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👍 16 Dos and Don'ts for Staff Meetings (+3 Free Agenda Templates)

Better staff meetings = a better workplace. Learn the dos and don'ts. Plus, grab 3 FREE agenda templates for team meetings. 🙌

The Hugo Team
The Hugo Team
The team transforming meeting productivity
👍 16 Dos and Don'ts for Staff Meetings (+3 Free Agenda Templates)

Are you wondering how to improve staff meetings?

Meetings should inform and motivate a team. But they occasionally (or frequently) fall flat. 

This can be especially true of remote or virtual meetings, where it can be hard to keep engagement high through a screen.

The consequences are much worse than the immediate boredom and embarrassment. A team’s productivity can be negatively affected. They leave the meeting feeling negative (or neutral at best) instead of energized, informed, and eager to compete. 

For executive and management teams, unengaging meetings can bring even worse consequences than lower productivity. These include reduced innovation, vision, and creativity. Teams drained, discouraged, or even alienated by unfocused meetings can miss seeing opportunities and risks that they would have otherwise seen.  

On the other hand, when run well, the benefits of staff meetings are plentiful. Boosted morale, better communication, and more ideas exchanged are just a few of the gems mined from successful meetings. 

Great team meetings make for a better workplace. Bad meetings make for a soul-crushing one.

To help you start transforming tough meetings into amazing ones, this guide contains the most important dos and don’ts designed to sharpen your tools.

First, there are some of the most common questions about running successful staff meetings that need to be answered.

Table of Contents

  1. Are staff meetings necessary?
  2. What is the purpose of a staff meeting?
  3. How do you announce a staff meeting?
  4. What should be included?
  5. Staff meeting dos
  6. Staff meeting dont's
  7. Types of staff meetings
  8. How to start
  9. How long should a staff meeting last?

Staff Meeting Agenda Templates

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Are staff meetings necessary?

In the earliest stages of a new business or organization, formal staff meetings may not happen. Instead, a few founders might informally collaborate and communicate to get things off the ground.

The unseen costs of informal meetings

However, with modern meeting software available, neglecting to formalize early-stage meetings can be a critical mistake. Even ten years ago, it was time-consuming to draw up an agenda, distribute it, take meeting minutes, and then distribute them after the meeting. 

So it’s understandable that early-stage meetings back then were left informal. There simply wasn’t time. It’s like before GPS, mapping the most efficient route on a road trip wasn’t worth the time of poring over page after page in the paper atlas. Now that GPS software makes such detailed plotting effortless, anyone concerned about maximizing efficiency uses it. 

It’s the same with modern meeting software. 

Clearly, decisions taken in the early stages of a company are often among the most important ever taken. 

Unnecessary informality in the meetings at which these decisions are made can introduce: 

  • Costs in efficiency
  • Degradation of good communication 
  • Confusion about direction and mission
  • Power struggles
  • Lack of accountability

When everyone agrees formal meetings are necessary

However, as an organization grows and adds teams, staff meetings become essential. Without them, communication tends to become disjointed, and collaboration falls apart. A workplace culture fails to develop without a sense of unity. Team members lose the ability to ask for and offer feedback on, and help with, challenging projects.

Without a sense of inclusion in one another’s projects, team members become focused only on their own work and struggles. This tunnel vision and isolation eat away at morale and motivation. Everything is ten times harder to do—but good staff meetings can fix that.

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What is the purpose of a staff meeting?

Why have staff meetings?

Many of us have sat through painful, dragged-out meetings (that could have been an email) at some point. But they don’t have to be this way. Meeetings need to have a clearly communicated purpose that engages the team. They need to share goals, procedures, and strategies. Focusing strictly on necessary staff meeting topics will keep meetings useful and time-conscious.

Successful staff meetings bring everyone together to check-in with one another and communicate hurdles and needs. At the very least, staff meetings keep everyone on the same page. When done well, they increase accountability, engagement, and creative problem-solving.

When a team gathers to share progress and build upon it together, they fuel an organization’s overall success. In turn, this contributes to one of the many benefits of staff meetings: a productive, engaged workplace culture that team members actually enjoy. Successful staff meetings leave everyone feeling accomplished and optimistic.

The crucial thing missed by “all business” staff meetings 

Often overlooked are the crucial emotional and political uses of staff meetings. A strictly “utilitarian” or “all business” tone to staff meetings neglects the most utilitarian and business-enhancing of all needs: human emotions and teamwork. 

If your team members are not feeling the right emotions for making your team highly competitive, it won’t matter how much great information they get from a staff meeting. 

Good leaders know this, and are always finding ways to focus on what motivates their team, even (or especially) in staff meetings. 

Communication in a staff meeting is about more than information. It’s also giving credit where due, holding team members accountable, creating a sense of enjoyment and engagement with each other as human beings. In staff meetings, these are controlled by tone rather than content. (Playing a “game” to “have fun” would likely feel false, when people are busy. But a leader’s consistent, focused, warm demeanor can make enormous changes in how a team interacts.

