end of the day. Want to host a brainstorm? Look for a time with the most folks can attend. Want to make the whole process a breeze? Try Coda’s
When transitioning to a distributed team, we asked ourselves what it meant to be polite in a digital workspace. And we found that much of it comes down to consideration for our teammates. In a meeting, that often translates to being on time, prepared, and engaged. Use our
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.
, then explore a collection Coda templates and toolkits that will come in handy the next time you design a meeting.
2. How to encourage collaboration during 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 and know that their time is respected.
Coda’s meeting structure is built around the idea of inclusivity, accessibility, and respect.
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 running a
and 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.
Meeting notes give your team a repository of every action item, agenda, and discussion, ideally from every single meeting. And they serve as a real-time decision tracker that anyone can reference during and after the meeting.
At Coda, meeting notes often include a team sentiment tracker and a
. Whatever your team’s notes include, the important thing is that you capture enough to give context about topics discussed and decisions made, even if they weren’t in attendance.
3. How to follow up after your meeting.
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.
5 tips for effective follow-up
Even the best run meetings are ineffective without good follow-through. Here are some best practices to ensure decisions made during the meeting stick.
Follow-up ASAP, in a way that makes sense to your team and/or company culture.
Align your meeting recap with your meeting goals.
Be honest about potential red flags or blockers in the plan.
Keep your follow-up concise and to the point.
Don’t be afraid to follow up again. There’s no harm in a little polite pestering.
Run better meetings in Coda.
If you want to visualize how you can level up your meeting game, these videos will show you how Coda fits into the process before, during, and after your meeting.
Got a question about meetings? We collected the most popular questions people ask about meetings and answered them below.
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 tools are best for meetings?
Why would you record meeting notes in one Google document, make updates in a spreadsheet, and adjust workbacks in Asana? Coda is a doc that brings all your meeting notes, project specs, action itemsーand teammatesーin one organized place. Paired with Zoom, you have everything you need to collaborate remotely.
What makes a productive 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 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.