Have you ever walked into a meeting without really knowing why you are there? Or worse, sat through an hour-long meeting only to leave with no clear direction or actionable next steps?
In this article, we're diving into the best ways to create an effective team meeting agenda to help you and your team avoid the frustrating and costly consequences of unproductive meetings.
Here is a brief overview of what we'll cover:
Team meetings are an opportunity for teams to come together – either in-person or remotely – to share information, discuss ideas, and make decisions. These meetings help team members align on collective goals and map out steps to achieve them. They also create a space for teams to strengthen relationships and improve team cohesion.
The team meeting agenda is the foundation for information sharing and collaboration during the meeting. The agenda clearly outlines meeting objectives, discussion topics, goals, and action items. A well-designed meeting agenda keeps everyone on the same page before, during, and after the meeting. It helps teams save time with meeting prep, keeps conversations focused during the session, and provides structure and accountability for post-meeting action items.
In short, an effective meeting agenda is an invaluable tool that helps teams save time, be more prepared, and get more out of every session together.
Team meetings are an essential part of daily business operations. From daily stand-up meetings to quarterly planning meetings, there are many different reasons why teams need to meet. Before you can determine how to structure your next meeting, it's important to know the various types and functions of a team meeting.
Below is a list of standard team meeting types, along with free team meeting agenda templates provided by Hugo, a leading meeting management software used by more than 30,000 teams worldwide. To access Hugo's entire library of 80+ meeting templates, click here.
A stand-up meeting is a short meeting (typically less than 15 minutes) where teams provide high-level updates. Many companies use stand-up meetings for their product teams, sales teams, service teams, etc.
The daily scrum meeting is another type of stand-up meeting to help teams create a brief plan for performing their work in a sprint (i.e., a short time). This meeting type is generally used by software engineers, marketing teams, and product managers.
The weekly team meeting is essential for all teams. It is used to celebrate wins, review data, give updates, and create action plans. This meeting also helps keep your entire team aligned on ongoing projects while preparing to take on new, upcoming priorities. For remote teams, check out the Remote Weekly Meeting structure.
The weekly manager meeting is exclusively used by management teams. This weekly meeting brings managers from all departments together to share wins, set weekly goals, and align on company-wide projects or priorities.
Like the daily scrum meeting above, the weekly sprint meeting is a short meeting used by teams to review priorities, delegate tasks, and discuss priorities for the upcoming week.
An employee onboarding meeting is an opportunity for teams to welcome a new hire and integrate them into the team and company culture. This meeting covers things like company information, company culture, roles and responsibilities, team introductions, and more.
The first team meeting is essential for all new teams. This meeting helps build rapport, establish team expectations, and set the tone for how the team will work together to achieve long-term success.
A catch-up meeting is used by two or more team members who haven't interacted with one another in a while. This meeting aims to strengthen individual relationships rather than addressing pressing items or objectives.
The product team meeting is used by product teams, managers, designers, and engineers. This type of meeting typically focuses on product-specific OKRs, analytics, and strategy.
The project check-in meeting is an excellent way for teams to check in on all the moving parts of a project so they can stay on target with deadlines or milestones. This meeting can be held weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly and is used by all types of teams.
The all-hands meeting brings everyone in the company together and is typically hosted by the CEO. The CEO uses this time to highlight the company vision, review key metrics, and dive deep into company strategy or structure changes. Managers or department leaders may also provide updates during this meeting.
Now that we've reviewed some of the different meeting types, let's discuss the essential components of an effective team meeting agenda.
If time allows, consider including 1 – 2 check-in questions on the agenda to kick off the meeting. Check-in questions give everyone a chance to share timely personal or professional updates. Briefly checking in with your team members can build rapport and create more personal connections within the group.
Review the meeting goals and purpose before moving on to any other agenda items. The meeting purpose clarifies why people are showing up and defines the meeting intentions. If meeting discussions go off-topic, team members can point back to the purpose to refocus the conversation without causing conflict.
Allow each team member to briefly share what they've been working on – including progress, obstacles, achievements, and any other information that might be valuable to the entire team. To save time in this section, ask team members to summarize their updates in 2 – 5 bullet points on the agenda before the meeting.
Highlighting positive wins during meetings is a great way to call out the team's progress towards larger goals and boost team morale. This meeting section is also an excellent opportunity to recognize an employee's individual efforts. Including time for recognition in your meeting agenda is statistically proven to help maintain motivation and improve employee engagement.