Management's job is to convey leadership's message in a compelling and inspiring way. Not just in meetings, but also by example.
—Jeffery Gitomer - Author, Speaker, and Business Trainer

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How do you announce a staff meeting?

To announce a staff meeting, first select a communication tool that all invitees are sure to receive, see, and RSVP to. It can be confusing and disjointing if you send out a calendar invite for a recurring meeting with no explanation. And if you include a lengthy explanation in the calendar invite, that can make the meeting feel unnecessarily burdensome.

If meeting invitees use Slack to collaborate, start a thread. You might also want to make a short Loom video for your announcement to give it a personal touch. Email is also an option.

Use the best practices from the Vital meetings framework notably, that all meetings need PANTS (Purpose, Agenda, Notes, Tasks, Shared).

In the announcement for your staff meeting, clearly communicate key information about the meeting, as well as the P and A.

  • Date
  • Time
  • Location (or meeting room link or dial-in number, for remote meetings)
  • Meeting Purpose
  • Agenda

If the meeting will be recurring, note that as well.

For the staff meeting agenda, you can attach it, link to it, or put it entirely in the calendar invite (just make sure it is accessible from the calendar invite). Encourage invitees to add to or provide feedback on the agenda ahead of the meeting, such as by asking participants to summarize their updates in advance with a few bullet points.

When you include others in preparing the agenda, you help build investment in the team meeting. It’s also good for morale. If you're not sure where to start, check out these sample meeting agendas.

{{start-having-better-meetings="/blog-inserts"}}

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What should be included in a staff meeting?

There are a few best practices when it comes to creating worthwhile staff meeting topics. Ideally, your agenda will include items like important goals and discussion topics:

  • Meeting objectives
  • Recognition of team member achievements
  • Notable organizational changes or accomplishments
  • Points to be discussed
  • Organizational goals
  • Team member updates and goals
  • Action items

We’ll share some free staff meeting templates with you right after we go over the much-anticipated dos and don’ts.

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Successful Staff Meeting Dos

Some of the best practices for meetings include:

  1. Using a meeting agenda. Ideally, the meeting agenda should be created and shared a week in advance, and attendees should be able to collaborate by adding or suggesting time.
  2. Maintain a motivating tone. What that motivating tone may be depends on the type of team, the individual team members, and the circumstances. But it should always be top of mind, because without the right emotions, people can’t perform at their best.
  3. Offering recognition. Acknowledging accomplishments and team members’ hard work is a great morale booster!
  4. Holding team members accountable. This doesn’t mean coming down on someone in a staff meeting, which can do more harm for performance than good, due to the emotional impact. It means asking about progress, letting them know they have the responsibility, and will get the rewards.
  5. Asking the right questions. If a team is not asking the right questions, then no matter how well they answer the wrong questions, the business problem remains.
  6. Spending time solving problems. It’s tempting to fill the agenda with a long list of things to talk about, but allocating more time to discuss solutions to important issues is often much more productive.
  7. Keeping things relevant. No one wants to sit in a meeting that doesn’t require their input, so stick to meeting items that affect everyone present. 
  8. Taking, and sharing, meeting notes. Have a designated person take notes of what happens in the meeting, then share those notes afterward. Include people who were invited to the meeting, but couldn’t make it.
  9. Assigning all tasks. Make sure any action items that come out of the meeting have a clear owner.
  10. Asking for feedback. Remember: accepting input breeds investment. Ask attendees how staff meetings can be improved upon in the future.
Meetings at work present great opportunities to showcase your talent. Do not let them go to waste.
—Abhishek Ratna, Product Marketing, Tensorflow (Google)

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Successful Staff Meeting Don’ts

To improve your staff meetings, be sure that you don’t:

  1. Fill time. Bringing in outside speakers, creating busywork, or revisiting already-established policies and procedures are often a waste of time. On the contrary, it’s advisable to find ways to cut down the time meetings take from a busy team.
  2. Start late. Be respectful – and respectable – by starting and ending on time. You should even end early if all meeting items have been covered!
  3. Multitask. If your attention is on your phone, tablet, or laptop during a meeting, it sends the signal that the meeting isn’t important. Meeting and note-taking apps are an exception, of course, and it wouldn’t hurt to make this a rule for all attendees—but lead by example!
  4. Lecture. While major announcements, presentations, and organizational updates may require an all-hands meeting that is less engaging, most staff meetings should be an exchange of ideas rather than a one-way communication street.
  5. Ignore remote employees. However, hybrid meetings can result in some neglect of remote employees, who are linked only by an audio or video link. Encourage, but don’t require, remote team members to have their cameras on. Unless your team is clearly too large, ensure you have an interaction with, or mention by name, everyone involved in the meeting at least once. Be sure that all resources are visible to remote team members as well.
  6. Fall into an impromptu one-on-one. As a leader, your time and attention is naturally needed by many team members. That means staff meetings are a prime opportunity for your team members to bring in off-topic issues. It’s natural, and a leader should be open, but you should also recognize when a conversation with one team member in a staff meeting is going too far off track. Simply suggest a later one-on-one with them, separate from the staff meeting. They’ll be happy – and the rest of the team will be, too.

