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How to Better Plan for Recurring Meetings: 4 Steps

employees in meeting space, meeting room
by
Chuck Leddy
Published on

Meetings are an essential component of how effective collaboration and communication happen within today’s hybrid workplace. The efficient utilization of meeting spaces is also a key element of managing your office space, which is typically your second highest business expense (after only compensation). So when it comes to the effectiveness of recurrent meetings, workplace leaders have a lot at stake.

What's on the Agenda?

This post is aimed at helping workplace leaders and facility managers better manage their meetings and their meeting spaces. It will focus in particular on best practices for keeping recurring meetings productive. We’ll define the concept of recurring meetings, describe their value and how best to manage them, and finally explore how technology tools can enable you to optimize recurring meetings.

What is a Recurring Meeting?

Recurring meetings are pre-scheduled gatherings that run on a regular basis, such as weekly, monthly, or quarterly. These recurring meetings can have many formats and purposes, including:

  • Massive all hands meetings that update people on company news
  • Quarterly reviews of strategy by leadership
  • Weekly one on ones between an employee and her manager to ensure accountability
  • Weekly team meetings, status updates and daily scrums
  • Check-in meetings of project teams, and more
Recurring meetings can be an important touchpoint for teams.

What Are the Risks of Recurring Meetings?

Meetings are recurring because the organizers believe there will be a regular need for the attendees to touch base and discuss a given topic, but a meeting’s recurring cadence also poses some risks. 

While recurring meetings are typically intended to keep people accountable, on the same page, and drive projects forward, they can also turn into wasted time and a waste of your organization’s limited meeting space. This “wastage” usually happens when recurring meetings are poorly managed, are no longer aligned with their original purpose, or were never really needed in the first place.

How Do You Manage Recurring Meetings?

Here are four best practices for holding productive recurring meetings:

1. Clearly Define the Purpose for Recurring Meetings.

A recurring meeting’s purpose must be clearly communicated to attendees. For example, the purpose of an “every Tuesday at 11am” weekly team meeting would likely be to discuss what the team has accomplished since the last meeting (i.e., an update), how its work impacts the strategic goals and metrics of the entire department, what the team plans to do next, and what help/resources the various team members might need to succeed.

Having a clearly-defined purpose is especially critical for recurring meetings because it’s easy to just physically show up at the allotted meeting time and place, but lose mental focus and engagement around why you’re coming together.

This lack of focus often results in:

  • The format and agenda of recurrent meetings staying exactly the same (i.e., staleness), 
  • People stop taking initiative because the recurrence of the meeting exerts its own stultifying influence (the “zombie” meeting). 

The bottom line? Ensure that you set a clear purpose for your first recurring meeting and that you update the meeting’s purpose for future meetings to ensure focused discussion. Don’t be afraid to scrap a recurring meeting entirely if it no longer serves any purpose and attendees forget why they’re meeting.

Once you have the purpose of the meeting set it will drive the conversation more effectively.

2. Define Clear Agendas and Meeting Goals

Your meeting’s purpose is the foundation for your agenda, which helps ensure that meeting attendees will know exactly what to expect, so their time (and your organization’s office space) isn’t wasted. The agenda should include:

  • Items for discussion
  • How long (approximately) each item will take
  • What you expect to achieve (decisions, problem solving, brainstorming new ideas, etc.) by meeting's end
  • Time to review all items
  • Action items: next steps and expected deliverables

Use the previous week’s agenda to build the next one. You’ll obviously want to follow up on action items at the next recurring meeting to keep projects on track. Be sure to share the agenda with all meeting participants in advance so people can prepare.

3. Scheduling Recurring Meetings: Prioritize Times When People are Onsite

Recurrent meetings are great settings for fostering team culture. Onsite attendees can chit-chat before the meeting and potentially grab a cup of coffee afterwards. That’s culture and community-building in action. Since your recurring meetings will likely be hybrid, meaning some attendees will be onsite with some connecting remotely, try to schedule recurring meetings when the largest number of attendees are onsite. 

Use your meeting room booking software to find a space that can accommodate the attendees who can show up in person. Double check that your room of choice has video conferencing tools for any off-site participants. When possible, try to schedule these regular meetings on days when people are in the physical office space. If you don’t know what day might be the most popular to visit the office, ask your people or check out your office utilization data to see when the office is busiest.

It's useful to organize recurring meetings when most people are in office for more productive conversations.

4. End Recurring Meetings by Reviewing Action Items

"I’ve never left a meeting confused about who should be doing what and when,” said no meeting participant, ever. Confusion around next steps is the norm, so it’s essential for the organizer/host to review action items at the end of recurring meetings and then follow-up with attendees by sending meeting notes so people know what they need to do the next meeting. Attendees of future meetings will appreciate your follow-up.

How To Schedule Recurring Meetings

Start by selecting a day and time when the number of onsite attendees is greatest. Then give your recurring meeting a name that aligns with its cadence and purpose, such as “Tuesday marketing update meeting” or “monthly all-hands meeting.” You’ll then need to estimate the number of onsite attendees in order to book a meeting room that accommodates everyone. 

Pro-Tip: Display the number of people that can fit in a meeting room via room displays outside your conference rooms.

Next comes setting up the recurring meeting on your team’s calendar(s). Here’s how to do that:

Scheduling Recurring Meetings In Google Calendar

Step 1: Go to your Google Calendar dashboard and select "Create" in the top-left-hand corner.

Step 2: Enter basic meeting information like meeting objective, discussion title, date, and time > click the "Does Not Repeat" dropdown list > choose how often you'd like your meeting to occur.

Step 3: In the description bar, copy and paste a meeting agenda, so everyone knows what to expect.

Step 4: Hit the "Save" button once, and Google Calendar automatically sends participants a meeting invite.

Step 5: Be sure to paste a Google Hangouts link, which allows attendees to join via a video call. 

Scheduling Recurring Meetings In Zoom

Step 1: Open Zoom and select the "Schedule" icon.‍

Step 2: Enter information like the meeting title, date, time, and time zone > click the "Recurring Meeting" checkbox.

Step 3: You'll find customizable meeting ID and password options. Choose if you want to generate a meeting ID and password automatically or create a custom one. 

Step 4: Zoom is compatible with calendar systems like iCal and Google Calendar. Pick the one you prefer to schedule your meeting with and click "Schedule."

Step 5: From here, the process will differ slightly depending on the calendar you choose. Normally, the meeting event will automatically open in a browser window. Use this calendar to set up your meeting occurrence and start and end times.

Scheduling Recurring Meetings In Outlook

Step 1: Go to your Outlook dashboard and select “Meet Now.”

Step 2: This takes you to a meeting window. In the "From" section, type in your email address. 

Step 3: Provide a brief explanation of the video call in the title toolbar. For example, "Weekly Marketing Meeting."

Step 4: Next, enter participants' emails in the "Required" field. Under “Optional,” add the email addresses of people who're not required for the meeting but are welcome to join.

Step 5: Last, choose the meeting start and end date time > click on the "Make Recurring" icon.

When managed correctly, recurring meetings can be helpful, effective check-ins.

Support More Productive Meetings

Getting recurring meetings right matters because collaboration, community-building, and clear communication are key to driving your people’s productivity. Use the best practices and technology tools recommended above to keep your recurring meetings from turning into Zombie meetings that waste people’s valuable time and your valuable office space.

To learn more about implementing effective recurring meetings, start with Robin today.

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The Office Space Report 2023