What is a meeting cadence?
Meeting cadence refers to the intervals at which your team meetings are held. This could be quarterly, monthly, bi-weekly, weekly, or even daily, depending on the team and type of meeting.
For example, if you have a kick-off meeting every Monday to discuss what your team will do for the week, that’s a weekly meeting cadence. If you have a one-to-one meeting every month with each of your direct reports, that’s a monthly meeting cadence.
Why are we talking about meeting cadence?
Too many companies hold their meetings at a cadence that hinders productivity and isn’t necessary.
Think back to that Monday meeting. Couldn’t you send updates or tasks to your team via project management software or email instead of requiring everyone to sync up and listen to irrelevant assignments?
Yes. Yes, you could.
More than that, research shows that holding all of these meetings doesn’t benefit your team or your company’s bottom line.
In their “Large Scale Analysis of Multitasking Behavior During Remote Meetings” report, Microsoft discovered that 39% of multitaskers do so just to catch up on work lost to swamped meeting calendars. And in 2019, Doodle found the cumulative cost of ineffective meetings is as much as $399 billion.
34% of workers say they waste between two and five hours a week in pointless and unproductive meetings.
Meeting cadence needs to be discussed and established in your company, so you’re not seeing the negative effects of too many meetings (like Zoom fatigue, or worse—burnout).
Common meeting cadences (and why these cadences need to change)
Meeting cadences depend on the type of meeting, the number of attendees, action items, and the meeting agenda.
We’re going to take a look at some common meeting cadences and talk about why they’ve become the norm. We’re also going to address why these cadences need to change.
Quarterly meetings occur every few months, in Q1 (January through March), Q2 (April through June), Q3 (July through September), and Q4 (October through December).
For example, you might have a quarterly planning meeting that is held in the first week of each quarter, helping your team to get on track for the next three months.
Typical quarterly meetings are:
- All-hands company meetings
- Business review meetings
- Planning meetings
- Board meetings
- Client meetings
These meetings are often used for planning, reviewing, and putting ideas in place for the future. And some can be done asynchronously.
By using a tool like Yac, team members can share voice messages asynchronously.
Sharing plans, updates, feedback, and other comments via voice messaging lets everyone retain the personal feeling of communication. But it also allows your team to respond when it works for their schedule and gives more thought to their responses than a real-time meeting would allow.
Monthly meetings are often reserved for team leaders getting together to discuss progress and upcoming projects. These often have a set day, like the first Monday of each month.
Common monthly meetings include:
- Management meetings
- Manager one-to-ones
- Project team meetings
Monthly recurring meetings often become commonplace, and attendees join them out of habit, even when there’s no productive conversation to be had.
One way to work around this is to have a monthly “office hour” that all attendees keep on their calendar in case any major talking points come up. This also helps prevent ad-hoc disruptions because employees can choose to wait until office hours to bring up a low-priority question.
Here’s another way to think about the monthly meeting: You need to make a non-urgent decision, and you want feedback from five team members. While you could have everyone join the monthly meeting to discuss it, this eliminates six people hours—360 total minutes.
Instead, have each of your team members join you for separate 10-minute bursts. With this strategy, you’re only taking up 50 minutes total of your time and 50 minutes total of their time for an overall demand of 100 minutes, which is 3.6 times less cost.
Many of these are held weekly or bi-weekly, depending on your team’s needs. Teams often use weekly meetings to discuss progress updates.
Common weekly meetings are:
- Team or department meetings
- Leadership team meetings
A weekly team meeting cadence is often entirely too frequent. These tend to become unnecessary status updates rather than productive conversations.
Instead of having your team sit as each person runs through their weekly update, create an agenda document that can easily take the place of your status meetings. Each week, your team members can list their updates and questions for you to view and respond to asynchronously.
To retain that “meeting feeling,” you can partner your agenda document with async voice messages. Send the agenda requesting weekly updates, then have team members post their updates as a voice message.
You can leave these in a dedicated “Updates” discussion group, or paste Yac’s shareable links in the doc next to their name. Either way, it’s easy to keep track of who has left their update and who still needs to check in.
If the volume of docs you’re working with is starting to feel heavy, there are plenty of other tools you can partner with to hold your weekly async meetings.
Like Miro, for instance:
House your weekly meetings in a more collaborative space, where team members can leave emojis and sticky notes or draw what they’re eating for lunch as an ice breaker.
Or you can screenshare a Notion doc like this:
Studies show that when audio and visuals are combined, information is retained better. Audio alone, such as a phone call, or visuals alone, such as a slide deck, aren’t as powerful at delivering information that sticks as a combined approach.
Leverage this technique asynchronously by discussing any items you need to cover in a voice message while sharing a doc like this. Then, ask team members to share their quick thoughts via text or voice note.
With so many collaborative and productivity tools on the market, you can get creative with how you hold your weekly async meetings. Find what works for you and your team, then introduce some guidelines so you’re not simply replacing time spent in sync meetings with time spent on new meeting formats.
Agile teams often have daily check-ins or daily standup meetings to update where they are in a project. Daily meetings were popularized by development teams using a Scrum framework for their tasks and output tasks daily. But now, they’re everywhere.
