How To Meet – the ruleset to drive our meetings more efficiently

How To Meet – the ruleset to drive our meetings more efficiently

  • Meeting Team

A proper meeting culture has not only become a challenge since the global pandemic. But during 2020, when COVID-19 hit the globe, it became even more obvious that meeting digitally across distances needs some rules to avoid pitfalls. It showed that collaborating virtually is neither obvious, nor should it be taken for granted.

“Never design a meeting without an agenda.”

This rule is one of the most important and widespread rules when it comes to how to design a meeting. Meeting virtually is not only about the how and the who, but first and foremost about the why. Before thinking about setting up a meeting, you should ask yourself if you need a meeting. Sounds trivial and not quite surprising, right? But being confronted with a massive number of digital meetings within the last 1,5 years has shown us, that communicating virtually demands more effort as spontaneous and synchronous interaction need to be replaced.

So, what else does it take to successfully run a virtual meeting?

In summer 2020 we stumbled upon a game called “how to sabbotage a meeting” by the agency darkhorse. True, this is reverse psychology, and we of course do want to run meetings as smooth and efficient as possible. But you can always learn a lot if you look at what should not be done. In addition to the game, darkhorse provided a ruleset of nine rules: how to run proper meetings.

Being inspired by darkhorse’s initiative, we decided to establish a written and official ruleset at designaffairs on how to run (digital) meetings efficiently and with fun. No sooner said than done: We, 5 highly motivated, diverse people, gathered to start the undercover project “HOW TO MEET”.

We met (digitally), collected all our creativity alongside our experiences on how to run a meeting (or not) and did some additional research. The result? A compact guideline structured along eight key steps and three key phases (1) before, (2) during and (3) after a meeting. After some iterations we eventually finalized and published our guideline in spring 2021. Here is an overview of the rules complemented with a detailed checklist per each rule.

We are convinced that our guideline will not only help us at designaffairs to constantly adjust and remind ourselves of how to meet – but think it might also help you, too. So here it is: The HOW TO MEET guideline on how to design and run meetings efficiently and with more fun. Enjoy!


1. #challenge your meeting

Before you set up a meeting, you definitely should know why you are planning to meet. It seems to be very obvious but think about this first:

  • Are you sure a meeting is necessary? You cannot simply clarify this through a quick chat or email?
  • What do you want to achieve / what is the goal of the meeting?


2. #preparation is key

OK – meeting is necessary and it has a certain goal. Before you send a meeting invitation be clear about…

  • … an agenda.
  • … a good time schedule / duration of the meeting.
  • … which people you need / can contribute in this meeting to reach the goal.
  • … where and how you want to document the meeting.


3. #hook up the crew

OK – preparation is done & participants are defined. Now you need to send a meeting invite.

  • Add the agenda and the reason you are meeting to the invite.
  • If participants need to prepare something, let them know.

Before sending the invitation check the participants’ calendars for free time slots – respect lunch breaks and do not overbook them. Also, keep your own calendar up-to-date.

Advice: schedule 25 / 55 mins meeting to have time for bio breaks in between meetings.


4. #start it right

So it’s time to start the meeting. You are the host which means you are the moderator and guide.

  • Welcome everyone and do a quick check-in. (“How are you? What is your mood?”)
  • Present the agenda and the goal.
  • Be prepared to take notes or ask one of the participants to do so.

For digital meeting: Ask if turning on the cameras is OK for everyone. For you as a moderator it makes it more easy to facilitate the meeting since you see people’s reactions.


5. #be a smart host

The meeting started off, people start to contribute. You are the host and the leader of this meeting:

  • Make sure the meeting focuses on the goal and if necessary bring it back on track.
  • All participants are valuable, so involve them. Interrupt long monologues.
  • Address questions directly to people and avoid silence.
  • Have an eye on the time.

For digital: Watch the chat if there are questions or if someone raises her/his hand to speak!


6. #rules rules rules

Showing effort & politeness in all meetings is important! Besides, we all have to commit to some further meeting rules.

  • Focus on the goal and try to not get distracted.
  • Time is precious for everybody – so stick to it.
  • Let people speak and finish their thoughts, do not interrupt.
  • Don’t blame people if they don’t have an opinion.
  • If you are late, don’t interrupt.
  • If you are late, don’t make people to start from scratch and accept the meeting progress.
  • If you think you are not needed in the meeting, raise your concerns.
  • For offline: Don’t play on your phone or laptop during the meeting. Focus.
  • For digital: Don’t have other documents or websites open. Focus.
  • For digital: If you have to leave, write a short notice in the chat.


7. #give applause

The meeting is coming to an end. Reserve at least the last 5 minutes for a proper end.

  • Do a check-out, see if the goal was reached and/or expectations were fulfilled.
  • Define next steps.
  • If there are to-dos, write them down, assign them to participants and define deadlines. Platforms like Teams Planner or OneNote are very handy for things like this.
  • Ask for feedback and/or do a quick retro round.


8. #the last 10%

OK – good job. The meeting is over, tasks are distributed and next steps are defined. Now it’s about the final steps.

  • Send a short thank you e-mail after the meeting and include the protocol and if to-dos are documented somewhere else e.g. in Teams Planner, include the link.
  • If people could not attend the meeting, also send them the notes and the link.
  • If needed – schedule a heads-up meeting and go back to #1 🙂


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