Better Meetings

13 team meeting ideas to supercharge productivity

Illustration of two people collaborating in a meeting

When you think of your weekly team meeting, what descriptors come to mind? Energizing and collaborative? Exhausting and useless? Something in between? 

Team meetings are often thought of as a method for giving updates and discussing how to break complex goals into simple tasks. And yes, there’s something to that. 

But if done right, coming together every week — even if it’s via your webcam — is about much more than that. It’s about fostering team bonding, trust, and creativity. It’s a time when people can ask questions, share experiences and ideas, and help each other do their jobs better.

If your gatherings are starting to feel stale, check out these team meeting ideas to get re-focused and re-energized.

First things first: Find the meeting purpose

The most important ingredient in any meeting is purpose: without it, you can’t clearly say what needs to get done because you don’t have a “why.” And then you get unproductive meetings.

Before you start implementing new team meeting ideas, go deep on the purpose first. 

Because let’s be real: it’s easy to get lazy with recurring meetings. When the format stays relatively the same week after week and people stop taking charge, the meeting can get flat fast. Or it can fall into status update territory where the time together doesn’t feel purpose-driven or productive.

When we don’t examine the deeper assumptions behind why we gather, we end up skipping too quickly to replicating old, staid formats of gathering. And we forgo the possibility of creating something memorable, even transformative. - Priya Parker, The Art of Gathering

If you’re taking the time to meet with your team every week (or every other week), you want to make sure that time matters. You also want every meeting to have a purpose and outcomes based on where you are as a team — this will set the stage for your agenda. 

Some ideas of a weekly team meeting purpose: 

  • Kick off a new project

  • Do a project retro 

  • Brainstorm ideas 

  • Share learnings

  • Work through roadblocks/problem-solving

  • Make decisions

  • Set goals for your next period of work 

  • Check in on your goals and decide if you need to make changes

After you pick a meeting purpose, you’ll be much clearer on your outcomes; for example: 

  • Introduce [XX] project and assign project tasks to team members based on new project plan 

  • Review [XX] project and make a list of 5 learnings

  • Brainstorm 10 ideas for [XX]

  • Ask [team member] to share learnings on [XX] (or how something works)

  • Come up with solutions to [XX] 

  • Review [XX] metrics and see how we’re tracking so far this quarter

  • Decide [XX] and assign the next steps 

  • Set Q2 goals (or review Q2 goal ideas and confirm them) 

  • Check in on Q1 goals and make 3 recommendations on what to prioritize

13 team meeting ideas

Here are 13 team meeting ideas you can try to ensure super productive and engaging gatherings.

> Before the meeting

Once you know the meeting purpose and outcomes, prep becomes A LOT easier. 

1. Create and share thoughtful meeting agendas

Every productive meeting starts with a clear agenda. You need somebody to own this (the meeting facilitator!), because a lot of times people a) won’t have time to properly contribute or b) need a prompt — by saying “what should we talk about?”, you’re not setting any context or jumping-off points. 

By setting a “V1” agenda based on the previous meeting and where the team is at in their project or work cycle, you take the mental load off and make it easy for people to give feedback.

With that in mind, send the V1 agenda two days before the meeting and give a deadline for feedback. Here’s a sample 45-minute Monday team meeting template (always start by writing your goal at the top): 

  • Goal: evaluate last week’s launch and facilitate transition to new CMS

  • Check in with team & follow-ups from previous week (5 minutes)

  • Quick metrics and/or project status review (5 minutes) 

  • Topic A (e.g. evaluate launch - 15 minutes)

  • Topic B (e.g. new CMS troubleshooting - 15 minutes) 

  • Recap and action items (5 minutes)

> See more team meeting agendas Once you have your topics finalized, decide how long to spend on each agenda item and put approximate timing next to each section. Then you’re ready to share the agenda one more time so everyone knows what to expect when they meet.

In Vowel, you can create agendas from the spot you view your upcoming meetings and look at notes from the previous week to remind yourself what was discussed. Use a template or just start typing — then share with your teammates in one click (no separate docs!). 

