While by no means ‘exhaustive’, we researched and assembled various meeting types and purposes of meetings from dozens of sources, too many to provide attribution for a brief blog (write us if you want more detail). We discovered it somewhat humorous that the world does not even agree on the definition of a ‘type.’ We discovered the purposes of meetings or meeting types are stratified by:
Stratification Factors Behind the Purposes of Meetings
- Audience (eg, shareholder vs. stakeholder)
- Deliverable (output)
- Location (onsite vs. offsite)
- Meeting leader role (manager vs. facilitator)
- Outcome (desired)
- Resource (eg, production vs. project)
- Rules (eg, open vs. private)
- Size (quantity of participants and size of venue)
- Style (eg, face to face vs. virtual)
- Timing (variations included chronology, duration, frequency, and preparation time)
- Topic (eg, financial review vs. party), and
- Variants of the above
Some sources provided context and justified their topology. We especially love the following comment because it is so definitive, albeit wrapped in truth (source-Seth Godin):
“There are three types of meetings. Meetings are marketing in real time with real people. (A conference is not a meeting. A conference is a chance for a circle of people to interact). There are only three kinds of classic meetings:
This is a meeting where attendees are informed about what is happening (with or without their blessing). While there may be a facade of conversation, it’s primarily designed to inform.
This is a meeting where the leader actually wants feedback or direction or connections. You can use this meeting to come up with an action plan, or develop a new idea, for example.
This is a meeting where the other side is supposed to say yes but has the power to say no.”
“While there are a variety of reasons for call group meeting (some of which have little to do with decision making or problem solving), for our purposes we will categorize decision-making meetings into one of the following.
- Problem solving
- Operational decisions
“There are six types of meetings:
- Organizational meetings;
- Regular meetings;
- Special or emergency meetings;
- Work sessions;
- Public hearings; and
- Executive sessions.”
We did little to cleanup or edit the following and do not attempt to defend it, rather to share it. Where redundancies were obvious we combined some definitions. Some purposes of meetings or meeting types were provided without definition. Some purposes of meetings or meeting types appear redundant, but due to rhetorical differences, we could not be certain if they were identical or not so we left them as discrete purposes of meetings or meeting types.
The 94 types or purposes of meetings we identified are as follows.
- Ad hoc Meetings: A meeting called for a special purpose. A good example of an ad-hoc meeting is a team of individuals chosen by the company to join a trade show and represent the company so a meeting is needed to discuss the important things and activities during the event.
- Board Meetings: If the meeting participants are solely board and directors members of the organization, definitely it is termed as board meeting.
- Brainstorming Meetings
- Breakout Meetings
- Business Meetings: With customers, clients, colleagues, etc.; often require presentations.
- Class Meetings
- Client Meetings: Some organizational teams start working on a new project and possibly a new client through a discussion.
- Collaborative Meetings: Some of your employees and managers may work closely with suppliers, customers or business partners on projects such as joint product development or supply chain improvements. Bringing external groups into meetings with your employees helps to strengthen business relationships and gives your employees a greater sense of customer focus.
- Combination Meetings: A type of meeting according to objective is called combination meeting wherein two or more of the meeting categories are applied in a single meeting session.
- Commitment Building Meetings
- Community Meetings: To interpret decisions, get input, build relationships, gain trust, etc.
- Conference Call Meetings
- Conferences: A highly structured, moderated meeting, like a presentation, where various participants contribute following a fixed agenda.
- Coordinating Meetings: To assure all know what’s happening when and who is responsible.
- Creative Meetings: To define new markets, create new products, etc.
- Discussions: A meeting where the leader actually wants feedback or direction or connections. You can use this meeting to come up with an action plan, or develop a new idea, for example.
- Emergency Meetings: A meeting called to address a crisis, whether internal or external. Such meetings are often arranged with very little notice. If the emergency meeting conflicts with another appointment, the emergency meeting typically takes precedence. If a serious problem, such as a fire or major financial loss occurs, it’s essential to inform the whole company so that all employees understand the implications and the changes that will occur. In the event of a serious fire, for example, employees may have to work in temporary accommodation with limited access to telephones and other resources. A major disaster or loss may lead to redundancies or even closure. By communicating openly in the meeting, you can reduce feelings of uncertainty in the workforce and avoid the risk of rumors spreading.
- Evaluation Meetings: Evaluation meetings are held to evaluate a new process, structural modification, new program, etc. The important issue is to establish a set of evaluative criteria based on the goals of the new program or process.
- Event Planning Meetings
- Executive Sessions: If allowed by charter, these meetings are closed to the public and press and generally are held for discussion of legal (litigation, advice from counsel, etc.), personnel, or other confidential matters. There are very specific legal provisions for closing the meeting such as recording the vote of council members who authorized the meeting and recording the circumstances of the meeting in the official minutes of the municipality. Executive meetings should be held only in accordance with the strict mandates of the Open Meetings Act.
- Family Meetings
- Feedback Meetings: Feedback meetings are conducted when the purpose is to let individuals provide reactions and feedback to one or several participants on a certain presentation or project.
