Meeting Structures: A Step-by-Step Guide


Table of Contents

Business meetings usually take place in the work environment. It is a space where the employees and managers of a company meet to discuss a topic of interest. This is an exceptionally important instance within the workplace, since they are held to evaluate major issues that are essential to the company.

This tool enables effective communication within the relevant area. Action plans, decision-making, defining the future of the company, etc. are defined in these meetings. It is the best way to organize the work of teams.


  • It is essential to find the meeting structure that each company needs. This will improve employee productivity and enthusiasm.
  • Each meeting will be different. It will depend mainly on who the members are, how often the meetings are held and their duration. Many meetings can be counterproductive: only about 50% of the meeting time is effective, well-spent, and engaging, and these numbers decrease even more when it comes to remote meetings (1).
  • The focus of meetings should be on planning, problem-solving and decision-making. Defining action plans for the achievement of objectives is crucial. Deciding on the structure to be used will be vital to whether or not the meeting will be successful.

What you should know about meeting structure

You should first define the objectives to be discussed at the meeting. Then, choose the type of meeting structure you prefer on the basis of this objective and the resources available to you. You should discuss the points for each meeting, so that the participants can prepare for the meeting and achieve the best results.

What are some effective meeting structures?

There are different meeting structures. Each one can provide you with tools to achieve better results.

(Source: Candelaria Bulacio/ Gitnux)

1. Daily stand-up or huddle

It is basically a daily meeting which is held every day so that the team is informed about the tasks that have been done and that will be done. It includes the leaders and their work groups. They are usually short, at the same place and time.


  • Focuses on important and critical tasks
  • Requires a leader
  • Takes little daily time


  • No focus on task status
  • If there is no leader, it is useless
  • Loses sight of smaller tasks
  • Takes too much time per month

To achieve a successful daily huddle, it is recommended that you start with your leadership team. The main idea is to push back, without directly solving the problem, giving it time to resolve. Ideally, form and assign small work teams.

2. Round-robin

Ideal for brainstorming!

Round-robin is a meeting structure where everyone has an equal opportunity. The key here is a smart leader who can drive the meeting forward, as it is a democratic system in which all participants have a voice. However, sometimes this doesn’t happen if the leader doesn’t know how to run the meeting well. If someone talks too much and others let their turn pass, the objective will not be achieved.

It is very important to not have too many points to be discussed, if you want your meeting to be effective. At the same time, the leader of the meeting can establish time limits for each person to speak and express their thoughts.

3. Open forum

The forum is a space where people with a common interest meet to discuss or deal with certain topics. It is generally an open space where one or more people propose a topic and the others listen to it and can debate on it.

This type of meeting is ideal for giving different points of view. It is mainly used in non-profit organizations. There are three types of forums: public forums, private forums and protected forums.

4. Committee

The committee in a company is a small group of people who get together, raise issues, discuss them and propose solutions. Once the topic is defined, a larger committee or the entire company is informed. The main purpose is to deal with more important or more sensitive issues.

On the other hand, we have executive and management committees. They are in charge of setting the company’s path, short and long-term goals, strategy, vision, mission, and objectives. This committee is of vital importance to the company.

5. Fishbowl

It is a meeting system where 4 or 5 people (no more) are inside “the fishbowl” and the rest are outside as “spectators”. The people who are in the fishbowl are active, and discuss the issues, while those who are not part of it only listen. However, an active member can become a spectator and a spectator can become active in the same meeting. Simply by moving between the inner and outer circle.

It is a great tool to get out of the typical long assemblies, since participants improve their listening and practice restraint, participation is voluntary, and a more fluid conversation is achieved with fewer interruptions. Egos and nerves are reduced in this type of meeting. The key here is not to have too many people in the room.

How to conduct a business meeting?

The way the leader conducts a business meeting will be the key to its success or failure.

(Source: Candelaria Bulacio/ Gitnux)

Preparation first and foremost

One of the most important steps is preparing for the meeting. Planning involves defining the objectives and the way to achieve them. Proper preparation is: listing the topics, how long each one will take, and who the people involved are. Elon Musk advised to “eliminate all long meetings, unless you are sure that they bring value to the whole audience”. In that case, he recommends keeping them very short (2).


Communicating the date and time of the meeting, along with the topics to be discussed, is essential for participants’ better preparation and attendance. If necessary, you can send them the documents and topics to be discussed by e-mail, where they can confirm their attendance.

Create a presentation

Meetings with presentations are very useful for both the participants and the leader, since they will be able to see the topic guide, which helps them to follow the meeting. The guide can be previously sent by email so that they can make notes before and during the meeting.

See the best Presentation Software

Make a summary

It is ideal that the meeting is written and can be sent once the meeting is over.

It is important to have a backup of information in case doubts arise months later.

