Nobody likes pointless meetings. You know the type—dragging on while you daydream about more important things you could be getting done, work-related or otherwise. It’s even worse when the purpose of a meeting is simply to share information that could have been sent in an email. Those types of meetings are simply painful.
When it comes to meeting “do’s and don’ts”, information-share and status update meetings usually fall firmly on the side of “don’t”. Meetings cost time and money, and we have too many communication tools available today to sit in meetings which are strictly communicative. If we set time aside to meet, there needs to be something happening that wouldn’t happen unless everyone in the room came together.
So, before we dig into the types of meetings worth having, do a quick check-in with your calendar. If you have too many meetings already, here are five reasons that could be why.
That said, what types of meetings are worthwhile? We’ve put together a list of five below.
- Brainstorming or innovation meetings
- Planning meetings
- Kick-off meetings
- Retrospective or post-mortem meetings
- Decision-making or problem-solving meetings
We have also included how to prepare for, structure, and manage each type of meeting, and we linked some sample agendas. These insights will help keep your meeting on track, your attendees engaged, and your workflow productive.
Let’s check them out.
Brainstorming or Innovation Meetings
Perhaps the most exciting type of meeting for a company to hold, brainstorming or innovation meetings let creative energy flow. There are meetings where ideas, both good and bad, are formed, pitched, and rejected or built upon. Truly effective innovation meetings are often where an organization’s most successful projects are born.
For meeting leaders who prefer more control, however, all that freedom can feel a bit too loose. To balance things out and keep brainstorming on track, it’s important to set an agenda that clearly outlines the creative goal. For marketing or campaign brainstorming, try using this free template from Hugo. And here’s one for other creative brainstorming endeavors.
Once the meeting begins and goals are laid out, pay attention to who participates and who is quiet. Make an effort to draw ideas out from everyone, and be sure to take great notes—the ideas may start flying too fast to remember them all!
After brainstorming, a planning meeting often follows. It’s time to figure out just how to execute that new innovative idea.
It’s important not to confuse this for an information-share meeting. Rather, planning meetings build upon information. Whether that is research conducted after brainstorming (can we really ship unpackaged coconuts for a marketing campaign?) or simply reviewing the post-mortem meeting minutes from last year’s project, attendees should arrive at a planning meeting already informed and ready to share helpful thoughts and insights.
As usual, a meeting agenda is key to preparation. Consider this meeting template for content planning, or this for sprint planning. There are also ones for marketing campaign and even quarterly planning if you need them. Once in the meeting, use the agenda as a guide, and be sure to assign next steps at the end of the meeting to put the plan into action.
Once your team has made a plan, it’s time to kick it off! To be fair, not every project requires a kick-off meeting. However, if there are key team members who were not a part of planning, these types of meetings can be helpful to ensure everyone is starting on the same page.
To prepare for a kick-off meeting, consider reviewing this agenda template. It’s designed for a marketing campaign, but can be adapted to just about any project or purpose. The goals of this meeting are to bring clarity to the project, make final decisions, and ensure every team member understands their role and next steps.
If planning has gone well, this meeting should be easy to manage and even a little exciting! After all, the team is hopefully embarking on a fresh project with everyone’s input and investment.
Retrospective or Post-Mortem Meetings
As a project or campaign runs its course, share information and updates via email, virtual workspaces, or any other of the many communication tools available today. Ideally, unless something goes horribly awry, you won’t need another meeting until the plan has reached its conclusion. At that point, it’s time for a post-mortem or retrospective meeting.
The goal of retrospective and post-mortem meetings is to reflect on successes and shortcomings and make suggestions for the future. Because of this, recording the minutes of the meeting is especially important since they may be used by others to inform future planning and decisions. Check out our minutes of meeting samples and templates to best prepare for these meetings. These will help you take great meeting notes.
It’s important while managing this meeting to be receptive to feedback, even if it’s hard to hear. Rehashing successes will be fun, but the tough stuff is what future success is built on.
Decision-Making or Problem-Solving Meetings
Our last type of meeting worth having shifts away from project management. Not all worthy meetings, after all, come from developing, executing, and reflecting on campaigns or other efforts.
For example, executive teams often have to make budgeting or other financial decisions. A sudden change in business regulations or the market may require some problem-solving. These events tend to require board meetings, which can be formal or, in the case of start-ups, perhaps informal. The agenda templates in those links should help with preparation. Alternately, this one for an executive strategy session may better fit your needs.
Especially in the case of formal decision-making meetings, using Robert’s Rules of Order is considered the standard format for running a meeting and keeping minutes. Even less formal meetings, however, can benefit from adopting their own version of the rules. They are based on a democratic approach that gives each attendee’s vote equal weight, something many meeting rooms could benefit from.
Not All Types of Meetings are Created Equal
When it comes to effective meetings worth the time and effort, it’s important to prepare, structure, and manage them in a way that includes and engages everyone in the room. This can be tough, especially if your meeting requires a PowerPoint presentation.
Fortunately, there are many meeting tools available today which can help—even if attendees aren’t all physically in the same room.
Not seeing a meeting type you’re looking for? Don’t fret; there are many others such as 1-on-1’s, onboarding, and general meetings which are certainly worthy when done right. To plan them, check out our 80+ free meeting agenda templates and get on the path to effective meetings.
With all the types of meetings out there, the first step is to identify which one is right for the goals you’d like to achieve. What type of meeting are you going to have?