After defining the meeting purpose and sharing updates, shift the meeting conversation to the main focus of the meeting – whether that's sharing customer feedback, discussing industry trends, or reviewing new data. Narrow the data to 3 – 5 relevant metrics that align with the goals or purpose of the meeting to avoid wasting time reviewing redundant or irrelevant information.
After evaluating key performance metrics, work together to identify the roadblocks or challenges preventing the team from accomplishing a goal or moving a project forward. Use your allotted time in this section to discuss and debate possible solutions to the issue(s) at hand. Work together to produce consensus-driven decisions that help move the needle forward.
A meeting without follow-through or accountability is a waste of valuable time. Leave ample time on the agenda for outlining and assigning action items. Make sure action items are written down and assigned to the appropriate party. Use online tools like Hugo to capture meeting notes, decisions, and action items in real-time to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
Use the last 5 – 10 minutes of the meeting to wrap up the discussion, highlight any decisions, and review the next steps. Discuss the strategies and communication required to implement the proposed action plan. Assign someone to publish the meeting notes, sharing meeting insights and outcomes with all necessary individuals.
Set the expectation that everyone is responsible for completing pre-meeting homework before attending the meeting. This expectation will ensure that everyone is informed and on the same page before entering the meeting room.
This pre-meeting homework can include tasks like reading the meeting agenda, reviewing previous meeting notes, adding feedback to agenda items, or preparing updates for the team. Meeting management software - like Hugo – helps facilitate and streamline pre-meeting homework by linking past meeting notes and agendas directly to your team's calendar, so you are never searching for important meeting documents.
A well-designed meeting agenda is the best way to ensure that your next team meeting is structured, focused, and actionable. Thousands of teams use Hugo to create, share, and manage their team meeting agendas. This centralized, actionable meeting notes app will transform how you and your team host meetings. With Hugo, you can streamline your meeting prep and save time by preparing your meeting agenda with Hugo's library of 80+ customizable, one-click templates.
Before sending out too many meeting invites, consider the intent and purpose of the meeting. Too many voices and opinions can reduce the effectiveness and productivity of the meeting. Similarly, carefully select meeting participants when confidential or sensitive information is being shared.
After you've selected your list of attendees for the meeting, list each attendee's specific roles and responsibilities on the meeting agenda (e.g., David will review customer feedback survey results). Setting clear guidelines for the meeting will help guide individual preparations and ensure that everyone knows what is expected of them when they enter the meeting room.
Avoid getting bogged down in updates or prolonged discussions during your sessions. Utilize the meeting agenda to structure the discussions around predetermined goals and objectives. Then, close out each conversation with an action item or task (if applicable).
Meeting notes are the best way for teams to track what was accomplished, what responsibilities were given, and what decisions were made during the meeting. Using a digital meeting agenda, teams can easily collaborate in real-time and take detailed meeting notes in one centralized place. That way, all meeting discussions, outcomes, and actions are recorded and easily shareable.
Assign someone to keep track of time during the meeting. Even consider using a stopwatch if meeting discussions tend to go off on tangents and distract from the meeting purpose.
If discussions or decisions derail the meeting agenda, put them in the "parking lot" and assign someone to follow up on the issue via email or during the next meeting. Also, by keeping the meeting short, ideally under an hour, you can create a sense of urgency and keep conversations moving as intended.
Never let another meeting action item fall through the cracks. Effective follow-through and accountablity are key to successful meeting outcomes. Consider using online meeting and task management tools to automate the process of creating, assigning, and tracking meeting action items.
When applicable, share meeting takeaways and insights with other team members or departments to keep everyone informed and updated on your team's progress. With apps like Hugo, you can share meeting outcomes directly with other team members via popular team communication apps like Slack or Microsoft Teams.
Think critically about the format of your team meeting and adjust the plan to keep discussions fresh and relevant. Seek out feedback on the structure of your meetings and get topic suggestions from staff members by issuing meeting effectiveness surveys. This type of feedback exchange increases engagement during sessions and inevitability improves meeting outcomes.
Team meeting software is a type of meeting management software designed to help teams streamline and optimize their meeting workflow.
A good meeting cadence keeps teams connected without bogging people down with too many meetings.