From daily standups to town halls, meetings are now a big part of life — and it’s more important than ever that those meetings are run well.
So how do you do that, exactly?
The answer is focusing on meeting management, which is the practice of ensuring your meetings come with clear goals, participant roles, and action items for execution after the meeting ends.
This guide will walk you through every step in the process of good meeting management, which can ultimately make your meeting culture better in the long run.
What is meeting management?
Meeting management is the process of directing a meeting during all its stages — the pre-meeting preparation, the actual meeting, and post-meeting action items.
The process includes all actions taken by the host to run a productive meeting, like creating a meeting agenda, putting together an invite list, assigning meeting action items to attendees, and sending up a recap post-meeting.
Why is meeting management important?
Good meeting management leads to more productivity and respect for people’s valuable time.
A meeting’s worth is measured by its contribution to forward momentum, whether through collaboration, decision making, consensus, or dissent. Good meeting management is what ensures your meetings are achieving these goals.
If your meetings are unfocused without an agenda, you’re most likely not as productive as you should be. If you’re spinning your wheels during your meetings, keep reading to find out how to clean up your meeting management process — it’s not as hard as you think!
8 tips for effective meeting management
Effective meeting management is the sum of many parts: organization, full participation, and clarity. Here’s what those parts look like, in tangible steps you can start to incorporate immediately:
✅ Define the meeting’s objective and set a meeting agenda
Think about why you’re having a meeting in the first place. Before you book that meeting room — in-person or virtually — try to sum up the meeting objective in one sentence.
For example: “We’re meeting on Tuesday to discuss potential new hires for the VP of marketing role.”
Once you know why you’re meeting, write a clear and concise agenda. Your agenda should contain the topics you want to discuss and any relevant materials to help people prepare.
✅ Invite the right participants
If you’ve ever heard the phrase “too many cooks in the kitchen,” you already know one of the most common causes of bad meetings.
Before you send your meeting invites, think through whether or not every invitee really needs to be present. Each attendee should have something to contribute. If they don’t, you can leave them off the list.
✅ Take notes
Successful meetings are full of good insights and great ideas — and they end with clear and impactful next steps.
Here’s where meeting notes come in handy. Meeting notes document the discussion and serve as a record of what was decided. They’re also useful for looping in team members who had to skip a meeting.
So, take notes. Assign a note-taker, do it yourself, or use Vowel’s collaborative notes feature. With Vowel, any meeting participant can add to notes. Collaborative notes are a great way to capture more information without leaving it to one person, and recurring notes mean you can quickly pull up notes from a past meeting to remember what you talked about.
✅ Encourage equal participation
When one or two people take up more space than others, was your meeting really all that productive? Equal participation is important for a lot of reasons, but most of all to make sure introverts with great ideas are heard.
If you notice that one or a few people are monopolizing the conversation, it’s your job as the meeting facilitator to gently remind them to leave space for other people to contribute.
A great way to ensure equal participation is to use talk timers. Vowel has them built in, so you won't need an add-on or a plug-in.
When you enable the option, you’ll be able to see how long you or anyone else has been talking. The best thing about talk timers is they’re objective, and everyone can see via a percentage of time how much space they take up during a meeting.
✅ Record your meetings
Sometimes people need to skip meetings, either because they’re sick, have too much to do, etc.
Whatever the case, recording and sharing the meeting with people who couldn’t attend is a great practice for keeping everyone updated and engaged for your next meeting. And when you record your meetings, no one person needs to update anyone else — it’s just handled by either the full meeting recording or a condensed version with just the highlights.
With Vowel, meeting recording is part of the package. And with bookmarking, anyone at the meeting can mark highlights with just one click.
✅ Stay on schedule
An agenda means nothing if you don’t stick to it. One of the most common reasons why meetings go off the rails is that meeting participants don’t agree with the contents of the agenda in the first place, so they waste time talking about what the meeting should even be about.
Prevent this from happening by sending your agenda at least three days in advance, so that invitees can prepare and share concerns.
Meeting management software like Vowel can help you stay on schedule. Vowel has agenda timers you can set for each agenda item. That means everyone at the meeting will be aware of the time allotted to each item as the meeting is happening.
Meeting timers also prevent another common cause of unproductivity — meetings that are just too long.
✅ Keep your “meeting stuff” in one place
What do we mean by “meeting stuff”? Well, it’s your meeting agenda, notes and minutes, recordings, transcripts, action plans, and anything that helps you run your meeting.
If you’re a busy meeting organizer (and who isn’t 😅) and you have a lot of recurring meetings, your “meeting stuff” tends to pile up quickly. Before you know it, you’re searching through your Google Drive for the meeting notes from the last brainstorming session and the meeting recording is somewhere else in the cloud…
Instead of any of this, you can use Vowel as your meeting management system to streamline the whole process.
With Vowel, all meeting materials live together in one place. You can put related meetings in shared folders, recurring meetings are grouped automatically, and all things like recordings, clips, notes, and transcripts are attached to the meeting they came from.
✅ Follow up with a meeting summary and action items
Following up is a vital part of meeting management. Different people can leave a meeting with wildly different interpretations of what just happened.
After your virtual meeting is over, send a meeting summary to all attendees with the decisions you’ve made along with action items and their due dates.
Vowel can help you with automatic meeting recaps and assigned action items that are easily accessible. Every team member can check their outstanding items in the Vowel dashboard.
4 common mistakes to avoid when managing meetings
Even with the best care in the world, mistakes happen — but knowing the common mistakes can help you avoid them.
Whether you’re a meeting organizer or someone who goes to a lot of meetings, here are some common meeting management mistakes to watch for.
❌ Coming unprepared
This goes for everyone: come to meetings prepared. As a meeting organizer, that means sending out the agenda, being thoughtful about who you invite, and documenting the meeting properly with notes, minutes, next steps, and action items.
As an attendee, read the agenda and prepare as best you can. If you’re presenting, be mindful of how long you have for your presentation.
Meetings require focus, engagement, and the full participation of guests. That means participants shouldn’t be doing other work, answering messages on their phone, or having side conversations about other topics.
❌ Running over time
Even when people come to the meeting prepared, well-rested, and ready, they’ll eventually start losing focus. This generally tends to happen at the half-hour mark.
All the more reason to stick to your agenda and schedule. Vowel’s agenda timers can help you stay on track and limit digressions.
In general, try to keep your meetings shorter than an hour. If you uncover some important new subjects that need to be discussed, schedule another meeting for a later time.
❌ Leaving no time for questions
Most meeting organizers schedule the Q&A for the end of the meeting and only leave a few minutes for it. But what often happens is that there ends up being no time for questions, or participants are too mentally exhausted to ask them.
The Q&A is as important as the rest of the meeting, so make sure to always leave enough time. That way, everyone will have the chance to ask for important clarifications so they can do their assignments properly.
Manage your meetings effortlessly with Vowel
Meeting management means being prepared and organized so you can achieve peak meeting productivity. It also means choosing the right tools for the job.
Instead of relying on several disconnected apps and various Zoom or Google Meet plug-ins, use Vowel!
Vowel is a video conferencing tool that’s also awesome for meeting management. It comes with built-in agendas, live transcription, and instant recording, and the shared notes feature means that creating meeting notes, minutes, and recaps is a breeze. Plus, you can search across all your meeting content to find what you need!
Try it for yourself, or see how Vowel stacks up to other meeting management tools.