Plan feedback

Encourage participants to give their feedback on the topics discussed at the meeting a few days later. You can Improvements achieve improvements from this analysis.

Be efficient

Refers to a defined day in the week when it will be a day free of meetings. This makes it easier for people to focus a whole day on their work without having to be aware of meetings.

What meeting structure is best?

There is no one type of structure that is better than another. It depends on the type of people, topics, companies, etc., that will use them.

The idea is to have a meeting where everyone can provide ideas, opinions, and solutions.

Companies use different structures. The topics to be dealt with are decision-making, problem-solving, task control, proposals, etc. The type of meeting structure you prefer will depend on this. At the same time, each team can choose the meeting it prefers. While one team has the fishbowl meeting, another team will be a committee, there is nothing defined and the teams are the ones who select it.

What must be in place for a meeting to be successful?

The following list is essential for your meetings to be successful.

1. Facilitator

A facilitator is a neutral person who coordinates and controls the meeting. He/she knows when it is time to let people speak and knows when it is time to cut a topic, he/she is a mediator. He/she controls the time and always leads the meeting towards its central axis.

It is essential that the facilitator follows the conversation with active listening, since they will rely on him/her when they have a doubt.

2. Clear focus

The main culprit of poor time management is often a lack of organization and prioritization. To avoid this problem, it is necessary to plan your meeting in advance. The first step should be to determine the main reasons for convening the meeting and to define the objectives to be achieved (3). It is very important to be clear about the topics to be discussed. The people participating in the meeting should have a list of the topics to be discussed, so that when the date arrives, they can be prepared and the meeting will be more efficient.

3. Relevant attendees

Ideally, the facilitator should also have assistants at these meetings. Those chosen for this task are more observant people, who speak less, but can give their opinion on certain topics at key moments.

4. Turn words into action

At the end of the meeting, it is important to make a list of assigned topics, responsible for each task and date. This ensures that there is a person behind the activity to be developed, who will be responsible for its execution. Moreover, effective work meetings allow you to visualize to what extent your team is capable of generating ideas and planning actions with reference to the company’s objectives (4).

5. It is related to the previous meetings

As we said before, having the summary of previous meetings can be very important, to put a common thread to the topics discussed and those still to be discussed. This will help to keep the various meetings in line and gives the feeling that the meetings are ongoing, rather than beginning and ending without resolution.

6. Organized and on time

Punctuality is key to successful meetings. Participants should arrive before the meeting starts, since once it has begun, it is distracting to others when someone arrives late. Make sure that the agenda and specific meeting objectives are prepared thoroughly, and that attendees have the necessary materials beforehand. This will help everyone to focus on the essentials and not get sidetracked (5). Punctuality is a synonym for efficient and organized meetings.

7. Efficiency

Depending on the type of meeting, it’s length ideally it should be between 25 and 50 minutes. A group of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) conducted a rather unique experiment: “Our conclusion is that the optimal number of days off is three, leaving two available for these meetings for two reasons: maintaining social connections and managing weekly schedules (6)”.


People love to meet, but too many meetings can bring more problems than solutions. There is nothing worse than a meeting with no purpose, they are a waste of time. Most business meetings tend to waste a lot of time, making them ineffective. The main culprit of poor time management is often a lack of organization and prioritization. To avoid this problem, it is necessary for those responsible for convening a meeting to be able to plan it in advance (7).

In this article, we showed you the key points for the different meeting structures and the keys to efficient meetings. Nowadays, teamwork is fundamental, and its main tool is meetings.


1. Rogelberg, Steven G. . The surprising science behind successful remote meetings [Internet]. MITsloan; 2020 [2022].

2. Ferro Deane, Francisco. Elon Musk’s 7 tips for greater productivity in business [Internet]. Scope; 2021 [2022]. 29 November 2021. EFFECTIVE WORK MEETINGS: RULES FOR LEADING A MEETING [Internet]. Linkedin. Human capital: at stake; 2022 [2022].

3. Almada, Daniel. EFFECTIVE WORKING MEETINGS: RULES FOR LEADING A MEETING [Internet]. Linkedin. Human capital: at stake; 2022 [2022].

4. Hill, Norman. Effective business meetings | 10 guidelines to follow [Internet]. Business and Enterprise; 2021 [2022].

5. PABLO RODRIGUEZ. When eliminating meetings three days a week increases productivity by 73% [Internet]. EL PAÍs ; 2022 [2022].

6. PABLO RODRÍGUEZ. When eliminating meetings three days a week increases productivity by 73% [Internet]. EL PAÍS ; 2022 [2022].

7. Cerem Communication. EFFECTIVE WORKING MEETINGS: RULES FOR LEADING A MEETING [Internet]. Cerem ; 2013 [2022].


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