Better Meetings

How to manage your recurring meetings for peak productivity

Illustration of a person juggling work items

Recurring meetings are pre-scheduled meetings that run on a regular cadence, such as weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or quarterly. These include all-hands meetings, 1:1s, leadership meetings, sprint retros, and more.

While recurring meetings are often scheduled with the best intentions and can help keep people accountable and drive projects forward, they can also be a waste of time. This usually happens when they’re poorly managed, no longer serve their purpose — or were unnecessary from the start.

To ensure your recurring meetings are productive, it’s important to know when to have them and how to manage them properly. Read on to learn more!

What are the different types of recurring meetings?

As you read through the below list of recurring meeting types, remember that some — like team meetings, one-on-ones, and all-hands, will be recurring over the long term — while others will be more project specific, lasting for a shorter period. 

For example, an HR manager may schedule a weekly one-on-one meeting for new hires that lasts four weeks. A CEO, in turn, may schedule a weekly all-hands for the entire year.

  1. One-on-ones: Regular meetings where two people check in, e.g., one-on-ones between a manager and employee.

  2. All-hands meeting: Company-wide or staff meetings where all employees are invited to attend, often on a weekly schedule. They work well for discussing company goals, sharing general company announcements and updates, and encouraging open communication. 

  3. Team meetings: Meetings between all employees in a specific department like sales, product, support, or accounting. 

  4. Project meetings: Project-specific recurring meetings that cover status updates, project issues and challenges, and solutions to fix the challenges.  

  5. Leadership meetings: Senior leadership and management meetings that cover aspects like business updates, challenges (e.g., product issues), business opportunities, learnings, and other crucial action items.

  6. Scrum meetings: Meetings between scrum teams (small group of individuals working on a project for a short time, e.g., software development team). Types of scrum meetings include sprint planning, daily scrum, sprint retrospective, review meetings, and backlog refinements.

Why should you have recurring meetings?

Recurring meetings are useful because they:

  • Create a sense of accountability. For some people, regular meetings act as an external deadline that encourages them to move their work forward and complete it in preparation for those meetings. Without the meeting, they may procrastinate.

  • Keep project teams on track. The regular nature of recurring meetings keeps everyone in project teams updated and ensures projects move forward steadily. For instance, teams can use meetings to identify and fix problems early.

  • Lock a meeting slot for future meetings. In some organizations, finding a meeting time that suits a certain group of people can be tricky. Scheduling regular meetings well in advance can help solve this issue. Just remember there will always be some people who can’t attend due to last-minute emergencies.

  • Help onboard new employees. New hires can easily be included in regular meetings like all-hands gatherings to meet other employees and get used to company dynamics. HR and team leaders can also schedule regular one-on-ones with new employees to check in on them.

How to schedule a recurring meeting in Google Calendar, Outlook, and Zoom 

Need help scheduling recurring meetings in your calendar tool of choice? Here’s how to set up these meetings in Google Calendar, Outlook, and Zoom. 

Scheduling a recurring meeting in Google

  1. Open Google Calendar on your computer (right side panel of your Gmail).

  2. Choose Create an Event at the bottom.

  3. Add an event title and click on the time next to the clock icon.

  4. Scroll down to Does not Repeat, select the down arrow, and choose from the recurring meetings options (daily, weekly, annually, etc.), or create your own.

    Google recurring calendar invite

  5. Update the rest of your meeting details: add guests, location, and meeting time. Plus, allow attendees to join the recurring meeting via Google Meet.

  6. Click Save.

Scheduling a recurring meeting in Outlook

  1. Create a meeting in one of three ways: - From your Outlook calendar, click New Meeting from the top menu bar - From your Inbox, select New Items, and Meeting - From an email, choose Reply with Meeting

  2. Add your attendees to the invitation window by entering their emails.

  3. Choose a subject, meeting start and end time, and location.

  4. Select Recurrence and adjust your recurring settings (time, cadence, and how long the recurring meeting will run for).

  5. Click OK and Send.

Scheduling a recurring meeting in Zoom

  1. Sign in to Zoom from your computer and select Schedule.

  2. Add an event topic, select your date and start time, and choose your time zone.

  3. Choose Recurring meeting

    Setting a recurring meeting in Zoom

  4. Select whether you want the video on or off and what calendar you want to save the meeting to.

  5. Click Save and follow the prompts to give Zoom access.

  6. Your calendar will open for you to set up the recurrence. For example, in Google Calendar, select the recurrence you want, update other meeting options, and click Save.

    Does not repeat calendar option

5 tips for planning better recurring meetings

As great as recurring meetings can be, they can be unproductive if poorly managed, or little thought was put into whether they were needed in the first place. They can also easily lose their focus and purpose over time, with employees starting to view them as nothing more than a calendar clogger.

That’s why it’s crucial to take the time to make them as productive as possible. Here are five tips for better recurring meetings.

1. Set a clear purpose and revisit it for every meeting

A meeting purpose is the overarching objective of a meeting. For example, the purpose of a quarterly leadership meeting may be to review important financials to assess business health.

Having a purpose is crucial for any meeting as it lets attendees know the focus of the meeting. It’s even more critical for recurring meetings because— let’s face it—it’s easy to get lazy with these meetings and lose focus and engagement over time.

