Meetings can be a double-edged sword for team productivity. They can be a powerful tool for driving collaboration, communication, and decision-making within teams. However, they can also be a major productivity drain if not conducted effectively.

Managers spend between 35-50% of their time in meetings, yet 71% of those meetings are considered unproductive. Optimized meetings are a key lever for driving team productivity.

In order to build efficiency into your meeting culture, it’s important to follow some best practices:

  • Create clear and concise agendas and distribute them in advance.
  • Complete any necessary pre-work / pre-read to ensure meeting time is most effectively spent.
  • Understand the cost of meetings, especially for leadership.
  • Encourage active participation from all attendees.
  • Follow up on action items.

Survey data answering the question "How much time are tech workers spending in meetings per week?" 33% say 10-20 hours, 23% say 2-5 hours, 21% say 6-9 hours, 14% say 21-30 hours.
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Types of Meetings

In order to optimize your team’s meeting culture, it’s important to first understand the different types of meetings and their distinct purpose and optimal length.

Meeting Type Description Examples Typical Size Typical Outcome
Check-In A meeting focused on team members sharing updates, chatting through challenges, etc Daily Team Stand-Up Weekly Project Check-In 2-5 attendees Awareness
Career Check-In A structured and periodic meeting between an employee and their manager to discuss the individual's professional development, career goals, performance, and any challenges or concerns Quarterly Career Check-In Promotion Check-In 2 attendees Awareness
Collaboration A meeting centered around generating ideas, solving problems, and fostering creativity within a team Launch Plan Brainstorming Session Cross-Functional Collaboration Workshop 3-10 attendees Consideration
Decision A meeting focused on reaching consensus and making informed choices Budget Decision Meeting Strategic Partnerships Decision Session 3-10 attendees Action
Buy In A meeting designed to gain support and commitment from team members or stakeholders for a particular idea, proposal, or decision Product Launch Buy-In Meeting Strategic Initiative Buy-In Session 3-10 attendees Action
Info-Share A meeting focused on disseminating important information to team members New Team Member Onboarding Project Retrospective 3+ attendees Awareness
AMA An "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) meeting is an opportunity for team members or stakeholders to ask questions and engage in an open discussion with a specific individual Leadership AMA Session Product Team AMA 10+ attendees Awareness
All Hands A gathering that typically involves updates from leadership, important announcements, and an opportunity for employees to engage with the leadership team Monthly All-Hands Company Meeting Annual All-Hands Kickoff End-of-Year Celebration and Review 10+ attendees Awareness

Agenda Templates

A well-structured agenda is essential for an effective meeting. It helps to keep the meeting on track and ensures that all participants are prepared to discuss the relevant topics. By using our templates, you can create agendas that are clear, concise, and easy to follow.

Check-In

Weekly Project Check-In | 30-min

  1. Team Member Individual Updates (15 min) (3 min / update)
    Last week’s progress updates
    Last week’s key learnings
    This week’s priorities
  2. Discussion Items (10 min)
    Open questions
    Blockers or dependencies
  3. Action Items (5 min)
    Recap of any action items, including owner and deadline

Career Check-In

Quarterly Career Check-In | 30-min

  1. Opening (2 min)
    Introduction to meeting
    Agenda review and alignment
    Meeting output expectations
  2. Achievements & Milestones (15 min); Manager (10 min); Employee (5 min)
    Completed projects, successful outcomes, or positive feedback received
    New skills acquired or certifications obtained
    Personal highlights related to career growth
  3. Challenges & Opportunities (15 min); Manager (10 min); Employee (5 min)
    Current development challenges
    Opportunities for growth or improvement
    Strategies for overcoming challenges and capitalizing on opportunities
  4. Goal Setting and Development Plans (15 min); Manager (10 min); Employee (5 min)
    Career goals and aspirations
    Short-term and long-term goals for current role
    Potential steps and actions to achieve these goals
  5. Action Items (3 min)
    Recap of any action items, including owner and deadline

