Meetings are a great way to get your team on the same page, discuss ideas, and plan for the future. They can also be a tremendous waste of time, taking up 31 hours of your work time per month on average.
That's why we tend to daydream, do other work, or even fall asleep during meetings. They're a necessary evil—and we're not even sure they're necessary in the first place.
Instead, meetings should be an effective use of everyone's time, that one chance you have to push the agenda forward and make sure everyone has what they need to do their best work. That requires meetings that fit everyone's schedules, are well planned, and include actionable minutes so the meeting isn't forgotten as soon as it's finished.
These tools will help turn your meetings into productive sessions, ones that take up less time and get more accomplished.
Sharing information with meeting attendees
$10/mo. per user
$12/mo. per organizer
Free; from $3/mo./user
Planning meetings on your own
Free; from $9.95/mo.
Free; from $9/mo.
Preparing for meetings on-the-go
A visualized agenda timeframe
Easy meeting prep
Free; from $27/mo.
Advanced meeting agendas
Free; from $19/mo.
Calculating a meeting's ROI
Personal meeting insights
Planning a productive meeting
Keeping discussions focused
All-in-One Meeting Apps
You need a calendar app for scheduling the meeting. A time-zone tool to find a time that works for everyone. A notes app to plan the meeting—and another app to take notes during the meeting.
Or, you could do it all in one app. These tools help you plan, schedule, and share meeting info from one place, so nothing gets lost along the way.
Best for scheduling meetings
For a one-stop shop for scheduling meetings along with communicating, taking notes, and managing tasks, take a look at Meetin.gs. It handles every part of the meetings process.
Once you decide you’d like to meet, you’ve got two options. You can set your availability and let others book a slot on your calendar; Meetin.gs integrates with your calendar and contacts in Google Apps, as well as communication tools like Skype and Google Hangouts. This helps you skip the inevitable back-and-forth of finding a time that works for everyone. Alternatively, you can invite people to a date and time you’ve selected.
Each meeting comes with a shared workspace. Add topics for discussion, upload relevant files, and share your notes. Changes are saved instantly, so you can also use this workspace during the meeting to record your discussion and discussions.
After the meeting is over, Meetin.gs will automatically send an email to the participants summarizing any action items you created.
Price: $12/month per organizer Pro plan for unlimited meetings and participants
Agenda Planning Apps
Perhaps you already have tools to schedule your meetings, and just need a way to keep the discussion on track and record what's discussed. These tools will help you plan your meeting agenda, notes, and more.
Minute (Web, iOS, Android, Windows)
Best for easy-to-read agendas
Minute delivers everything you need to know and remember about a meeting on a single page.
The meeting agenda—which can be created independently by the meeting organizer or collaboratively by the team—is at the top. If the agenda changes during the meeting, simply drag and drop each item into the new order.
Each topic of discussion comes with an optional timer, making it easier to get through everything you need to without running over.
Underneath the agenda, you’ll see the meeting’s attachments, including documents from from Google Drive and Dropbox or notes from Evernote. Attendees can write real-time notes under those files, create tasks and assign owners and deadlines, and add decisions. You can also add private notes, which no one else will be able to view.
When the meeting has ended, you can export the topics, notes, decisions, tasks, and documents to your Google Drive, Dropbox, or Evernote accounts, or email them to meeting attendees for future reference.
Price: Free for 1 month of meeting history; from $3/month per user Light plan for 3 months of meeting history and attachments
Best for planning meetings on your own
If you’re more interested in prepping and taking good notes than sending material to other attendees, Solid is a good option. This elegant app connects to your Google Calendar or Office 365 account to show you what’s on your calendar for the next week.
Every meeting gets its own blank "Notes" page. You can add action items, decisions, or "open issues." Create an order for your meeting by grouping related items under sections. If you’d like to attach a file, Solid lets you embed it along with your notes.
To help keep you on track, the app tells you how much time is left in the meeting and how many topics you still need to address. Once the meeting is over, Solid sends you an in-depth summary of your notes. You can also share this summary with others via email, Evernote, Slack, or (using Zapier) Google Docs.
Then, check your unfinished tasks from every meeting with the "action items" tab in Solid. You'll also find a detailed analysis in Solid about how much total time you’re spending in meetings, when they’re taking place, who you’re meeting with, and so on.
See Solid integrations on Zapier
MeetingKing (Web, iOS)
Best for one-off meetings
Tools that require every participant to have an account can be inconvenient, especially when you’re working with people outside your company or having frequent one-off meetings. Enter: MeetingKing. It lets you send agendas by email, so you’re the only one who needs to be a user.
Organizers can use MeetingKing’s agenda templates or create their own. No need to fill out time, length, attendees, location, or other logistical information—that info is pulled in automatically from your connected Google Calendar, iCal, or Outlook account.