Vowel meeting agenda

2. Get info that could be shared async out of the way

After your agenda is set, figure out if there are questions that can be answered before the meeting so people have more clarity going into the conversation (because clarity is the key to productive action!).

This could be as simple as dropping a few questions into a Slack channel, e.g. “Hey, we’re talking about [XX] campaign at tomorrow’s meeting. Jen, can you remind us what the results were in the last campaign and why we’re doing it differently this year?” 

Or add a “questions” section directly to the agenda and ask teammates to come with context (just make sure to give them enough time to prepare).

And if you’re used to spending a lot of meeting time on status updates, ask everyone to share them in Slack or another channel beforehand. That way, you can quickly review or ask questions about them during the meeting without it being a waste of time.

3. Embrace “pre-meeting” work where necessary

Think of the agenda as the basis for a (loose) meeting script. Under each item, what do you specifically want to touch on and how can you and your entire team prepare? 

Here are a few simple prep ideas for more effective meetings: 

  • If you’re looking to collect feedback on something, ask people to review the work beforehand. “I’ve drafted the first version of this email campaign. Would everyone mind reading it beforehand and coming to the meeting with feedback?”

  • If you’re reviewing goals/progress, have your metrics dashboards or project management system up to date and ready to share. Think ahead to questions people might have about gaps or anomalies (why did traffic drop on this day?) - or assign whoever is in charge of this data to have it ready. 

  • If you’re having a brainstorming session, ask people to think through a couple of ideas ahead of time so they’re not walking into the meeting cold.

  • If you’re looking to make a complex decision, compile an email or doc with links to relevant articles or background info as a meeting pre-read.  

Remember: sometimes people need a little bit of “thinking time” to prepare insights rather than being put on the spot. A great agenda combined with relevant pre-meeting details or prep work can help with that.

> During the meeting

This is where the magic happens!

4. Open up with a question

Being on video calls all week long can be draining. But for weekly team meetings, it’s important to have face-to-face time with your team. 

Encourage folks to turn their cameras on by opening up with some fun — ask them to share what their pets are doing or what they’re snacking on, or if they’ve changed anything around in their workspace (check out more icebreaker question ideas). One team we’ve talked to opens every weekly meeting with a fun question for the team like “What song did you listen to the most this week?”

Starting off light helps encourage remote teams to want to be on video and remind them that it’s a collaborative, friendly space.

5. Follow the agenda on a shared screen  

You went through the work of making an agenda and sharing it around — now, make sure it’s front and center during the meeting so everyone can follow along! 

You can do this by making sure everyone has the same shared doc open, screen-sharing your agenda, or using Vowel’s awesome collaborative notes function (where the agenda becomes your shared meeting notes!). Keeping the agenda visible makes it easy to stay focused and check off items as you go.

It’s also a good idea to assign a timekeeper for each agenda item, whether it’s you or rotating teammates. That way, you don’t have to go through the awkwardness of interrupting someone when they’ve gone over (there's an agenda timer in Vowel for this reason!).  

That said, if you’re having a great discussion and you’re over the allotted time, make the call as a team whether you want to keep going or continue it later (“let’s dive back into this on Slack or schedule another time to discuss it”).

6. Take notes together (with transcription to assist with the details)

Meeting notes (or meeting minutes if you're talking about more formal meetings) are the easiest way to capture decision-making, ideas, and next steps during a meeting. 

Instead of starting a new shared notes doc or having each teammate take their own notes, use the agenda to take notes together. Assign a notetaker, or take time at the end of each agenda topic to collectively sum up decisions and takeaways.

And while notes are great (and encouraged!), it’s always a good idea to use a meeting transcription tool to capture the whole discussion and make it easy to reference and search later. 

Vowel’s collaborative notes let you and your team type on a shared notepad in real-time while live transcription is running in the background. Notes are time-stamped to the meeting transcript for context and clarity.  

Shared meeting notes in Vowel

7. Make sure everyone feels comfortable contributing 

Team meetings are all about collaboration and shared knowledge, even if they’re not face-to-face — so there shouldn’t be only one or two people doing the majority of the talking. 

