🚀 Breathe.


The 16 Do’s and Don’ts of Staff Meetings

Learn the best practices of staff meetings and the top 7 things you should avoid to have a successful staff meeting every time.

By Hannah Sheehan  •   August 9, 2021  •   12 min read

Did you know…

“The most common type of meetings are weekly staff team meetings, with 89% of respondents saying that they attend one every week,” according to the Future of Meetings Report.

Staff meetings are a crucial part of running a successful business, from building relationships to sharing what each department is working on. Follow along as Fellow, the meeting experts, show you how to make that 89% of respondents 100% happy, by sharing our 16 best do’s and don’ts of staff team meetings!

Let’s get started… 

What is the purpose of a staff meeting?

Staff meetings, which are typically held weekly or biweekly, are an important part of running a successful company. They create an opportunity for everyone in the company to get caught up to speed on what’s going on in other departments. 

Additionally, team meetings are typically the only time that members across different departments have an opportunity to communicate with one another. This is especially true in remote environments where the distance between co-workers is greater. 

According to Lara Hogan, author of Resilient Management, team meetings are essential because they push and pull information. This means pushing information such as news, ideas, messages, and changes, and pulling information such as feedback.

Staff meeting best practices (Do’s)

Learn the do’s and don’ts of staff meetings by checking out these 9 staff meeting do’s…  

1 Use a consistent format

Using a consistent format will create a routine with your meetings making them feel more comfortable. With a routine, your team members are more likely to come prepared with an expectation of how the meeting will run.

This means choosing a meeting agenda that works best for your team and then sticking to this agenda. However, this does not mean that you can never change it. Don’t be afraid to change up the meeting agenda from time to time to ensure that it works best for your team, just try to be consistent.

Not only is being consistent with your agendas important but being consistent with when your meetings are held is also important. Joe Fleming, Director of Sales here at Fellow, suggests running team meetings weekly to create rituals and hold everyone accountable. Holding them on the same day and at the same time, each week, will also create rituals and allow your team members to schedule other things ahead of time before the meeting invite is sent. 

Here is the format we use for Fellow’s weekly staff meetings:

Weekly Townhall Meeting Template

2 Involve everyone in preparing the agenda

It is important to involve everyone in preparing your meeting agenda to ensure that each person has an opportunity to add their own talking points. Asking your team members for their input on talking points will encourage them to participate and share their ideas.

Furthermore, involving your team members in the meeting agenda will ensure that the meeting agenda does not address only your concerns and ideas, but rather addresses everyone. Whether you have a staff meeting of 10, 50, or 100 people, being a good coworker and manager means including everyone’s ideas!

“If you want your team to be engaged in meetings, make sure the agenda includes items that reflect their needs.”

Roger Schwarz 

3 Always start on a positive note

Beginning your meetings on a positive note will set the tone for the rest of the meeting. This will foster psychological safety and encourage your staff to participate in the meeting.

Here are a few tips to start your meeting on a positive note:

  • Begin with wins
  • Begin with an icebreaker 
  • Begin by asking team members to share one thing that they did outside of work in the past week
  • Ask how everyone is doing

4 Encourage participation

Encouraging participation in meetings is important, especially in remote environments where team members can hide behind their computer screens. 

Here are a couple of ways to encourage participation in remote meetings:

  • Comment on others talking points

Using Fellow’s meeting management software, users can add comments to talking points on the meeting agenda – whether it be a question, update, or thought. This encourages participation because it allows members to have an asynchronous discussion after the meeting ends.

  • React to others talking points

Fellow also allows users to use Emojis to react to talking points. This is a great feature because it allows users to participate and react to others’ points by simply hitting their desired Emoji. For example, when a team member shares good news, you can celebrate with them by using 🎉 !

5 Keep track of decisions

Expecting your team members to remember every decision made during a meeting is an unrealistic expectation. Therefore, it is important to keep track of your decisions so that you can look back on them after the meeting ends. This is why note-takers are assigned for meetings; instead of each person trying to take individual notes, one person takes notes for the whole team and then shares them afterwards.

