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How To Deal With Meetings As Team Lead

This guide is aimed at team leaders and managers who want to optimize the meeting process in their team and make it more efficient. We provide tips and tricks from our experience.

Enduring numerous meetings becomes a necessary evil when collaborating as a team or organization. They seem to proliferate like the Hydra from Greek mythology: once one meeting concludes, two more are already scheduled as follow-ups. Consequently, our calendars are packed, and we all suffer from what we call “meeting fever.”

It might be tempting to dismiss meetings entirely and offer a solution promising to “spend less time in meetings,” “have more productive meetings,” or “just cancel them all with our asynchronous meeting solution.” Well, it’s not that easy. If we were to ask users whether they want to have “fewer, more efficient meetings,” everybody would say “yes, of course!” But meetings are our collective guilty pleasure—it’s the time when we bond at work, exchange back-channel information, and keep each other updated. A little like the time between classes in school: you just don’t want to miss it.

Hence, we must accept that having “too many meetings” is just part of our work life, but that doesn’t mean there’s no way to improve the status quo. We’ve realized that most of our meeting fatigue can be attributed to poor organization and administrative hassles. We all know that every meeting should have an agenda, somebody should take notes, and afterward, we should distribute our meeting protocol to everyone involved to increase accountability. But it’s just too much pain to do this constantly for every meeting.

As a team leader, it’s your responsibility to define such rules for your team’s collaboration. This includes guidelines for regular weekly and daily team meetings, as well as for meetings you cannot attend.

Strategies for Team Leaders and Managers to Make Meetings More Efficient

This section explores various approaches to make meetings more effective overall. The focus is not necessarily on eliminating meetings or shortening existing ones but on improving team collaboration.

Here’s a summary:

  • Approach 1: Eliminate Meetings Entirely
  • Approach 2: Define Clear Meeting Procedures
  • Approach 3: Fewer Meeting Participants
  • Approach 4: Better Meeting Preparation and Follow-Up
  • Approach 5: Implement a Meeting Management Solution

Approach 1: Eliminate Meetings Entirely

Meetings for mere information transfer are a significant time drain and often unnecessary, as there are much better alternatives. Establish and enforce clear guidelines and processes for information sharing within your team.

Approach 2: Define Clear Meeting Procedures

For meetings that go beyond information sharing and involve discussing complex problems, it’s beneficial to establish clear procedures. Defining different types of meetings and their recurring processes can be helpful.

Example 1: The Weekly Sync Meeting

Most teams have a more extensive team meeting at least once a week, typically lasting about an hour. The goal is to update each other on the current project status, with each member providing a brief update on their tasks and discussing obstacles together.

Example 2: The Daily Sync Meeting

In some projects or teams, it makes sense to exchange information on a daily basis, either continuously or at certain times. For these cases, a daily sync meeting can be used, which should last a maximum of 15–20 minutes. You can answer the following questions as a team:

  • What has been achieved since the last meeting?
  • What will be done before the next meeting?
  • What obstacles are there?

Approach 3: Fewer Meeting Participants

The cost of meetings exponentially increases with the number of participants. Often, discussions between two individuals about a specific issue do not contribute to the whole group.

As a team lead, aim to invite as few people as necessary to meetings. Information transfer to third parties can be managed through tools or processes. For instance, our app ZipDo allows you to invite all team members to a specific meeting channel, where meeting notes can be shared and accessed by everyone, keeping them “in the loop” without wasting time on irrelevant meetings.

Approach 4: Better Meeting Preparation and Follow-Up

If you cannot or do not want to cancel meetings, optimize the processes for preparing and following up on them. Using a written meeting agenda where items are listed can significantly help. Our app ZipDo allows for collaborative agenda editing, meaning each team member can independently add notes and topics.

The meeting moderator ensures that notes are taken during the meeting, which is essential for effectively implementing approach 3 – written documentation is necessary.

Depending on how strongly you want to implement this approach, you could also use ZipDo or other tools for automations that remind all participants to add their agenda items in time.

Approach 5: Implement a Meeting Management Solution

We understand that asking users to add yet another tool to their team collaboration tech stack is a significant undertaking. In fact, this request is so substantial that we would not have even started ZipDo if we were not absolutely convinced that a “meeting management tool” should be a part of every organization.

So, what is a meeting management tool, and why should you consider managing your meetings?

Let’s ask ChatGPT:

“A meeting management tool is a software application designed to streamline and enhance various aspects of the meeting process within a business or team. These tools typically offer features such as scheduling, agenda creation, document sharing, communication capabilities, minute and note-taking functionality, task assignment, integration with calendars, and analytics/reporting. By centralizing these aspects, meeting management tools aim to improve efficiency, collaboration, and organization throughout the entire meeting lifecycle, from scheduling to follow-up, contributing to more productive and effective team communication.”

Okay, that’s great, but to be honest, we aren’t more enlightened than before. Keeping it simple, ZipDo is the place where you store your meeting notes. Ouch! That might be too simple of an explanation because you can do that in Google Drive or Notion. So let us paint a bigger picture for you. 99.9% of organizations and teams have two primary ways of communicating with each other: Chat and meetings. Our chats are neatly organized in Slack or Microsoft Teams, so we don’t have to find information in our email inboxes or other messaging channels. But where is the Slack equivalent for our meetings? Where are they organized, so we can prepare agendas, take notes, or retrieve information from past meetings? Nowhere. Meetings are messy and currently stuck in the email age, pre-Slack.

Currently, meetings follow a random process, and everybody organizes them on their own or arguably not at all (hence bad meetings). We use different tools like Google Docs, Confluence, or Notion to create agendas or take meeting notes and store them afterward. The problem you run into pretty quickly is that you have to create a new document for every meeting, or you have to use the same document for multiple meetings, but then this document quickly becomes chaotic and confusing. Even in the case of Google attaching a Doc to every meeting in your calendar, you suffer from admin work because what do you do with the meeting note afterward? Well, you would have to maintain a database of meeting notes in Google Drive. In Notion, you might have the database right away, but there the calendar connection is missing, so you have to manually create notes.

Maybe you might be a tech aficionado who loves to solve these problems via Zapier and other automation tools, but can you say the same for your whole company? It would be a nightmare to scale your method. The equivalent would be that it is great that you have your email inbox organized into folders pre-Slack, but this does not benefit your team or company.

With AI advances, the latest tech invention is to take automated meeting notes with so-called “AI Assistants” and keep the recordings + notes in one place. While we think automated meeting note summaries are great and will also be part of ZipDo at one point, these meeting note tools miss the mark of establishing meetings as a structured communication channel. Meetings start BEFORE the meeting with the preparation of a collaborative agenda. So while adding AI note-takers to your meetings solves for taking notes and listing these notes in an app, it still does not give your meetings a home because those apps are more focused on the recording of the meeting and not on keeping all your meetings organized in one place.

Jannik Lindner

I'm Jannik and I write on MeetingFever about the experiences from my career as a founder and team lead.

If you have any questions, please contact me via LinkedIn.

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