Meetings are a vital aspect of the working environment. We regularly attend several types of meetings, including brainstorming, decision-making, and problem-solving.
This piece will help us look at ad hoc meetings: when they should be held, whether agendas and follow-ups are required, and much more.
What are Ad Hoc Meetings?
Ad hoc meetings, also called impromptu or one-time meetings, occur outside of your usual routine. An ad hoc meeting takes place outside of your typical meeting schedule or rhythm. They are also known as one-off meetings.
Such meetings are called to address a specific issue or debate, as opposed to recurring meetings, which are held at regular intervals and cover ongoing, regular topics. Ad hoc meetings can be either unstructured (no preparation or planning) or structured (with an agenda and meeting minutes).
These spontaneous gatherings are especially useful when something unusual occurs, such as an emergency or crisis. They could also be useful for spontaneous brainstorming, last-minute project revisions, workload adjustments and other scenarios.
However, ad hoc gatherings should not be used excessively. Hold them infrequently to prevent disrupting work and resulting in a lack of productivity and motivation.
When are ad hoc meetings required?
In general, whether you work for a large corporation, a non-profit, a school or another institution, you will be required to attend regular meetings. You might have weekly update sessions, monthly team meetings, or a formal quarterly board meeting.
Ad hoc meetings may be called for:
- Unexpected situations. Something that necessitates an immediate decision or action that cannot wait until a routine meeting, such as a data breach.
- Situations or events that are unrelated to the issues covered in your regular recurrent sessions and/or with a different person or group of persons than you normally meet with.
- The meeting is held with people outside your organization, similar to a sales or information-gathering meeting.
- Irregular happenings. For example, a company anniversary or a fundraiser.
- A surprising opportunity. For instance, a meeting to connect and strengthen ties with a work partner who happens to have traveled to the same place as you.
Do Ad Hoc Meetings Require an Agenda?
These impromptu gatherings are typically unplanned and occur at the last minute. As a result, they rarely have a set agenda.
However, it is determined by the objective of the meeting and the amount of time available to prepare for it.
That is, creating even a small agenda provides significant advantages for ad hoc meetings. It gives direction, establishes expectations, and boosts the meeting’s overall productivity and effectiveness.
Furthermore, sending the agenda to the participants ahead of time allows them to arrive prepared, saving time. Depending on the purpose and expected outcome, your agenda for the ad hoc meeting may include questions to be answered, problems to be solved, discussion topics, or anything else pertinent to the circumstance.
What Type of Agenda Works Best for an Ad Hoc Meeting?
Agendas are important for meetings because:
- It allows the person calling the meeting to collect his thoughts and write down what he hopes to gain from the meeting.
- When you communicate the agenda with your meeting participants before the meeting, you set their expectations and give them time to prepare.
- It helps everyone get ready for the meeting, which makes it much more productive!
It is more important to have an agenda in ad hoc meetings than to worry about its structure. The idea is to have something to work with to achieve effectiveness. It depends on the meeting’s aim and desired outcome.
Examples of what you could include:
- In an information-gathering meeting, it is best to list the questions you need to answer.
- If it’s an emergency meeting, list the problem(s) that you need to tackle.
- For a general meeting, list the discussion topic(s) and write out possible options.
- Hiring meeting? List the positions that need to be filled.
Let’s take an example of a general meeting agenda to plan a 5th anniversary party. You can write out questions and discussions for the ad hoc meeting this way:
Question: Should we make the program official or formal or keep things casual?
Question: Which date works best for our team’s schedule?
Discussion: Come up with locations for the anniversary party. Should it be the board room, the boss’s house, or a conference center?
Ask for volunteers to:
- Call some of the sites suggested.
- Create a list of clients and coworkers to invite.
- Design the invitations.
- Order meal platters.
- Make table decorations, and so on.
Do ad hoc meetings require a follow-up?
Some ad hoc meetings do not require any follow-up; however, others may have a follow-up meeting to review the outcome or collect feedback.
However, you can send a summary email that includes the choices and action items made during the meeting, as well as the people who are responsible for each action item.
Tips to Make Ad-hoc Meetings Effective
- Determine your purpose: have a clear goal for the meeting and the required outcome.
- Choose the right participants: invite only the necessary participants.
- Set the meeting’s duration: it is best to make the duration as short as possible.
- Develop a question-based agenda: you can write down questions to be discussed around a problem rather than just writing the problem.
- Set ground rules; this will help to avoid distractions and interruptions that will prolong the meeting.
- Use the correct tools; these help to make better plans and reduce follow-up time.
- End the meeting on time; please avoid unnecessary talk. Have specific discussions, assign tasks with expected results, and end the meeting. If you can achieve all these in about 15 minutes, why not?
Advantages of Ad hoc Meetings
Some of the benefits of ad hoc meetings in organizations include:
1. Saves time
An ad hoc meeting may require less time to prepare and plan than a typical workplace meeting. Executives organize them by requesting that selected employees and management meet at a specific location to address significant issues.
Impromptu meetings are typically shorter in duration than regular meetings because they do not have lengthy agendas. Executives convene these meetings to handle specific events and make quick judgments without deviating from predetermined subjects.
The meeting begins with a brief introduction, followed by a quick discussion of the agenda items. There may not be many presenters at this gathering, which means it will end fast to ensure quick decisions.
2. It helps to make urgent decisions
Companies may experience situations requiring immediate decisions. External causes may cause clients, consumers, or investors to request meetings unexpectedly.
This enables staff to immediately explore alternatives and build crisis resolution plans. Executives might schedule meetings for clients to discuss their concerns, or they can help firm executives and managers develop plans to mitigate the impact of undesirable conditions on the organization.
Disadvantages of Ad hoc Meetings
Interrupts the work schedule
To organize an impromptu meeting, CEOs generally disrupt employees’ scheduled routines. This could disrupt their workflow and productivity.
It may also cause workplace delays, as managers may suspend team tasks to implement meeting conclusions. Employees may be working on tasks that need concentration and focus, and an unplanned meeting could have a detrimental impact on their performance.
Ad hoc meetings are a wonderful approach to discussing answers to urgent problems and requirements in modern times.
Businesses frequently find themselves in unexpected situations. When such situations arise, managers and business leaders have little choice but to convene impromptu meetings to address the issue and find a solution as soon as feasible.
Before you begin, identify the aim and expected outcome, invite just the appropriate people, and prepare questions to direct the meeting toward the intended outcome.