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What types of staff meetings are there?

In addition to the all-hands meetings mentioned in the example above, most organizations also have more regular team meetings and management meetings.

Below are some sample agendas that you can also use as a team meeting minutes template. Each one is available as a Google Doc, Word Doc, or for use in Hugo.

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All-hands meetings bring every team member of an organization together for engagement and alignment. (This meeting is sometimes called an all staff meeting.) Check out our free all-hands staff meeting template.

{{all-hands-meeting="/blog-inserts"}}

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Team meetings generally happen weekly within specific departments. Keep everyone focused on upcoming priorities with our free team meetings template.

{{team-meeting="/blog-inserts-6"}}

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Management meetings are for those in leadership positions. Re-focus managers and decision-makers with this free management meeting template.

{{monthly-management-meeting="/blog-inserts-4"}}

It’s also important to think about the first team meeting as a special consideration. When you come together with a new partner, or to organize a new project, your meeting will be run a little bit differently. First team meetings have to prioritize setting expectations and getting organized over making decisions and doing work.

But that doesn’t mean no substantive discussions will occur, or no decisions will be taken, or no tasks assigned. In fact, it’s a good idea to begin with some kind of substantive discussion, and at least a small decision, and at least on interesting or challenging task for everyone involved. There are at least two reasons for jumping right in. 

For one thing, there are the natural demands of business in a competitive environment. (Who has time to wait? The competition is certainly not delaying.)

The other reason is a matter of leadership. People like to work. They don’t like to be bored, or to wonder what’s really going to happen when the real meetings start. They like to be surprised, challenged, and to feel a sense of purpose.

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How do you start a staff meeting?

The best way to start a staff meeting is to jump right into it. Grab everyone’s attention with some quick comments that confirm why they’ve come to the meeting in the first place, and why it’s important.

Experts suggest opening the meeting using the IEEI framework: Inform, Excite, Empower, Involve.

  • Inform. Share the purpose of the meeting. And do it with a sense of how a marketer or headline-writer would. You don’t have to be cheesy. But there’s a reason marketers use attention-grabbing openings. People need that. People respond to it.
  • Excite. Explain why the outcome of the meeting is important. This is a different kind of excitement from the interest-grabbing “Inform” step just above. This is a deeper excitement about the purpose of the meeting as it relates to business goals – and as it relates to personal goals of the people involved.
  • Empower. Describe the authority that has been given to meeting participants. This is part of a culture of accountability. Individual team members are much more engaged when they have ownership of a task, and know that they will be rewarded in some emotionally significant way when they complete it well.
  • Involve. Use an engaging question or round-table discussion that furthers the meeting’s goals. The right questions are important, of course. But even more so are the right emotions with which you engage with team members. Tone is at least as important as the formulated questions and discussion frameworks. When you care about the outcome, and care about your team members, they will walk through walls to reach the goal.

Here’s an example of putting all these together.

Hey everyone. Thanks for making time this morning. (Inform) Since we started having these meetings once a week, I’ve noticed that the team is really up to speed on what everyone is doing. (Excite) We have some great data to share and (Empower) then I want to discuss strategies for next quarter and hear your input. (Involve) First, let’s go around and each share a quick win from the last week, big or small.

If you’re literally wondering what you should say to start a meeting, here are a few openers:

  1. "Since everyone’s here, let’s get started."
  2. "Let’s begin."
  3. "Good morning everyone. We’ve got a lot to get through so let’s get moving."
  4. "I’d like to welcome everyone from XYZ and thank you for taking time out of your day."
  5. "Shall we jump into it then?"
  6. "Alright, so getting started, first we have…"

{{go-further-with-hugo="/blog-inserts"}}

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How long should staff meetings last?

For many teams, meeting time is seen as “unlimited.” Even the word we use for unscheduled time suggests it has no value! As long as there is an open space in someone’s calendar, that time is “free” when it is anything but.

Not only is time scarce and costly, but when meetings run on too long, that time becomes even further undermined when people’s attention spans and creativity starts to wane.

Therefore, it’s important to match the length of any staff meeting with its purpose, taking into account how long people can pay attention and participate with high energy and focus.

Here's a guide to meeting length from the Vital Meetings handbook.

Ideal meeting lengths for team meetings


Whatever kind of staff meeting, make it succeed with the right tools and practices.

Whether it’s taking and sharing meeting notes or collaborating on agendas, Hugo’s got you covered. Learn more about what it means to have "meetings, tasks, and notes — all in one place."

And if you need more sample meeting agendas, hop on over to our library where you can download them as Word Docs (.docx), Google Docs, or add them to your free Hugo account.

Click the image to search more meeting templates.👇

Free Staff Meeting Agendas

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