- Feedforward Meetings: When there is a need to make status reports and present new information, participants gather for a feedforward meeting. It is otherwise known as reporting and presenting.
- Financial Review (or Update) Meetings
- Holiday Meetings
- Information Sharing Meetings: Where attendees are informed about what is happening (with or without their blessing). While there may be a facade of conversation, it is primarily designed to inform.
- Interdepartmental Meetings: To get input, interpret decisions and policies, share info, etc.
- Introduction Meetings
- Investigative Meetings: Generally when conducting a pre-interview, exit interview or a meeting among the investigator and representative
- Investor Meetings
- Keynote Speeches
- Kickoff (or First) Meetings: The first meeting with the project team and the client of the project to discuss the role of each team member. This initial gathering is called a kick-off meeting. It is also during this time wherein members are assigned individual tasks on the project.
- Large Conference Meetings
- Leadership Meetings
- Management Meetings: A conference among managers and supervisors is called a management meeting. If the meeting participants are solely board and directors members of the organization, definitely it is termed as board meeting.
- Manager Meetings
- Meetings to Plan Bigger Meetings
- New Business Pitch Meetings
- New Product Launch Meetings
- Off-site Meetings: Also called “offsite retreat” and known as an meeting in the UK.
- One-on-one Meetings: A meeting is not necessarily composed of a group of individuals. A discussion of two individuals is called a one-on-one meeting. Your boss may sometimes conduct a one-on-one meeting with you and the other employees individually to talk about your performance appraisal.
- Online Meetings
- Open Meetings: Best used for internal team collaborations. No designated host needed. Anyone start meetings at any time.
- Operational Decision Meetings: Make decisions such as staffing, purchase, or work method decision. The issue here is the establishment of set of criteria (derived from the goal of the decision and claimant issues) by which to evaluate alternatives.
- Organizational Meetings: Usually very soon after each election, a meeting may be necessary to establish the procedures concerning conduct of council meetings. Local practices may vary, but generally the meeting should establish: regular dates, times, and locations for routine council meetings; rules of procedure for conducting business at meetings (Robert’s Rules, etc.); and assignment of council member duties (i.e., mayor pro tempore, committee chairpersons, etc.). Many municipalities adopt and publish a schedule of meeting dates for an entire year, while charter sets others.
- Party Meetings
- Permission Meetings: This is a meeting where the other side is supposed to say yes but has the power to say no.
- Pitch Meetings
- Planning Meetings: If certain structuring and future resolutions need to be made, a planning meeting can be called.
- Political Meetings
- Pre-Bid Meetings: A meeting of various competitors and or contractors to visually inspect a jobsite for a future project. The future customer or engineer who wrote the project specification to ensure all bidders are aware of the details and services expected of them normally hosts the meeting. Attendance at the Pre-Bid Meeting may be mandatory. Failure to attend usually results in a rejected bid.
- Presentation Meetings: A highly structured meeting where one or more people speak and a moderator leads the proceedings. The purpose is usually to inform. Attendees may have an opportunity to ask questions, but typically their participation is limited.
- Private Meetings: Used for managed meetings, where the host has control. Meeting starts when host opens meeting. Host controls who can or cannot enter live meeting and host controls role delegation.
- Problem-Solving Meetings: When a specific problem emerges, usually manifesting itself in the form of some type of response from a dissatisfied stakeholder or claimant, a problem-solving meeting is held. These meeting take one of two general forms.
- Solve the immediate problem—the focus of this type of meeting is to determine how to satisfy the immediate concerns of the dissatisfied stakeholder. For example, if a specific customer has received a batch of defective parts, the issue might be, How to we get non-defective parts to this customer?
- Solve the long-range problem—the focus of this type of meeting is to reduce the likelihood of a given type of problem surfacing in the future, by diagnosing the cause(s) of this recurring problem and developing a solution consistent with these causes that solves the problem. In the above example, the problem might be defining as, How do we reduce the likelihood of defective parts being produced.
- Production Meetings
- Project Meetings: Project meetings bring together people from different departments working on a specific task, such as new product development or business reorganization. They take a number of different forms, including planning and progress meetings, brainstorming sessions, or design and review meetings.
- Project Planning Meetings
- Public Hearings: The council holds public hearings when it is considering a subject having unusually high community impact and when it is considering items for which local, state, or federal regulations mandate such hearings. The main purpose of such a hearing is to obtain testimony from the public. An issue on which a public hearing is held may be the subject of several work sessions and may generate potentially more citizen participation than can be accommodated at a regular meeting with its other normal business items. An additional meeting of the council for a public hearing can be valuable in providing the public an opportunity to learn the current status of a project and give the council, as the public policy makers, clear indications of public sentiment before making a decision. Additional work sessions at a subsequent meeting generally follow the public hearing before final council action on the matter at a regular hearing.
- Public Relations Meetings
- Quick Business Meetings: To check-in, coordinate, share info, prepare for next steps, anticipate customer or employee needs, answer questions for each other, etc.
