Before Scheduling a Meeting

There are certain preconditions for being successful in what meetings are related. First, remote working guidelines and no meeting day are sufficient but not necessary for a good practice of meetings coordination. Yet, the two patterns mentioned above include rituals that are key to a solid foundation.

Follows essential principles that you need to have in mind before scheduling a meeting:

  1. Own your calendar - keep your calendar accurate (even, for the non-meeting event), be conscious of the different timezones;

  2. Plan our week ahead of time - avoid context switching and be objective on where our time is going to be focused;

  3. Think on the following questions before scheduling a meeting - “Is this an FYI? How will I know that this meeting was a success?”

Ok, so you have decided to schedule a meeting. What’s next?

  1. Keep your meetings short - be objective, be actionable (change your calendar settings so that all meetings default to 30minutes);

  2. What is the problem that you want to solve? - Does your meeting have an agenda?;

  3. Know who needs to attend - is this a need-to-attend meeting or, welcome-if-curious? Is it both?

  4. Pre-Read & Agenda - Share any information that attendees should know and/or read ahead of meeting; define an agenda/order of business before the meeting;

  5. Time - in a distributed team in different timezones, be clear on the time and avoid jargon such as “the first hour of the morning”, “CoP”; Avoid back and forth emails, and use an app such as when having a meeting with externals; avoid back-to-back meetings; Another tool of choice is the clockwise.


We are now having the meeting. What should you expect?

  1. Time - Be there on time! Seriously! If possible, be there ahead of time;

  2. Coordination - Have the agenda ready. You should be flexible, though. If there aren’t items in the agenda ask the ones that are already on the meeting to add their items while others join;

  3. Time and Be respectful - Start after three minutes “out of respect for those who were punctual” - people that run late will add their items to the agenda by order;

  4. Taking Notes - Notes or meeting minute is a burden. If it falls all under one single person, that one will be responsible to pay attention to the conversation and write the details of the meeting in a clear, concise and precise way! If it fails, the blame will fall onto that person. Do it collaboratively as a group-editable meeting minute. Notes are essential for participants that couldn’t attend where they can refer to learn what was discussed and decided.

  5. No meeting high-jacking! - is when someone prevents a meeting from covering scheduled topics until their (unscheduled) topics are covered first. Avoid the potential risk of creating a culture of participants attending a meeting “just in case”. If you run in any off-topics items added to the agenda, ask “is this quick and are all stakeholders here?”


“Walk out of a meeting or drop off a call as soon as it is obvious you aren’t adding value. It is not rude to leave, it is rude to make someone stay and waste their time” - Elon Musk


📖 Distributed Teams: The Art and Practice of Working Together While Physically Apart by John O’Duinn