According to Amy Gallo, recording decisions will also help everyone stay on the same page and prompt accountability. This way, nobody can say that they didn’t know that they were responsible for x and y. 

6 Assign clear action items

Additionally, assigning clear action items will also promote accountability. Clearing assigning each person to a talking point will ensure that each person knows what is expected of them. 

Pro tip

Use a meeting management tool like Fellow to assign action items to specific people. The assignee will then be notified via email and Fellow that they have been assigned an action item. 

Meeting Action Items App

7 Rotate the roles of facilitator and note-taker 

Being stuck with the same role in each meeting can make meetings feel repetitive for those people, therefore, rotating the role of facilitator and note-taker for your staff meetings is important. 

Furthermore, rotating the role of facilitator and note-taker will ensure that everyone has an opportunity to participate – whether they want to or not!

“To keep people engaged, have a different team member keep the minutes of the meeting; track action items, owners and deadlines; and even come up with a fun question to ask everyone at the conclusion of the meeting.”

Keith Ferrazzi

8 Use the parking lot technique for new talking points

Oftentimes, a new talking point will arise during a meeting that is not on the meeting agenda. Rather than dismissing the point and ignoring your colleague or discussing the talking point and going over time, try using the parking lot technique.

The parking lot technique is an idea that when new talking points arise during the meeting that are not already on the meeting agenda and not relevant to the main purpose of the meeting, the talking point is put in the “parking lot”; This means that they are jotted down by the note-taker and set aside for another time. This time may be at the end of the meeting (if you have the time) or at another meeting. You can even schedule a meeting just for this talking point if need be. 

The overall purpose of this technique is to follow the meeting agenda and ensure that the conversation does not go off-topic, while also ensuring that you are not dismissing other talking points. 

9 Share the notes with stakeholders who couldn’t attend

Only inviting those who need to attend the meeting is important to avoid having an overcrowded meeting. An overcrowded meeting will make it difficult for everyone to participate and likely won’t relate to everyone there. Therefore, only inviting people who are necessary for the meeting is key. 

This sometimes means not inviting all of the stakeholders in the company. However, just because they are not at the meeting does not mean that they do not get to know what was discussed. Thus, sharing the meeting notes with the stakeholders after the meeting ends will ensure that they are caught up to speed on what was discussed and decided. 

Additionally, if you choose to invite your stakeholders, make sure that you share the meeting notes with those who were unable to attend. This will ensure that they are included in the decisions made, even though they were not present in the meeting. 

Things to avoid (Don’ts)

Now that we have learned the do’s of staff meetings, it’s time to learn the don’ts!

1 Don’t start late

Remember, your team members are taking time out of their busy day to attend the meeting. Therefore, make sure that you start the meeting on time! 

This simple meeting etiquette is sometimes forgotten in remote meetings because you do not need to be physically present. However, this should not be the case as no matter how your meetings are being held – remote or in-person – beginning on time is always important. 

“It doesn’t matter if the senior-most person isn’t present. If that person is critical to the meeting taking place and you know your meeting hinges on their presence, then ask ahead of time if you can start without them. Worst-case scenario, you fill them in later.”

Joshua Miller, Personal and Executive Master Certified Coach

2 Don’t focus solely on status updates 

Using all of your time during your meeting for status updates is not recommended. Although status updates are good, they don’t facilitate conversation. They are typically one or two people updating the rest of the team on goals and targets. 

Instead, ensure that your staff meetings incorporate time for brainstorming and time to discuss ideas. This will prompt collaboration and participation with team members. This will also ensure that your meetings are productive and have an effective outcome. 

To achieve this, use a management software application, such as Fellow, to create a meeting agenda. This will make sure that time is devoted to multiple things.  

3 Don’t go off on a tangent 

Going off on a tangent during a meeting can cause the meeting to get off-topic and take up time. Therefore, it is important to make sure everyone is sticking to the meeting agenda. 