This lack of engagement often occurs when the format stays the same, people stop taking charge, and the meeting purpose isn’t updated to reflect changes in a project. The end result? The meeting turns into a boring status update where half of the attendees are daydreaming.

So, make sure you set a clear purpose for your first meeting and that you revisit and update it for each subsequent meeting. For example, a software development team that starts a new project may schedule a weekly meeting to ensure the project is moving forward as intended. 

In the first meeting, the purpose is to kick off the project by setting a few tasks that need to be completed. In subsequent weeks, the purpose will likely change with new tasks, brainstorming, and problem-solving all likely forming part of the meeting purpose.

Pro tip: Set an “end date” to recurring meetings when you schedule them. This way you have a future date to evaluate if you still need the meeting or not (or if you need it at a different cadence). Don’t be afraid to scrap a recurring meeting entirely if it no longer serves any purpose. 

2. Set clear agendas and carry them over each week

Your meeting purpose sets the stage for your meeting agenda, which ensures everyone knows what to expect and time isn’t wasted getting attendees up to speed. The agenda covers what will be discussed in the meeting. It will also typically include:

  • How long each discussion point will take

  • Outcomes: what you want to achieve

  • Time to review all discussion points

  • Next steps and deliverables

Make sure you use the previous week’s agenda to build the current one. You’ll want to follow up on action items or other TBD tasks to keep everyone on the same page and projects on track. Carrying over the agenda takes the mental load off team members and makes it easy for them to give feedback.

Pro tip: Use a meeting OS like Vowel to quickly create agendas for more productive recurring meetings. Visit the Upcoming tab, update the meeting details, and share them with participants ahead of time. 

Upcoming meeting tab in Vowel

3. Use asynchronous communication to gather information before the meeting

There will likely be questions you can get answers to before the meeting to give people more clarity and context. Answering these questions will also ensure time isn’t wasted dealing with them during the meeting.

You can communicate asynchronously via email and Slack to ask these questions. These questions can include:

  • Asking specific attendees for some background context to a discussion point. For example: “Hey all, as you know, we’re talking about [insert topic] tomorrow. [Insert participant name], can you please remind us what we agreed in last week’s meeting about [topic]—and what progress we’ve made since then?”

  • Asking everyone to share status updates before the meeting, so you don’t waste time on them during the meeting.

4. Take notes as a team

Simply taking notes helps capture key decisions and next steps during a meeting. But taking notes with others has the added benefit of improving collaboration and overall meeting productivity. 

Just imagine a scenario where someone opens a shared document and makes a note. That note triggers an idea, so you write it down. Your note, in turn, triggers an idea or thought in someone else’s brain, and they too write it down. And so it goes.

So consider taking notes collaboratively using a shared document in Notion, Google, or using a tool like Vowel. Also, consider using a meeting transcription tool to capture the whole discussion, which you can easily reference later.

Vowel’s collaborative notes function lets you take notes directly on the meeting agenda. Everyone can also follow the meeting via a shared screen while a live transcription tool runs in the background. The transcription captures the whole meeting word-for-word and time-stamps meeting notes to the transcript for clarity, making it easy to reference later.

Shared meeting notes in Vowel

5. End meetings with clear action items—and share them

Ever left a meeting feeling confused about the next steps? Including action items at the end of the meeting as part of your notes helps avoid this confusion. It also ensures everyone knows what’s expected of them in the week leading up to the next meeting.

Action items typically include the next steps, a list of deliverables and timelines, and who’s responsible for the deliverables. 

Make sure you also share these action items with everyone after the meeting and that attendees can easily access them when needed. If you use a tool like Vowel, everyone in the meeting will get an instant recap with bookmarked moments, action items, and shared links — all alongside the meeting notes and transcript.

Post-meeting recap screen in Vowel

How to manage recurring meetings in Vowel

You can schedule a recurring Vowel meeting directly from your Vowel dashboard or from Google Calendar. For the latter, ​​install the Vowel Chrome extension — you'll then have the option to Add a Vowel Meeting when scheduling a recurring meeting in Google Calendar.

All attendees will now be able to join the recurring meeting directly from the calendar invite with the unique Vowel meeting link. 

During the recurring meeting, you can take notes with others directly on the agenda and scroll down to look at past agendas for context. Vowel also lets you record every meeting so you can revisit decisions and action items or share the session with those who couldn’t attend.

Recurring meeting support

Make your recurring meetings instantly more productive

Recurring meetings can help keep employees accountable and drive projects forward. But they can also become unproductive if incorrectly managed and easily lose their focus and purpose over time, turning them into nothing more than time wasters.

This doesn’t have to happen as long as you make them as productive as possible:

  • Set a clear purpose and refocus it as needed

  • Create clear agendas that you carry over each week

  • Use async communication to gather information before a meeting

  • Take notes together to improve collaboration (and save them in one centralized, accessible spot)

  • End all meetings with clear action items that you share with everyone

  • Sign up for Vowel to take notes together, view past agendas, and record and transcribe meetings for easy reference

Do the above, and you’ll not only have better recurring meetings — you'll have a better overall meeting culture. Win win!