As a manager or leader, you don’t just set the meeting agenda for high-level meetings. You set the tone, tempo, and expectations.
So in addition to the agenda templates you can download on this page, we’ve compiled several resources to help you meet better. Those resources are contained in the sections that follow, where you'll find:
- Meeting secrets from executives like Reed Hastings (Netflix CEO) and Oprah Winfrey (OWN CEO).
- How to run a meeting as an executive, plus common one-on-one meeting mistakes to avoid.
- Previews of our collection of agenda examples.
- Frequently asked questions about leadership and management meetings.
Meeting secrets from 5 top executives
If there's one overarching takeaway from the top executives' approaches to meetings that we studied, it's that there's no single, best approach.
In the section below, pick up a few nuggets of meeting wisdom from Facebook, Disney, Twitter, OWN, and Netflix executives.
- Start all meetings with each attendee getting a chance to discuss their emotional and professional state.
- Set a clear goal for every meeting, i.e. to make a decision or have a discussion.
- End meetings early if all items are completed, which should happen often.
- The leader’s primary role is to "reduce blocks to candor."
- Reduce the fear meeting attendees may feel in anticipation of being wrong, offending someone, or triggering retaliation.
- Encourage exploration of myriad trains of thought, in an additive (not competitive) manner.
Oprah Winfrey, OWN CEO
- Kick off each meeting with three questions: What is our intention for this meeting? What's important? And what matters?
- Minimize time in meetings.
- If it can be done through an email, don't hold a meeting.
Jack Dorsey, Twitter and Square CEO
- Dedicate each day of the week to a different area of focus, i.e. Mondays for leadership meetings, Tuesdays for product meetings, etc.
- Build repetition into your schedule.
Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO
- End each meeting with this question: “Have we made any decisions today, and if so, how are we going to communicate them?”
- For senior management meetings, board members may occasionally observe, but not participate.
- Prioritize memos over presentations for board communications with directors.
6 common one-on-one meeting mistakes
Of all the meetings you hold as a leader, one-on-one meetings might be the most underrated in terms of impact. As a result, many managers don’t dedicate the time and attention necessary.
But by avoiding a few critical mistakes, you—and your employees—can get a lot more out of your one-on-one’s. With that, here are some of the most common one-on-one meeting mistakes to avoid.
Treating one-on-ones like a freeform jam session
Solution: One-on-one meetings don’t need a strict agenda, but expecting to wing them without any goals in mind will make them significantly less effective. To add structure to your one-on-one’s, download (or copy and paste) our Manager Weekly 1:1 agenda template.
Dodging or avoiding uncomfortable topics
Solution: Since you can’t know how team members are dealing with company events, you need to create space for them to discuss. Use one-on-one meetings to address any recent changes or challenges head-on rather than pretend they don’t exist.
Rescheduling or showing up late often
Solution: Even if you have the best excuse, making a habit of rescheduling or showing up late shows a lack of respect for your colleagues. Find a way to minimize late arrivals or reschedules. For example, if you’re often running from meeting to meeting, build a buffer between meetings to give yourself enough time to recover.
Treating them as an opportunity to grab a coffee
Solution: New scenery can be a nice change of pace. But scenery can’t make up for substance and one-on-one’s shouldn’t be an excuse to take a break from work. Make sure you have something meaningful to talk about, regardless of location.
Focusing your energy on your laptop or things on your screen
Solution: Engage with the person across the table (or screen). Failing to do so creates distance between you and your direct reports.
Becoming defensive or dismissive when challenged
Solution: The psychological safety needed for people to speak up erodes in seconds when managers become dismissive when receiving feedback. Maintain an open mind, even when feedback catches you off-guard.
Management Meetings: Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Structure a Management Meeting?
Here’s the agenda we’d recommend you use to structure your management meeting:
- Review Metrics/KPIs - Start with high-level data to keep the pulse on your organization
- Company Update - Any major topics work spending time on with this important group?
- Department/Team Lead Roundtable - Have team leads give a quick overview of recent wins, current priorities, and anywhere they are stuck or need help
- Problem-Solving Session - Choose one major challenge or opportunity. Give an overview and ask your team for feedback or insight
- Next Steps - Always leave a spot on your agenda for next steps as a reminder to document and assign all tasks from the meeting
What Should a Manager Say in a First Meeting?
In the first meeting with their new team, a manager should—above all—get to know her team. Other important things to cover are:
- Setting Team Expectations
- Feedback (for you as a new manager)
What Do You Talk About in a Leadership Meeting?
In leadership meetings, the top management team meets to make strategic decisions about how to approach the most important opportunities and problems the company faces. If the decision can’t be made during the leadership meeting, the team discusses when and how they’ll reach a decision and who must be involved in granting final approval.