Types of Meetings
Co-workers in business meeting

If you find yourself responsible for planning meetings at work as the administrative professional, a good place to start is to understand the different types of meetings in a company and which ones you will be responsible for planning. Whether employees are working at home or in a traditional office setting, office employees and management still spend a great deal of time in meetings.  Many employees dislike meetings because they feel they are a waste of time.  However, meetings are a way of life in most organizations so those responsible for planning and running meetings need the skills to run effective and productive meetings.  

Types of Meetings Explained

There are many different types of meetings at work that the administrative assistant may be required to plan.  The most common different kinds of meetings are explained below.

Board of Directors Meetings

It doesn’t matter whether a company operates as a non-profit or for-profit company, it always has a board of directors. These meetings usually follow clearly defined written policies and procedures regarding how the meetings are to be conducted. This is a formal meeting of an organization’s board members. This meeting is usually held at regular intervals, such as once a month or once a quarter, to discuss major problems and policy issues within the organization. All individuals that make up an organization’s board of directors are usually in attendance and the meeting is conducted by the chairman of the board.  A meeting agenda is required which must be distributed before the meeting and a note taker, often the administrative professional, is usually in attendance who is responsible for generating the minutes of the meeting.

Staff Meetings

One of the most common types of meetings at work is the staff meeting. Staff meetings are normally informal, regularly held meetings within an organization generally attended by the executive or department manager and all those who report to him/her.  These meetings are usually conducted to discuss status reports of projects, directions, plans and ongoing issues and resolutions.

Departmental Meetings

Departmental meetings are usually organized by the head of a department, such as the engineering department, in a company. These meetings involve everyone in the department and are often held at least once a week. Departmental meetings are important as they allow team members to collaborate on ideas, get updates on projects and make strategies for going forward. Departmental meetings usually require an agenda and they are chaired by the department head.

Committee and Task Force Meetings

A Task Force is a group that is formed to deal with a specific problem and is usually disbanded once the problem is solved.  A committee,  on the other hand, generally deals with ongoing concerns and functions from year to year.  A committee meeting is a gathering of people working together toward a common goal (onboardmeetings.com). For example, a committee may be formed by any group of people aiming towards a common goal such as ongoing fundraising events through-out the year or creating or changing office policies and procedures.

Project Team Meetings

The types of team meetings vary but project team meetings are the most common. Project teams are formed for a variety of reasons but are most commonly used when a new product is being produced and needs to be brought to market.  I have worked on many project teams during my career and they usually consist of the design, implementation and testing team, the manufacturing group, quality and the sales and marketing group.  The design team are typically engineers hired to design and implement the product.  The manufacturing team is responsible for the overall production and quality of the product and the sales and marketing people are responsible for the marketing and sales of the product.

Customer/Client Types of Meetings

Whenever there is a product or service, there is always a customer or client requiring it.  The customer could be the organization who will purchase the finished product or a client that may be requiring a specific service.  For example, a virtual assistant may meet with a client to discuss the details of the service they are required to perform.

International Meetings

International Meetings are often held electronically with individuals located in other countries.  International meetings can be extremely beneficial for attendees but do require that the administrative professional be familiar with time zone and cultural differences. This can range from several hours to whole days in some circumstances.  Also being sensitive and respectful of the different cultures attending the meeting is required which may require some research on behalf on the administrative professional.

Meeting Formats

Once you understand the type of meeting you’re responsible for planning, it’s time to think about the best meeting format to conduct the meeting. The pandemic has definitely changed the way organizations meet and has thrust many organizations into the online format, often creating challenges for businesses and organizations who were otherwise unprepared.  It’s not uncommon today for offices to be divided between remote and in-office workers, creating a hybrid situation of both remote and local attendees. Offices today tend be smaller and many people have not returned back to the office at all.    Because of this, it is crucial that the administrative professional be prepared to design and run the meeting effectively. 

Face to Face Meetings

Board of Directors meeting conducted in face to face meeting format.

While less common than at any other time in the past, face to face meetings are still effective ways for people to gather to discuss issues or problems in person.  The advantages of face to face meetings has always been the fact that participants can see and hear other group members, observe their body language and deal more effectively with problems.  There are however, some disadvantages including cost of travel and accommodations as well as the time involved.  A good example of a Face to Face meeting would be a Board of Directors meeting where board members are usually required to attend in person.

Hybrid Meetings

Hybrid meetings involve one group of in-person/face-to-face attendees connecting virtually with other the meeting attendees. A recent article by irmagazine.com mentioned that management and non-management teams want more hybrid shareholder meetings in 2023, according to a new survey by ICR. This tends to be the trend in many organizations today. The hybrid meeting is probably here to stay as people still want to be a part of the meeting whether they can attend or not. Whatever their reason for not attending in person, they’ll still want to join virtually. It will be the job of administrative professional planning the meeting to ensure that all attendees feel welcome and engaged.

Web Conferences

A Web conference is an online service that allows you to hold live meetings, conferencing, presentations and training via the internet particularly on TCP/IP connections. You can connect to the conference either by telephone or using your computer’s speakers and microphone through a VoIP connection. There are different types of web conferencing including Web Meetings, Webinars and Webcasts.

Web Meeting

A web meeting is when two or more people at different locations collaborate and share information via the internet on their devices. Many experts agree that it is easier to coordinate activities, check progress, and review status through online meetings than in person.  While web meetings aren’t anything new, GoToMeeting and Zoom have become common ways to hold virtual meetings with persons who are physically present in many other locations around the world.  These mediums allow participants to collaborate by looking at PowerPoint slides, drawings, charts or Excel workbooks allowing everyone to see changes and their impact.  Of course, learning how to use this technology is key before you start planning and organizing web meetings.

Webinars

Webinars are virtual events that are hosted online. They can be hosted by a single person or presented by a panel of experts who share their knowledge on a particular topic. Webinars allow attendees to learn from instructors or subject matter experts in a convenient and cost-effective way. Viewing webinars and presentations from your own computer enables you to efficiently take notes either by writing by hand or by typing.

Webcast

A webcast is a type of media file used on the Internet. It is distributed using streaming media technology to many people at the same time. It is basically the same as broadcasting over the internet. (wikapedia). A webcast is used primarily as a presenting tool where the presenter and the audience have very little interaction.

Video and Audio Conferencing

Audio Conferencing – This form of conferencing has been around a long time and involves the participants dialing into the conference bridge via a single toll free phone number and joining other participants on the call. Audio conferencing requires at least two people in different locations to work. Due to its affordability and ease of set-up, some companies like audio conferencing for holding meetings where video is not required.

Video ConferencingVideo conferencing is a type of virtual, online meeting where two or more people talk through a video and audio call in real-time. While video conferencing has been around for years, it has gained in popularity since the pandemic and some of the providers like Zoom, GoogleMeet and Microsoft Teams have benefited from this trend.

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