- Regular Meetings: This is the official, final public action meeting. It is the only meeting where the council may adopt ordinances or regulations. One very important feature of the regular meeting is the public forum aspect. The regular meeting generally includes at least a citizen comment period and often incorporates a formal public hearing on one or more subjects. While allowing public comment to some degree, the regular meeting always allows the public an opportunity to hear the council discussion on each subject.
- Religious Meetings
- Report Meetings
- Research Review Meetings
- Sales Conference: A sales conference is an important communication and motivational tool. Sales representatives spend the majority of their time away from the office, often working alone. Holding a sales conference brings your sales team together with other members of the company who affect their success, such as marketing staff, product specialists and senior managers. You can use the conference to launch important initiatives such as a new product announcement or a major advertising campaign, as well as communicating your company’s plans for the next quarter or the next financial year.
- Sales Meetings
- School Meetings
- Seminar: A structured meeting with an educational purpose. Seminars are usually led by people with expertise in the subject matter.
- Shareholder Meetings
- Skills Building Meetings
- Small Conference Meetings
- Special Meetings: Regular meetings are scheduled in advance (usually one or two per month) to allow the public, press, and persons having business for the council to attend the meetings. However, special situations may require convening a special meeting often with little, if any, advance notice. Examples of special meeting items include, but are not limited to: emergency ordinances, unexpected matters requiring official action before the next regularly scheduled meeting, emergency equipment replacement, financial problems, and health and safety emergencies. While the occasional need for such meetings cannot be denied, the term “emergency” should be used very carefully to avoid abuse of the special meeting.
- Sports Meetings (and Events)
- Staff Meetings: Typically a meeting between a manager and those that report to the manager. Staff meetings enable you to keep employees informed on issues that affect their work. Your managers or supervisors hold regular departmental meetings to update employees on progress or deal with any issues affecting their department. If there is a major policy change or other issue that affects the whole company, you may prefer to hold a meeting of all employees to explain the change.
- Stakeholder Meetings
- Stand-up Meetings: A meeting with attendees physically standing. The discomfort of standing for long periods helps to keep the meetings short, (no more than 10 minutes to plan the day, make announcements, set expectations, assure understanding and alignment, identify upcoming difficulties, etc.).
- Standing Meetings: A regularly scheduled appointment, such as a weekly one-on-one with a boss or a department; or a project meeting taking place at intervals until the project is over. Since these meetings recur, their format and agenda become relatively well established. Although it’s important to hold these meetings at routine intervals for convenience and consistency, at times they can be rescheduled.
- Status Meetings: A meeting that is leader-led and is done through a one-way communication reporting is called a status meeting.
- Strategy Building Meetings: Strategy or planning meetings are called to determine the future direction of the organization or unit. Generally the issues of the mission and current strategies for achieving it are discussed.
- Strategy Review Meetings: Using tools like the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) model; the current direction of the organization is assessed. If it is discovered that changes in the environment render the current mission and/or strategy inappropriate, a new strategic plan is developed.
- Strategy Testing and Adapting Meetings
- Task-Related Meetings: Task-related meetings use the knowledge and experience of group members to accomplish a work task, such as problem-solving, decision-making, fact-finding, planning, etc. These meetings are highly interactive, and involve two-way communication between all participants. Task-related meetings also tend to fall apart more quickly with poor meeting management. The two variations include:
- Directed—the leader runs the meeting and controls the agenda. These are the most common types of meetings.
- Facilitated—an impartial facilitator runs the meeting and controls the agenda and technique. These are the least common, but are growing in use, as they are the most effective for decision-making and building.
- Team Meetings: A meeting among colleagues working on various aspects of a team project.
- Termination Meetings
- Topical Meetings: A gathering called to discuss one subject, such as a work issue or a task related to a project.
- Training Session Meetings
- Trip Planning Meetings
- Twelve Step Meetings
- Update Meetings
- Webinar Meetings: For presentations, trainings and town hall meetings. Meeting starts when host opens meeting and attendees are muted upon entry. Host controls host delegation.
- Work Meetings: To produce a product or intangible result such as a decision.
- Work Sessions (workshops): These are the most common meetings in most municipalities. Work sessions are essentially “shirt-sleeves” meetings where the council discusses issues informally to achieve more complete understanding of one or more subjects. Many work sessions are held in another room away from the formal council chamber with a “round-table” type seating arrangement to promote informal discussion. These sessions take many forms and cover virtually any subject matter. Typical work sessions will include a variety of items and will generally serve as a background discussion about items scheduled for official action at the next regular meeting.
- Year Beginning Meetings
- Year End Meetings
Much is left to wonder . . . but after this exhausting effort, we would prefer a holiday, party, or sports meeting. Why do you conduct and attend meetings (please check all that apply):
Finally, MG RUSH professional facilitation curriculum focuses on providing methodology. Each student thoroughly practices methodology and tools before class concludes. Some call this immersion. We call it the road to building impactful facilitation skills.
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