How to plan to effective and engaging team meetings

Thomas Paris
January 5, 2022
How to plan to effective and engaging team meetings

Team meetings are an essential component of any organization, but it’s easy to overdo them. According to a TED Talk report from David Grady and Jason Fried, most employees attend an average of 62 meetings per month — meaning an average of more than two per workday. 

They also point out that 33% of all meetings wind up being a waste of time. But if more than one-third of team meetings are unnecessary, why do we insist on holding so many?

It’s time to get more intentional about what team meetings we hold, and why. In this guide, we’ll outline reasons why you should host team meetings, and how to plan them. We’ll also provide an explanation of the different kinds of meetings that exist in the corporate world.

Why should you host team meetings?

Each meeting should have a unique goal you hope to achieve. There are several reasons why people would want to host a meeting, but it’s up to your specific situation. Think about what goals you want to accomplish in advance, and set out a course of action in order to reach them.

two people shaking hands on pink background

1. Discuss problems and find solutions

One of the main reasons why meetings are useful is to discuss problems that have hampered your team or company in general. Having several people connect in a virtual meeting or in-person gathering gives your group a chance to voice any concerns, while also providing an important opportunity to find solutions to those issues.

2. Ask questions and provide answers

Asking questions to your team is necessary in building a reliable system of communication. Perhaps you want a status update on some projects, or simply want to ask your team how they’re feeling. But team meetings aren’t just meant for you asking them questions. They’re also important because they give your employees a chance to ask YOU questions, and for you to provide them with answers.

3. Generate ideas with feedback

Another common reason to plan a team meeting is for brainstorming purposes. It’s not easy to come up with ideas by yourself, so encouraging group discussion can lead to much stronger suggestions. Open up your brainstorming meetings as a way to generate audience engagement, and you’ll reap the rewards of hearing additional creative ideas.

4. Strengthen team building

Team meetings also offer an excellent chance to develop friendships through team building activities. Get creative by implementing some teamwork games or exercises into your conferences as a way for employees to work together. These team building tactics are often used in meetings for new groups, but don’t hesitate trying them if you believe that your veteran team could use a dynamic boost.

5. Make important decisions

Even if your company doesn’t like overdoing the amount of team meetings, they will still call one if it’s meant to help make important decisions. Whether it’s a team-wide vote or a detailed discussion about critical business matters, those deliberations can typically be resolved best through group meetings, which is why they’re such a widely-used strategy across the corporate world.

How to plan effective team meetings

Because there are so many different reasons to host meetings, there is no uniform plan that covers organizing each one. However, there are a few overlapping themes to keep in mind as you try to plan effective and engaging team meetings.

two team members happy saying okay on lemon background

1. Invite the right people

Make sure that you limit your meetings to the people who really need to be there. Bringing in a massive audience doesn’t necessarily lead to more engaging discussions. In fact, a large audience can result in several people feeling disinterested and ignoring proper meeting etiquette. Decide what type of meeting works best, evaluate who should be there, and try to make it productive for everyone so that no one feels like their time was wasted.

2. Have a flexible agenda

No matter how much planning goes into it, prepare yourself in advance for inevitable changes by crafting a flexible meeting agenda. Anticipate that certain talks will run longer than planned, so think about ways to trim time from other portions of the meeting to keep it on track. Nobody wants to spend extra time in a conference that was supposed to be quick, so respect your team’s time by being flexible in terms of adjusting the schedule.

3. Keep them as brief as possible

If your meeting actually finishes faster than expected, don’t feel obligated to fill the planned time window - just wrap up the meeting early. Always ask your group if there’s anything they would like to discuss before dismissing them, but keeping your meetings as brief as possible can result in a more engaged audience. And in the event of a long meeting, remember to schedule some breaks so that everyone doesn’t feel exhausted by the end of it.

4. Plan engaging ideas

We’ve all been involved in meetings before that drag on to the point where we lose our focus. One of our best team meeting tips is to produce creative ideas that will encourage participation. You can try using gamification through various activities to keep people’s attention, or even offer rewards to those who provide the best meeting feedback. These are just a few ideas that can lead to more employee engagement, but select whatever works best for your team as motivation to follow along.

5. Ensure productive feedback

The main goal for staging a meeting is often to get productive feedback, so make sure that generating discussion is prioritized. Encouraging honest communication is one of the best team meeting practices, and that openness will generally result in useful ideas or sound decision-making. So whether you’re planning virtual team meetings or in-person ones, make sure to keep the atmosphere open and honest in order to get the best possible feedback.