While it’s natural to have some people talk more than others in certain meetings (depending on presentations), there should always be opportunities to open the floor for questions or feedback so others can contribute. 

Aim to build a safe environment where people can give constructive criticism, praise, and honest feedback without judgment.

To help with this, Vowel tracks talk time percentages during your meeting to nudge your team toward more inclusive meetings.

8. Leave time for action items 

The end of the meeting is just as important as the meeting itself. What’s the follow-up? Who’s responsible for sending out the meeting notes? What comes next? 

That’s why you should always build 5-10 minutes into your agenda to review what was discussed. 

Go back over the notes to clarify decisions and action items, then write down exactly who’s responsible for what and by what date (in Vowel, assign action items by typing /action in the shared notes and tagging a teammate). Agree to the next steps as a team so it feels like your meeting purpose is being fully carried out.  

> After the meeting

Remember: Great virtual meetings don’t end the moment everyone hangs up.

9. Send a recap

Being a good meeting facilitator means sending people away with something — and, in the case of productive team meetings, that’s a concise recap of decisions, action items (and who they’re assigned to), and shared links. 

Whether it’s you or the notetaker, make sure someone is sending out this meeting summary or putting it somewhere that’s easy to find (e.g. "Hey team, just dropped the shared notes in the Team Meetings folder — go there to find your action items").

10. Share the meeting with anyone who couldn’t attend 

When someone has to miss a meeting, they shouldn’t feel like they’re going to be behind or have knowledge gaps. 

If you know a team member won’t be attending the meeting, you can still ask for their input beforehand and add their notes/questions to the agenda. 

After the meeting, make sure to share the notes and action items. If you use a tool like Vowel, they’ll have an instant recording of the meeting in their account so they can easily catch up at 2x or skip to parts that are most relevant to them.

11. Audit your weekly team meeting 

Even if you think you’re not in a “bad meetings” rut, there’s always room for improvement. 

Have your team submit anonymous feedback (try a “stop-start-continue” exercise) or try chatting with them in one-on-one meetings to get their honest feedback. 

Maybe they feel the meetings are getting stale or redundant. Maybe they’re not accomplishing what you set out to do. Maybe they feel like meetings don’t need to be weekly! 

Whatever the feedback is, you’re never going to know unless you take the time to reflect and make upgrades based on team needs.

> A couple more good meeting ideas

Sometimes, there are out-of-the-box things you can do to make your team meetings more productive (and enjoyable).

12. Switch it up

Like any recurring meeting, your team meeting might start to feel stale at times. If that’s the case, try something new:

  • Bring in a guest speaker or a member from another team to present a new initiative or explain how something works

  • Watch a video together: a talk from a conference or a clip from a TV show that reminds you of a challenge your team is going through

  • Have someone on your team who doesn’t usually present talk about a recent learning (if they’re comfortable with it). 

By injecting a little variety once or twice a quarter, you’ll uncover new insights and learn more about the people on your team.

13. Cancel (or shorten) if it’s not necessary

One study showed that the average knowledge worker spends 12 hours per week attending and preparing for meetings. That's a hefty amount of time!

If there comes a week when everyone is heads-down on an important project or doesn’t have a lot of updates, you should feel okay about canceling your meeting, running it async on Slack, or cutting it in half. When people are busy, they’re usually super happy to get time back in their day. 

Run awesomely productive team meetings 

Making your team meetings more productive takes work and intention — and maybe even a change to your company’s meeting culture

But once your entire team is in the groove of...

  • Contributing to agendas

  • Doing pre-meeting work

  • Setting times for topics

  • Taking collaborative notes

  • Opening up the floor for discussion

  • Driving accountability with action items

...you’ll likely notice a big difference in how the meeting feels.  

Remember, what you don’t want is this:

What you do want? To have meeting participants leave with more purpose, clarity, and camaraderie than when the meeting started.

If you're looking to spend less time spinning your wheels and more time being productive, try your next meeting on Vowel! It’s got live transcription, collaborative agendas + notes, meeting recaps, and more.