> 4 meeting types that will simplify your calendar
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.
A quick Google search will surface six commonly scheduled meetings:
The 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 your team may need all six meeting types to accomplish their goals, Coda uses a simplified meeting structure. We attribute our meeting evolution to our founder and CEO, Shishir Mehrotra, whose time at YouTube shaped his philosophy on meetings.
YouTube’s weekly cadence: 4 core types of meetings.
Many of Shishir’s current thoughts on meetings were cultivated during his time at YouTube, which you can read more about here:
. While there, 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. Here’s a brief look at where they landed:
Everyone comes together to make key choices.
Tend to have different attendees every time—whichever group is seeking a key decision or feedback.
Example: Product and engineering reviews
Group information sharing
Primary purpose is 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
Standing group meets regularly, often to check-in on a shared project, or hold themselves accountable to a shared goal.
Essentially group 1-on-1’s.
Example: Cross-functional or project syncs
Primarily coaching focused.
Also used for solving individual problems not covered by tag-ups.
There are no rows in this table
It’s worth noting that norms and formality for each meeting differed, as did the goals and attendee list. However, all of the meetings operated under a few common beliefs:
Avoid ad-hoc meetings.
Come prepared and expect others to be prepared.
And don’t be afraid to cancel.
Meetings at Coda: Adapting YouTube’s meeting types.
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.
More specifically, we’ve mostly adopted YouTube’s meeting cadence—but with a small shift.
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.
Defined meeting roles.
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:
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.
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 the everything is tracking 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.
Create a weekly meeting cadence that works for your team.
Like that at YouTube, our meeting cadence has adapted as we’ve evolved as a company. Yours probably will as well. And we encourage you to tinker with your own meeting structure until you’re confident that it works for—and not against—your team.
Now that you have a better understanding of what meeting types you need, you can move on to the next step of creating an