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13 Tips for CEOs on Meeting With Staff [+ Free Templates]

Check out our 13 tips on how to effectively host all types of meetings with your employees. Plus, get free templates!

By Brier Cook  •   January 25, 2023  •   8 min read

As the head of a company, time is one of your most precious assets. It’s essential to optimize every meeting in your busy schedule so you can manage company operations and make major corporate decisions. It’s also important to meet regularly with staff to inspire trust, improve employee engagement, and learn what happens at each level of the organization. 

Don’t reserve your open-door policy for the executive team. There are many ways you can connect with your employees from roundtables to luncheons and town hall meetings. 

Read on for our 13 best practices for successfully meeting with your employees in any format.

13 tips for CEOs when meeting with staff

1Sit at the same level as your staff 

If you’re hosting an in-person meeting, opt to sit at the same level as your employees. It may be unnecessarily intimidating for staff to meet with you if you’re standing or sitting at a high level while they’re sitting. Choose a room that is one level to create a friendly dynamic. 

If you’re hosting a virtual meeting, don’t spotlight yourself as a speaker in the “Zoom room.” Use the gallery view during group discussions, roundtables, and town halls to create an around-the-campfire atmosphere. 

Run efficient meetings, come to a decision, and get back to work

Level up your meeting habits to boost engagement and productivity with a collaborative meeting agenda. Try a tool like Fellow!

2Open with an icebreaker

If you lead a small company or are meeting with one team within your organization, open with an icebreaker. Icebreakers are a great way to break down social barriers, create a relaxed environment, and build rapport with colleagues. An icebreaker can be as simple as an opening question or a more complex team-building game. The icebreaker should engage everyone early on, and most importantly, get your team thinking. For example, starting the conversation with a question like, “How many of you want a business strategy that works this year?” will have your teammates eager to chat about their ideas for a new week, month, or quarter. 

3Write a meeting purpose statement

A meeting purpose statement is a note to staff that clearly explains why you’re hosting the meeting. Having a purpose statement will help you focus on an objective so the meeting is as productive as possible. It will also ensure you have all the materials needed to successfully host—like an agenda, team-building activities, and presentation slides. 

Circulate your meeting purpose statement to all participants at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting so everyone can come prepared with questions, discussion topics, and feedback. 

4Follow a meeting agenda

Use a collaborative meeting agenda to guide you and your teammates through items you want to discuss. Time spent planning an agenda will save time for all participants by providing a clear set of objectives, topics, and time frames for each item. 

Did you know that you can level up your meeting habits using Fellow? Say goodbye to unproductive meetings with our collaborative agendas, real-time note taking, and a variety of time-saving templates. As the leader of your company, you can also use Fellow to build a feedback culture and track real-time feedback on meetings, recent projects, and performance. 

Pro tip: Take your meeting to the next level by downloading Fellow’s Browser Extensions (Chrome and Firefox). With Fellow’s browser extensions, access your meeting notes right inside of Google Meet calls and your Google Calendar to supercharge staff meetings without leaving the tools that you are already using.

5Celebrate employee wins

Meetings with your team provide a perfect opportunity to celebrate big and small wins. Take a few minutes during each meeting with an employee, team, department, or the whole company to give shoutouts to individuals and groups that are producing excellent work. 

Giving positive feedback will encourage your team to work hard and get results for the company. It will also allow your employees to understand the impact of their actions, identify areas for improvement, and celebrate their successes. 

With Fellow, you can make celebrating wins a regular process by using a recurring template with a “wins” heading. This will continuously encourage team members to give each other shout-outs.

6Record and share the meetings

As the head of your company, it’s important that you’re honest, open, and transparent with your employees. In fact, transparency is a core value at some of the more successful organizations. Record and share any virtual meetings with staff who aren’t able to attend or provide meeting notes to participants who weren’t included to add context to high-level company decisions. Communicate widely and authentically to build trust within your workforce. Keep staff in the loop about the company’s status so everyone has a chance to buy in and share your vision for the future. 

7Ask thought-provoking questions

Ask questions during each meeting that encourage employee participation and engagement. Start or end roundtable discussions, town halls, and team meetings with questions such as:

  • What’s one new thing that we should prioritize this quarter?
  • On a scale of 1–10, how happy is your team or department at the moment? Why?
  • What is the biggest challenge that your team is currently facing? How can I support you in working through this roadblock?

8Give praise to your staff

Whether you like it or not, you hold a lot of power over how your employees perceive the company. During meetings, be sure to compliment your colleagues’ skills and achievements. Take the guesswork out of what you’re praising by being specific. Describe positive behaviors you see, use words of affirmation, and reward accomplishments. If you don’t have time during a meeting, follow up with the participants by email with a note that compliments their efforts to boost morale. 

9Encourage staff to participate in the discussion

Give all participants a chance to speak up and provide input. Roundtable discussions and town hall formats are especially helpful for occasions when you’re looking for new ideas and feedback. When staff feels empowered to participate, a culture of shared decision-making is sure to happen. 

Encourage participation by sending a collaborative meeting agenda in Fellow and asking participants to add their talking points. You can even go a step further and assign different agenda sections to different individuals and groups to promote involvement. 

10Plan time for a Q&A

At the end of every meeting, leave at least 10 or 15 minutes for questions. Your staff has the right to ask you about major company decisions that will affect their work and lives. Prepare responses to common questions you believe might be asked in the case that no one speaks up. 

11Take collaborative meeting notes 

Meeting notes should include a record of talking points, decisions, and key insights discussed during a meeting. Designate a notetaker during each meeting. Notes should include things like the time, date, place, attendees, agenda items, questions discussed, action items or decisions made, and items to follow up on at a future date. Follow up by sending (or having your executive assistant send) a copy of detailed and concise notes following each meeting to all participants. 

Fellow is the perfect place to take meeting notes that will keep your team productive and accountable. Our top-rated meeting notes software has all the features you need to host collaborative meetings that don’t interrupt your team’s workflow. 

12Assign action items 

If you’re meeting with your staff about a high-level project that will eventually translate to task-based activities, you can use a chunk of your meeting time to delegate action items. An action item is a next step needed to work towards goals that have been defined during the meeting. For example, if your major goal for the year is to position your company as the thought leader in your industry, you can use your meeting time to assign the task of developing a stellar campaign to your marketing team. 

13Respect your staff’s time 

As the CEO, you set the precedent for how the rest of the company acts. This means that you should always be prepared and on time. Arrive a few minutes before other meeting attendees so you can greet people as they walk in or join the “Zoom room.” You should also be succinct in your messaging to hold everyone’s attention throughout the meeting. 

Free meeting agenda templates for CEOs

Check out our meeting agenda templates that you can use to host successful meetings:

Parting advice 

The next time you have an opportunity to connect with your staff, use our 13 tips to help run a smooth meeting. While it may feel intimidating for your staff to chat face-to-face with you about their day-to-day work, maintaining an open line of communication will ensure you and everyone in the company stay on the same page.

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