Workplace meetings are integral for all high-performing teams, whether the meeting is for planning, brainstorming, decision-making, feedback exchange, or to have a retrospective. But too often, meetings feel unproductive or lacking in structure.

Setting team meeting goals (and one-on-one goals, too) helps everyone stay focused on the topics that are most relevant. Starting a meeting with a clear objective can encourage collaboration, empower employees to generate ideas, and cut wasted time.

Read on to learn more about how you can have more productive meetings and save time by setting clear, effective meeting goals.

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What are meeting goals?

Meeting goals are the thing you'd like to accomplish by the end of any given meeting. Because meetings are typically time-bound, you want to set specific, achievable meeting goals that respect people's time.

For example: Your meeting objective might be to share performance feedback with your direct report, then have them define action items based on your conversation. But it might be unrealistic to expect that they'll come up with a game plan to implement your input on the spot. Instead, you can schedule a follow-up meeting and give them time to do some action planning.

You can also define broader, long-term meeting objectives for recurring meetings. And each time you have the meeting, you can set smaller, more specific meeting goals.

For example: A long-term meeting goal might be to improve efficiency on the marketing team. More short-term team meeting objectives could be to start by auditing how the team plans and executes their work, then look for opportunities to streamline it. Finally, team members can implement these changes and come back to follow up on how it's going after a set time.

Why it's important to set meeting goals

When employees are jumping between many meetings in a day, it's easy to get distracted or lose focus. Effective meeting management helps keep the conversation on track, making it more likely you'll achieve your common goal. Starting your business meeting by laying out specific goals and a clear agenda gets everyone on the same page.

Goal setting ahead of meetings offers the following benefits:

  • Time saved: Setting goals ahead of time keeps participants focused and on schedule. It also reduces the need to give a lot of context at the start of the meeting, saving everyone time.
  • Increased productivity: Rather than talking in circles, meeting goals help everyone focus on the relevant information. They help you respect the meeting agenda and avoid going down rabbit holes that are out of scope.
  • Better project completion rates: Every successful meeting helps keep your team aligned as they progress on a project or initiative. More effective meetings make it easier to accomplish each project efficiently and on time.

In a remote and hybrid world of work, meetings play a big role in shaping a team's culture. Check out VIBE: Human-generated culture, a zine produced by Officevibe to help teams curate the best version of themselves.

Setting the right meeting goals for every type of meeting (with examples)

There are a number of team meeting purposes, just as there are various types. Here are a few common types of meetings with great examples of objectives for each one:

Planning meetings

Planning meetings can be with a whole team of people or one-on-one between managers and their direct reports. These meetings are for when you have a clear goal, and it's time to figure out how to achieve it.

Planning meeting goal examples:

  • Prioritize the roadmap for next quarter in accordance with team goals
  • Set milestones towards an employee's professional development goals
  • Determine how a team's workload will adjust when someone departs

Problem-solving meetings or brainstorms

Brainstorms and problem-solving meetings are a time for team members to get creative, exchange their different perspectives, share ideas, and often plan a project or initiative. These types of meetings can take place when teams are facing a specific challenge or simply as a way to work towards their measurable goals.

Brainstorm goal examples:

  • Identify 3 ways to improve poor customer service reviews
  • Come up with an A/B test to improve click-through on a landing page
  • Find new ideas to make social media channels more engaging to younger audiences

Tip: Try the RACI framework to establish clear roles and ownership in team projects. This framework helps keep things clear as a team embarks on a new project. It can be used to support decision-making, planning, and execution.

R: Responsible person who plays a leading role in executing the project
A: Accountable person in charge of managing and delivering the project
C: Consulted people who contribute to the project or provide feedback
I: Informed people who are kept in the loop throughout the process

Feedback meetings

Exchanging feedback is crucial to employee, manager, and team success. Employees at all levels need feedback from their peers, manager, and any direct reports they have. Often, a meeting is a great place to have these conversations. Setting meeting objectives helps keep feedback relevant, structured, and clear.

Feedback meeting goal examples:

  • Collect input from various perspectives on a piece of work that's in progress
  • Let an employee know that their hard work is noticed and valued, and explain how it contributes to the team and company objectives
  • Find out what your team members think you should keep doing, start doing, and stop doing as their manager

Retrospective meetings

Retrospectives help teams reflect on past work to identify success factors and improvement opportunities. When you're having a retrospective meeting, the goal is to understand how you can streamline, optimize, or otherwise improve your performance next time. These are also a great way to build team trust by reminding everyone that you're in this together.

Retrospective goal examples:

  • Draw hypotheses about why a certain project didn't perform as you'd expected
  • Discuss what held the team back from completing your workload in the last sprint
  • Exchange tactics that kept you productive and focused at work in the last month

One-on-one meetings

Finally, one-on-one meetings are absolutely integral to employee engagement, performance, and success. Managers can meet with their team members once every week or two to discuss all the topics that are pertinent to the employee's individual development. One-on-ones are also a great opportunity for managers to give employees recognition for their hard work.

One-on-one meeting goal examples:

  • Setting clear goals that align with an employee's professional development ambitions as well as team objectives
  • Reviewing an employee's job description to make sure it's still relevant and representative of their day-to-day work
  • Sharing constructive feedback on an employee's work or coaching them through a challenge they're facing

Tip: Don't forget to set a clear agenda for every one-on-one! And, be sure to take notes so you have meeting minutes to refer back to next time.

How to set goals for your meetings in 5 simple steps

Setting goals is an important part of leading more productive meetings — but how do you set a great goal? Follow these 5 steps to set better meeting goals from here on out:

1. Identify your desired outcome

Understanding the purpose of the meeting helps you set a measurable goal. If you project yourself into the future after the meeting's been had, what would the optimal results be?

The desired outcome could be to push a project forward, have a decision finalized, or be equipped to take the next step on something.

2. Summarize your meeting objectives

With a clear outcome in mind, you're ready to set goals for your meeting. Try to summarize each goal in one sentence to keep them as clear as possible. By having your goals in writing, you make it easier to track and follow up on them in the future.

3. Ensure your objectives are realistic

Meeting goals should be attainable. You want to avoid being too ambitious and needing to schedule a follow-up meeting because you didn't get through your talking points. So whether you have one goal or several, just be sure it's realistic when you consider the length of your meeting and who will be attending.

4. Share the meeting objectives with participants

Give meeting participants the meeting goals in advance so they can prepare any materials, ideas, or suggestions ahead of time. The more clarity people have on why they're being invited and what their role will be in the meeting, the more equipped they'll be when they show up.

Ahead of your meeting, send out an invite that includes the goals, an agenda, and anything people need to know or prepare for. You can even tag attendees alongside specific agenda items to let them know where their input will be most valuable.

5. Measure your goal progress

You might achieve your meeting goals, or you might not. Either way it's important to keep track of what your meeting accomplishes and any next steps to follow.

You might assign action items to different people and schedule a follow-up. Or, you might end up setting additional goals for a future meeting. Whatever the case, be sure to take note of your progress at every stage.

Setting clear meeting goals with Officevibe

Setting goals is an essential part of making every meeting a success. But planning and monitoring those goals can quickly become a workload of its own. To more effectively set, track, and measure your goals, try Officevibe's goals and OKR tool.

Not only does Officevibe become your goal-setting sidekick, it also creates transparency for your teams. All of your goals are set, stored, and tracked in the same place, helping employees at every level of the organization focus on making the most meaningful contribution.

Equip HR and managers with tools to engage, recognize, and drive performance.