Collaboration

Launch Plan Brainstorming Session | 60-min

  1. Opening (5 min)
    Introduction to meeting, including context
    Rules for discussion
    Agenda review and alignment
    Meeting output expectations
  2. Idea Generation Session (35 min)
    Use a framework for the brainstorm
    Creative idea sharing
  3. Discussion and Prioritization (15 min)
    Use a framework for prioritization
    Discussion around the presented ideas, including exploring pros and cons and feasibility, risks, and benefits
    Refinement and prioritization
  4. Action Items (5 min)
    Recap of any action items, including owner and deadline

Decision

Strategic Partnerships Decision Session | 45-min

  1. Opening (5 min)
    Introduction to meeting, including decision points and context
    Agenda review and alignment
    Meeting output expectations
  2. Presentation of Options (10 min)
    Presentation of different options or proposals related to the decision points
  3. Discussion (15 min)
    Discussion around the presented options, including exploring pros and cons and feasibility, risks, and benefits
  4. Decision (10 min)
    Apply framework for making decision
  5. Action Items (5 min)
    Recap of any action items, including owner and deadline
    Discuss any follow-up meetings or check-ins related to the decisions

Buy-In

Product Launch Buy-In Meeting | 45-min

  1. Opening (5 min)
    Introduction to meeting, including decision points for buy-in and context
    Agenda review and alignment
    Meeting output expectations
  2. Context (15 min)
    Comprehensive overview of the idea, proposal, or decision that requires buy-in
    Relevant data, information, and background sharing
  3. Discussion (15 min)
    Open discussion to address any concerns or reservations
    Questions or feedback
  4. Closing and Action Items (10 min)
    Summary of key points and agreements
    Recap of any action items, including owner and deadline
    Discuss any follow-up meetings or check-ins related to the decisions

Info-Share

Onboarding Session for New Team Member | 60-min

  1. Opening (5 min)
    Introduction to meeting, including context
    Agenda review and alignment
    Meeting output expectations
  2. Onboarding Overview (30 min)
    Overview of the company culture, mission, and values
    Introduction to key team members and roles
    Walkthrough of essential policies, procedures, and tools
    Project Overview (20 min)
    Overview of initial project(s)
  3. Action Items (5 min)
    Recap of any action items, including owner and deadline
    Discuss any follow-up meetings or check-ins related to the decisions

Another example of an info-share meeting is a project retrospective.

AMA

Quarterly CEO AMA | 30-min

  1. Welcome and Introduction (5 minutes)
    Welcome everyone
    Agenda review and alignment
    Meeting output expectations
  2. Q&A (20 min)
    Questions from team members, either submitted in advance or asked live

All Hands

Quarterly Company All Hands | 60-min

  1. Welcome and Introduction (5 minutes)
    Welcome everyone
    Agenda review and alignment
    Meeting output expectations
  2. Presentation (40 min)
    Primary Presentation – key achievements, milestones, challenges, the vision for the future and strategic direction, etc.
    Department / Team Presentations – recent accomplishments, ongoing projects, etc.
    Recognition of outstanding individual and team achievements
  3. Q&A (15 min)
    Questions from team members, either submitted in advance or asked live

Feel free to adapt these examples based on your organization's specific needs and terminology.

Example of a meeting agenda
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Tools for Agenda Management

Preparing clear and concise agendas for team meetings is central to optimizing your organization’s meeting culture. Those agendas cannot live in silo, though. It’s critical to leverage the right tools to keep track of agendas so it’s easy to follow up on action items and refer back to past conversations. Here are some effective tools for agenda management:

That’s a Wrap

Meetings can be a great way to get everyone on the same page and get stuff done, but only if they're done right. Agendas are a core tenet of an effective meeting.

The templates we've provided are like blueprints for building great agendas. They give you a solid structure to follow, but feel free to adapt them to your specific needs and meeting types.

Remember, a good agenda is like a good roadmap—it guides you where you need to go and helps you avoid getting lost along the way. So, embrace the power of agendas and watch your meetings transform from time-wasters into productivity powerhouses. Happy meeting!