Typical daily meetings look like:
- Standup meetings
- Check-in meetings
- Agile team meetings
No matter where they occur in your organization, synchronous daily meetings don’t have to be the go-to format.
Using a tool like Yac, create a standup discussion group for your team to record their individual updates asynchronously. This will go much quicker for everyone on your team, so they can get right back to tackling impactful work.
If a synchronous meeting is required for your team to discuss bugs, obstacles, or other issues, consider moving to a weekly or bi-weekly cadence.
How to find the right meeting cadence for your team
If you realize that your team’s current meeting rhythm isn’t sustainable, it’s time to start thinking about how to discover the best frequency for your team (or if you even need a meeting at all).
To do so, ask yourself questions like the following:
- What’s the subject of the meeting?
- Is there a tangible outcome or goal for the meeting?
- How critical is it—is it organizational, financial, operational?
- Who needs to be there?
- Who doesn’t need to be there?
- How can past experiences inform meeting cadence moving forward? What do your team have to contribute to the matter?
- Could this meeting be held asynchronously? (More on this below)
Moving through each of those questions can help you decide if (a) you need a meeting at all and (b) how often that meeting should occur.
Remember to structure your meeting cadence around your team’s needs. If you can purge their calendars of intrusive meetings, you’ll lighten their working hours and enable them to enjoy uninterrupted family time, exciting side hustles, and workation adventures.
How asynchronous communication (and Yac) can improve your meeting cadence and free up your employees
Fewer meetings = better meetings, which is why asynchronous communication can greatly improve your team’s meetings and productivity in one swoop.
It also enables workations. Employees who are temporarily working in another location (usually a holiday destination) can engage with async audio and video messages in their own time without being restricted by intense meeting schedules that fall in awkward places in their time zone.
A few ways to use async to reduce meeting cadence are:
Hold asynchronous meetings
Asynchronous meetings are the ideal solution for when a real-time meeting doesn’t need to take place. They help your team communicate about a specific topic within a specific time frame, but they don’t require everyone to drop what they’re doing to hop on a call.
Asynchronous meetings fit seamlessly into your team’s workday, allowing them to get impactful work done while still having a voice on certain topics and ideas.
This might look something like:
- You or someone on your team proposes an async meeting about X
- Put together a meeting agenda and send it to your asynchronous attendees
- Set response due date or time, and include how to communicate it (i.e. comments in a document or a Yac discussion group by E.O.P. Wednesday)
- Each team member provides their input in the meeting area on their own time, and after they’ve had more time to think about their response
- Use Yac’s voice messaging tool to record your thoughts for asynchronous discussions
- Save all communication as meeting notes in a searchable, cloud-based tool like Notion or Almanac to reference at a later date
Asynchronous meetings allow your team to still have that high-priority communication without disrupting their working session.
Share voice messages for daily or weekly progress updates
Depending on your team size, sitting in a meeting as everyone provides updates can easily take an hour or more. And when only the team lead or project manager needs to know everyone’s progress, it’s a waste of time.
Instead, share voice messages with Yac to provide progress updates. Each person can quickly record their own voice message and share them in a discussion group specifically for progress updates. Then they get right back to focused work while the project manager checks in and listens to everyone’s updates.
With Yac’s transcription feature, team members can also scan others’ updates to see if they need to listen to any that are relevant to their work.
Keep a standup discussion group in your team communication app
Keep communication streamlined. Create a discussion group or channel in your team communication app specifically for your standups, progress updates, and asynchronous meetings.
This ensures your async meeting communication doesn’t interfere with other work-related communication and that all meeting notes and related information stays centralized in one place.
Encourage async first to allow more time for deep work
Watch as your calendar goes from being swamped with meetings to filled with time for deep work.
Defaulting to asynchronous communication instead of sitting through recurring meeting after recurring meeting opens up your team’s schedules, allowing them to get more focus work done and ramp up their productivity.
Hold office hours for bursty communication
We’ve already stated that fewer meetings mean better meetings. But there is a middle ground: “bursty communication.” This is where communication is issued and responded to in quick bursts instead of long, drawn-out group gatherings.
According to two experts on information systems and organizational communication:
“By designing systems that facilitate bursts of communication and collaboration among team members, employers can achieve higher quality collaboration in their teams, all while balancing employees’ desire to work remotely.” [via Behavioral Scientist]
This is often facilitated by reverse meetings, where a certain period each week (i.e., an office hour) is established for leaders or teams to be available for a meeting. Employees who are worried about alignment can always hop into a call with their teammates during this scheduled time. Otherwise, participants are free to continue their work during this period and catch up on any distributed notes later.
Essentially, you can open opportunities for live collaboration without forcing people to give up their time for hours every week.
Don’t let your meeting cadence be defined by habitual, unproductive meetings. Take charge of your recurring meetings and hit that cancel button on those you can easily switch to more asynchronous or infrequent formats.
In addition, sign up for a free Yac account to start having effective meetings asynchronously. Revolutionize the way your team communicates and watch as your productivity skyrockets.