According to Harvard Business Review, sometimes people will go off on a tangent when they are unhappy with a decision being made. However, instead of accusing the person of showing bad meeting etiquette, Amy Gallo says that “Addressing the underlying issue head-on can help appease the dissenter and get your meeting back on topic.”

4 Don’t be the only one speaking

Part of being a good co-worker is encouraging others to speak up and participate. Therefore, as a colleague and manager, it is important to ensure that you are not the only one speaking. If you are noticing that you are speaking more than your co-workers, consider stepping back for a moment and allow somebody else to share their thoughts. And, if you are a manager, consider calling on individuals who are quieter and asking them for their opinion. 

However, it is also important to make sure that you aren’t holding back your ideas because you are worried about speaking too much. At the end of the day, yes, it’s important to be a good co-worker, but it is also important to be a good employee and share your ideas and thoughts. Don’t be afraid to be the loudest voice in the meeting!

5 Don’t interrupt others

One thing we all learned from a young age is to not interrupt each other! During in-person meetings, this is a pretty easy rule to follow to be a good co-worker. However, with remote meetings, this can be an issue. 

While on video conferencing applications, it is hard to tell who is about to speak, and oftentimes, two people end up speaking at the same time. To avoid this awkward confusion, try getting your team members to take advantage of the video conferencing applications tools. 

For example, with Zoom, users can raise a virtual hand which will appear in the top corner of their screen. Then, the person running the meeting can call on each person individually so that nobody is talking over each other. 

Furthermore, by putting your talking points on the meeting agenda, people will know that you have something to say. Thus, the person running the meeting can call on you when they get to your talking point. 

“If you know you’d like to say a few words at an upcoming meeting, let the facilitator know in advance. That way, they can easily acknowledge you so that you don’t have to interrupt someone while speaking.”

Allison Shapira

6 Don’t make it a “one-on-one” conversation 

There are two types of people in a meeting, those who barely speak up and those who speak up at every chance they get. Both these types of people are important and great. However, when the conversation becomes more of a one-on-one conversation, it is important to step back and let other people speak.

Allison Shapira recommends stepping back from speaking if you have spoken for most of the meeting. This is because you may take time away from other team members who also have something valuable to say, and as a good co-worker you want everyone to get to contribute.

Furthermore, as a manager, sometimes you can get caught up in a conversation with somebody during a staff meeting. Instead of getting in-depth about the topic, suggest scheduling a one-on-one meeting with them later that day or week to further discuss the topic in a more private setting. 

7 Don’t ignore remote employees

While some of us begin to return to in-person work environments, others will not. Thus, hybrid meetings will begin to take place more often. With hybrid meetings, half of your meeting attendees are in-person while the other half are remote. This is a great way to ensure that everyone can attend the meeting in whichever way is comfortable for them. 

However, hybrid meetings can cause a lack of attention to those who are joined remotely as it is much easier to talk to the people in the same room as you. Therefore, it is important to not ignore remote attendees in hybrid meetings.

Here are some tips to include remote attendees during hybrid meetings:

  • Ask team members to have their cameras on
  • Don’t hold side conversations with people in the same room as you
  • Focus your attention on both remote and in-person team members 
  • Ensure that any resources used (ex, whiteboards) are visible to remote team members
  • Be attentive to time zones for those joining remotely

“Remember to start the meeting on time, avoid side conversations, and include remote employees in the discussion.”  

– Alexandra, Engineering Manager at Fellow

Bonus: staff meeting agenda templates

First team meeting agenda

Remote team meeting agenda

Parting advice

Holding a staff meeting the right way can be the difference between productivity and inefficacy. Following these 9 do’s and 7 don’ts of staff meetings, you can rest assured that your next team meeting will be above and beyond the average meeting. 

Put your trust in the meeting experts at Fellow and happy meeting time!

  • shopfiy
  • uber
  • stanford university
  • survey monkey
  • arkose labs
  • getaround
  • motorola
  • university of michigan
  • webflow
  • gong
  • time doctor
  • top hat
  • global fashion group
  • 2U
  • lemonade
  • solace
  • motive
  • fanatics
  • gamesight
  • Vidyard Logo