We've all experienced different degrees of meeting ineffectiveness. Unclear action items, lack of meeting agenda, unprepared presenters—we can all agree that such meetings waste everyone's time and productivity.
The first step to having an effective meeting is to decide on a proper meeting cadence. What is meeting cadence? Here's an example for context.
Your team has a weekly cadence, which means you hold meetings once a week. You meet every Monday at 10 am for an hour. During the meeting, you discuss the progress on current projects, any challenges or obstacles you are facing, and any updates or announcements. This time is also used to delegate tasks and set weekly goals.
In this example, the team's meeting cadence is weekly, and your meeting pattern is consistent, taking place every Monday at the same time. Having a regular and predictable meeting frequency allows team members to plan their schedules and come prepared for discussions.
Meeting cadence definition
Meeting cadence refers to the frequency and pattern in which a team or organization holds meetings. Regular meetings, rather than spontaneous meetings, can help team members better plan their schedules and prioritize their tasks.
Examples of different meeting cadences include weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, and quarterly.
Striking the right balance in meeting frequency and duration is essential for effective and productive meetings. Holding too many meetings can lead to meeting fatigue and decrease overall productivity. On the other hand, fewer meetings may make team members feel disconnected and out of the loop on important updates and decisions.
Meeting cadence examples
Several types of meetings can take place at different frequencies, including monthly or weekly cadence, based on the meeting's purpose and the needs of the team or organization. Here are some examples of how meeting cadences vary:
- Daily meetings
- Weekly meetings
- Biweekly meetings
- Monthly meetings
- Quarterly meetings
- Annual meetings
These meetings usually involve all team or project members and happen more frequently. They often only take a few minutes and are scheduled each day simultaneously. Examples include:
- Stand-up meetings
- Daily Scrums
These meetings often involve debriefing on work-related successes, challenges, goals, and previous action items. Example include:
- Team meetings
- One-on-one meetings
- Leadership team meetings
These meetings may occur between cross-functional departments or individuals collaborating on a specific goal or project. Examples include:
- Cross-functional team status updates
- Project team meetings
- Catch-up meetings
These meetings have a monthly cadence, implying they are often scheduled on the same day at the beginning or end of each month and may involve a larger group of individuals. Examples include:
- All-hands meetings
- Manager meetings
- One-to-one meetings with HR and other departments
- Project updates with service providers or clients
These meetings happen once every few months and are used for goal setting and follow-up. Examples include:
- Business reviews
- Board meetings
- Customer follow-up meetings
- Objectives and key results (OKR) planning
- Quarterly target reviews
These meetings happen once a year and are usually used for evaluating progress over the past year and setting goals for the upcoming year. Examples include:
- Performance review meetings
- Team offsite meetings
Is your meeting cadence effective?
Watch out for these red flags that can make your meetings ineffective:
- The meeting agenda or goal is unclear.
- The meeting could have been an email.
- Status meetings are frequently running over or under time.
- Meeting participation and engagement are low.
- There is a lack of action items or next steps after the meeting is over.
- Participants feel the meeting is low priority and back out at the last minute.
It's also a good idea to gather feedback from team members who may not attend as many meetings as they may have different perspectives on the effectiveness of the meeting cadence. You can ask these questions in a team meeting, send out a survey, or have one-on-one conversations with team members.
By gathering this feedback, you can better understand whether your meeting cadence is working for your team and make any necessary adjustments.
How to decide the right cadence for meetings?
How many meetings are a lot of meetings? Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to that.
There are, however, a few ways to decide the right meeting rhythm for meetings. These are:
1. Nature of work
Some types of work may require frequent check-ins or updates, while others may be more suited to longer intervals between meetings or reviews. Ask yourself if the project requires regular communication and discussion.
Does the proposed meeting schedule disrupt the team's productivity? Answering these questions will determine if your meetings are necessary and, if so, how frequently should they be held.
2. Team size
Consider your team size when determining the appropriate meeting frequency.
