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The Five Types of Work Meetings
Direct communication is invaluable to any organization. Let’s look at five types of meetings, what they are for, their strengths and weaknesses, as well as tips for getting the most out of them.
The Purpose of Meetings
The purpose of meetings is to generate clarity, collaboration, a singularity of purpose, solve problems, reduce waste, and promote the active development of winning strategies for success. While other forms of communication like memos, email, posters, and videos can relay a message, they cannot deliver transformative thinking live and in-person how a face-to-face meeting can. While the selected team meeting topics for discussion certainly matter, it is the form and the quality of a meeting that makes it impactful.
Every meeting can be categorized according to four metrics. These metrics determine the nature of a meeting and help inform the preparation and follow-up activities. They are:
The size of a meeting can range from one-on-one to a conference event. Larger meetings are usually the least frequent and most ceremonial types of meetings because of the sheer scope of logistics involved. The size of a meeting determines how many people can receive messages and communicate ideas about relevant staff meeting topics.
Ceremony refers to the formality or informality of a meeting. Meetings with a high level of formality adhere strictly to their distributed agendas, and meeting minutes are meticulously kept and documented. This isn’t to say formal meetings stifle open communication, but that topics are structured to narrow the focus. On the other end, casual meetings are more free-flowing, and often include a list of subjects up for discussion and freedom to jump around as necessary.
Generally, the more frequent certain types of staff meetings are, the smaller their scope. A daily meeting will tend to focus on the concerns of the day or the week, and participants will expect the topics for team meetings of this kind to be updated on the following day or week. More extended, in-depth types of meetings in a company will focus on professional and personal development, growing the organization, and corporate cultural concerns.
Rigor refers to the level of effort required of the meeting participants. A daily finance report is likely a relaxed and routine meeting that may not require intense discussions or heavy conversations. In contrast, an emergency brainstorming session would require a high level of focus and more considerable effort from participants.
With all these metrics in mind, we could consider a couple of types of meetings in a company that look very similar in many regards but are quite different due to their character. In the following examples, we will rate the Size, Ceremony, Frequency, and Rigor metrics on a scale from 1 to 5.
All Company Meeting
Size: 5 (every employee)
Ceremony: 3 (structured presentations)
Frequency: 1 (once a year)
Rigor: 1 (attention and presence only)
One on One Meeting
Size: 1 (two people)
Ceremony: 1 (career goals, project updates, roadblocks)
Frequency: 4 (every Tuesday)
Rigor: 4 (conversations and decisions)
Looking at these two examples, we can see how each of these metrics can have an enormous impact on the character and makeup of the meeting, thereby necessitating varying approaches.
Types of Meetings
As every meeting lands on each of those four metrics, let’s take a look at groups of like meetings as well as some examples in each of those categories.
Team meetings are internal meetings that are typically limited to members of a particular department. These meetings can range in size from small to medium. They are usually casual and frequent. Common types of team meetings include:
- Marketing meetings: Content planning meetings, campaign kickoff meetings, launch review meetings, and sales metrics overview debriefings are common examples of this type of meeting
- Sales meetings: Types of sales meetings include weekly sales rallies, call coaching sessions and pipeline review meeting
- Customer support meetings: These include customer onboarding teleconferences, feedback interviews, and periodic check-ins
- HR meetings: Employee onboarding meetings, exit interviews, and annual review meetings are common examples
Team meetings benefit from the expression of clear objectives, and the laying out of incentives. Motivating teams of sales reps can benefit from using alternative meeting spots like a parking lot or basketball court. Anything to keep team members motivated and customers excited about the services they can expect will win the day in team meetings.
One on one meetings often have an essential role in leadership development. These types of meetings allow managers to catch up with individuals, offer coaching, guidance, and feedback. Whether communicated explicitly or implicitly, regular one on one meetings allow the manager to communicate direction and help the more junior employee grow. As these meetings occur between just two individuals, they are often frequent, usually casual, and relatively relaxed. Some types of 1:1s include:
- Weekly one on one meetings
- Goal setting one on one briefings
- Skip level meetings
Skip level meetings give company leaders the chance to talk with individuals with whom they might not regularly interact. For the employee, these can be a special opportunity to ask candid questions or provide a voice to ideas gleaned from a unique perspective.
One on one meetings require management to skillfully select the right person to develop into higher-level roles through these meetings. They are often linear and require constant updating of past and present goals and objectives. These meetings should take place in the same location each time in most cases to cement the sense of regularity and trust. In many cases, there should be at least a feeling of mentorship.
Another example of a one on one meeting might be between peers such as department heads or branch managers. Regular meetings of this kind might be done to discuss mid-level strategy in a relatively informal way. In some cases, reports will be made to higher executives about the contents and results of these meetings.
Formal meetings generally take place between executives and leaders. Like board meetings, these are regularly scheduled affairs that typically involve a high level of intensity, making the discussions and decisions critical to any organization’s success.
Types of formal meetings
Meetings of this kind tend to be intensely goal-oriented. As such, they benefit from a direct and no-nonsense approach. Goals and expectations should be laid out clearly. Each participant should be prepared to contribute thought leadership or progress in obtaining significant opportunities, new clients, contributors, or assets.
Project meetings are most often held between a product/development team, engineering team, design team, or a combination of these groups. Some of these teams adopt an Agile methodology, such as Scrum, which provides a functional framework for these meetings.
Types of meetings in project management
- Product Meetings: project check-ins, daily stand-ups, and roadmap refinement meetings
- Design Meetings: critiques, design workshops, and user research interviews
- Agile meetings and ceremonies like daily scrum meetings, retrospectives, sprint planning meetings, and sprint reviews
Like a formal meeting, participants should be prepared to present their progress, insights, and achievements. Specific markers for completion will be required, with each member entering in with clear expectations.
Meetings with clients and customers allow us to showcase customer experience and to build relationships with partners. Depending on your business and brand culture, these meetings may fit anywhere on each of the four metrics.
The scale, style, location, and tone of these client meetings will depend much on the nature of your product or service, the character of the client, and the relationship you’ve previously developed.
Setting up client meetings could be said to be more of an art than a discipline. The event should be designed to make the customer feel welcome and to present a positive outlook.