6. Learn how your team feels about meetings

Most importantly, you should ask your team how they feel about meetings in general. Not every job or team is the same — some will want lots of meetings, while others will want to limit them. Similarly, find out what types of team meetings your employees prefer. Being able to deliver the desired amount of meetings as well as the preferred discussion style will help you provide each of your workers the most effective meeting experiences.

What are the different types of meetings?

two people jumping on orange background

As mentioned already, not all meetings follow the same structure. There are several team meeting examples to choose from when deciding how to plan one, so consider what your goals are along with your company’s unique situation, and then pick the kind of gathering that works best for you.

1. Brainstorming Meetings

Brainstorming sessions have been around forever and remain one of the most common types of meetings in the corporate world. Sometimes you need to assemble your team together in order to generate fresh ideas. These discussions are typically used by managers with their employees as a way to come up with new business ventures or solve problems on existing projects. They let your workers truly feel like part of the team, which helps both their individual growth and your company overall.

2. One-on-One Meetings

These meetings involve only two parties as a way to chat informally. They can involve meeting individually with a certain member of your team, or also be geared towards meeting with a client in a one-on-one environment. These discussions are often intended for more serious or personal discussions, as their intimate setting allows for honest conversation. They’re also helpful if you have enough time to do a bunch of meetings yourself, but don’t want your team to be equally occupied.

3. Skip Level Meetings

Skip level meetings are a form of one-on-one discussions that involve employees speaking with higher-ups working above their manager. If you’re the team manager, you should consider these meetings as a way to provide your employees with an opportunity to speak freely. They also offer your workers some possible networking connections within the organization, and they’re beneficial to the higher-up executives because it lets them get a better sense of their company culture.

4. Onboarding Meetings

Whenever a new person joins your team, there’s always a period where they need to get familiar with your company’s workflow and expectations. Onboarding meetings assist in that process, as they’re designed to help acclimate workers to a new setting. These types of discussions can involve specific training tips or be structured as more casual transitions. Employee onboarding is especially vital with the rise of remote employees, making these effective team meetings quite important to master.

5. Team Building Meetings

Team building is important to any successful business, and team virtual events are a great way to build office camaraderie. These meetings are all about bringing people together through fun activities. They help connect new teams through icebreaker questions or group games, but they’re also good for experienced teams because everyone appreciates a break to unwind with co-workers. Lots of corporate meetings tend to be serious, so use these ones whenever a fun boost of positive energy is needed.

6. Kickoff Meetings

If you’re about to start a new project, it’s key to get everyone involved together as a way to begin the venture. Kickoff meetings are generally the first meeting between clients and other stakeholders with the manager and team members responsible for the project. You can divide the chat up into micro-meetings with each group involved if you want to limit audience size. These conferences are crucial because everyone wants to start their projects off efficiently, so have a detailed plan prepared.

7. Project Update Meetings

Once your project is underway, it’s necessary to keep the people involved updated on its progress. Scheduling project update meetings with your team members and clients helps everyone share where they’re at in the venture, which is a great way to alleviate concerns and collectively find solutions to any problems being encountered. These meetings should be relatively frequent because it’s vital to have each member of a project aligned on the same page.

Hoppier: an easy tool to keep your team meetings productive

Keeping people focused is arguably the biggest challenge you face when learning how to run a meeting. Effective catering helps take care of your hungry guests before they drift away during important discussions, but this is a particularly daunting task for virtual events with an audience that’s spread out in various locations.

Thankfully, Hoppier is a simple solution to those concerns. Our system lets you customize a set of virtual cards however you’d like in terms of design and money, which can then be sent digitally to each of your attendees. Unlike traditional catering services, we have a long list of vendors for people to choose from, meaning everyone will be happy to order food and drinks they’ll love from companies that will deliver the items swiftly.

hoppier screenshot forhosting engaging team meetings

Whether you want to wow your guests with imaginative catering ideas, or simply impress them with a seamless order of virtual coffee for everyone to enjoy, Hoppier is an easy tool to make your team meetings productive and memorable. Save your conferences from losing people’s attention, and save yourself the headache of organizing a complicated catering process!

Team meetings are about quality over quantity

As we’ve explained in this guide, there’s always going to be a need for team meetings. But before you plan any, think it over to see how you can run the most productive ones. Is this meeting really necessary? If so, what type of meeting should it be? Who needs to be there? And how can we make the best use of everyone’s time? Asking yourself these kinds of questions will save you from straining your staff with too many meetings, and will lead to more effective team communication.

It’s not a secret - the best team meetings are ones where your guests are all upbeat and focused. To learn more about improving audience engagement, check out our webinar on how to overcome the challenges of running successful virtual events.

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