Smaller teams can effectively collaborate on a project without frequent meetings, while larger groups may benefit from more frequent meetings to facilitate communication and coordination.
Without regular meetings, the interaction and communication within larger teams may be limited, which could negatively affect the project and team performance.
3. Team goals and objectives
One way to strike the right balance is to carefully consider the purpose and goals of each meeting. For instance, if your team is working on a project with a tight deadline, more frequent check-ins may be necessary to ensure that progress is on track.
Similarly, hold daily stand-up meetings to quickly chat and discuss progress on current projects while reserving longer, more in-depth meetings for less frequent but more critical topics.
By identifying the specific needs and goals of each meeting, you can determine the most appropriate frequency and duration.
4. Try various approaches
Try different approaches to determine the most effective meeting frequency for your team. By experimenting with different approaches, you may find the best meeting frequency for your team.
Feel free to adjust and try different cadences of meetings, such as daily stand-ups, weekly meetings, or bi-weekly meetings. Consider trying a different frequency if a particular approach does not work well for your team.
5. Team's preferences
It is crucial to involve your team in determining the appropriate meeting frequency. Some may prefer frequent check-ins, while others prefer longer intervals between meetings.
By regularly engaging with your team and soliciting their input, you can ensure that most team members are comfortable with the meeting schedule.
Ultimately, the right cadence will depend on your team or organization's specific needs, meeting agenda, and goals. Experimenting with different frequencies and seeing what works best for your team may be helpful.
Tips on having effective team meetings
1. Have an agenda
Therefore, have an agenda for recurring meetings to ensure they are productive and worthwhile. Don't schedule meetings unless you have specific issues to discuss—it can be detrimental to your team's performance.
If you're only holding a meeting to follow an established pattern, consider canceling it. If there is a new meeting agenda for a recurring meeting, make sure to share it with the team beforehand so that attendees can review it and prepare to contribute meaningfully to the discussion.
Also read: how to create an online meeting agenda
2. Track time
Track how time is used in meetings. Remember that even short meetings can add up to a significant amount of time over a year.
Invite only the necessary team members to meetings. A smaller group will likely be more productive and creative. Share the meeting notes with the rest of the team to keep them informed and free up their workday.
Also read: How to take notes in a meeting
Use Fireflies AI notetaker to record and transcribe your meetings to keep everyone on the same page. Fireflies' post-meeting transcripts are effective for collaborating asynchronously and eliminating the need for follow-up meetings to discuss missed points.
You can leave comments on the transcript for follow-up actions and share soundbites of the crucial sections of the calls.
You can also track the talk-to-listen ratio, sentiment analysis of a meeting, and other important conversational analytics metrics to see the effectiveness of your meetings and adjust your cadence of meeting accordingly.
3. Explore the difference between synchronous and asynchronous meetings
If you want to strike the right meeting cadence, it's worth exploring synchronous vs. asynchronous meetings.
Synchronous meetings occur in real time, in person, over the phone, or via video. Think of Zoom or Microsoft Teams meetings. They require all participants to be present at the same time.
Synchronous meetings create a sense of connection among people and motivate remote teams. However, they can also be perceived as a waste of time if they are not well-organized or efficient.
In contrast, asynchronous meetings do not require formal scheduling and allow participants to contribute at their own pace and when they can offer their full attention. This type of meeting can be more efficient and allow more substantive participation. Asynchronous meetings are often conducted using written communication methods, such as email or online messaging.
Final thoughts: Get into the right meeting rhythm
In conclusion, a steady meeting cadence can make all the difference for your team. Consistent, well-planned meetings can foster better communication, increase productivity, and facilitate problem-solving. On the other hand, a chaotic or irregular meeting schedule can leave team members feeling disorganized and be a flat-out waste of time and money.
It's up to you to find the sweet spot, figuring out how often to meet, how long each meeting should be, and the best mix of in-person and virtual meetings. By taking the time to establish a solid and effective meeting cadence, you can work together more seamlessly and achieve goals faster.
Don't underestimate the power of a good meeting schedule - it could be the key to your team's success.