Agendas are organized into topics. During the meeting, you flesh out each topic by adding short bullets, which you can save as tasks, decisions, or notes. For instance, if your first topic is "monthly paid search budget," and Sarah tells the group about November’s results, you might add a note for
November ROAS: 200%. If you decide to increase the budget, you’d save
Double budget as a decision.
Every task you create can have an owner. When someone is assigned a task, they’ll get an email—and a follow-up email if they don’t finish it before the due date. It’s also possible to add and comment on tasks from your email inbox.
MeetingKing’s parking lot feature helps you avoid runaway discussions. Each time someone brings up a topic that’s not on the agenda, you create an item for it in the "parking lot." Don't discuss that topic now—instead, next time you’re making a meeting agenda, check the parking lot for topics you need to include.
Price: Free for attendees; from $9.95/month Pro Single plan for 1 organizer
Best for effective note-taking
It’s tough to take notes and stay engaged at the same time. Usually, you end up talking or typing, not both. Minutes.io solves that with an actionable agenda.
With the app’s clean, easy-to-read template, you can quickly create agenda items and add in your notes. Every item can be categorized as "agenda," "decision, "done," "todo," or "idea," and given an owner and deadline. To quickly move around and make changes, use Minute.io’s hotkeys.
Once the meeting has wrapped up, email a copy to each of the attendees. Holding a similar meeting? Copy your agenda so you can reuse it.
Because Minutes.io works offline, it’s a good choice for meetings on the go.
Price: Free; from $9/month Monthly plan for custom branding and faster support
Agenda Maker (iOS)
Best for preparing for meetings on-the-go
Imagine that you’re walking down the street or sitting on the subway, when you suddenly realize you’ve got a meeting coming up with no agenda. Agenda Maker is made for those moments. As the name suggests, it has just one function: Making agendas. Simply start a fresh one, type out your agenda items, drag and drop them into order, and if you’d like, add notes and allocate time to specific items.
Agenda Maker's best feature is automatically calculating and allocating time for your meetings based on the items you drag and drop in your agenda. You can also create multi-day agendas, create sub-agenda items, and set default times for agenda items.
Sharing your agenda is also straightforward. Email it to people, send them a PDF version, or print a copy before your meeting.
Price: $1.99 on the App Store; $0.99 in-app purchase to add meeting attendees and minutes
Less Meeting (Web, iOS)
Best for a visualized agenda timeframe
Less Meeting encourages you to have productive meetings by visualizing your meeting time. Here’s how it works:
Before the meeting, the organizer sets an overall time limit, along with set times for each item on the agenda. During the meeting, a countdown timer at the bottom of the agenda shows how many minutes you have left. It’ll turn yellow when there’s five minutes on the clock. If you go over, it’ll turn red. Meanwhile, agenda items turn yellow when there’s a minute left of their scheduled time.
You can also add bullet-style notes, documents and images, action items, meeting goals, and links to previous agendas. Or create agendas using the Outlook plugin, or Google Apps and iCal template, and sync your tasks with popular to-do apps. Less Meeting includes keyboard shortcuts to streamline the minutes-taking process.
If you’re on your phone or iPad, you can drag and drop your notes into the order you need. Working in a Wi-Fi-free zone? The app will store your changes and sync them you’re back online.
Price: From $12/month 1 Pack plan for 1 user
Best for easy meeting prep
If it takes too much effort to prepare for a meeting, you probably won’t do it. Luckily, Minute-it can do it for you. Integrate the tool with your Outlook, Google Calendar, or iCal account, and Minute.it will automatically generate agendas for your scheduled meetings. You can then list your discussion topics, allocate time to each item, and upload your materials in minutes.
Once all the attendees have shown up, the agenda’s built-in countdown timer will help you stay focused and on-topic. Participants can add comments, notes, deliverables, decisions, and deadlines to the doc in real time—transforming it from schedule to fully fleshed-out minutes.
Minute-it automatically emails the meeting notes to everyone present. Then, attendees can log into their dashboard and view notes from previous meetings, along with an overview of any outstanding action items.
Price: Free for 1 user; from $27/month Starting-out plan for up to 3 users
Lucid Meeting (Web)
Best for advanced meeting agendas
Client meetings are far different from company meetings, which are far different from board meetings, which are far different from investor meetings. If you’re running lots of different types of meetings, you need a tool that can handle them all.
Lucid Meetings is an all-in-one app for every meeting under the sun.
Thanks to its large collection of templates, you can quickly whip up a professional-looking template. Keep things basic with topics of discussion and their estimated duration. Or, take things one step further with a smart list, which will dynamically update to include any notes or action items you created in previous meetings.
If you want others to add to your agenda, you can give them editing privileges. You can also assign a "read-only" view.
Everyone can add notes while the meeting is live. But you won’t see the entire agenda at once—to keep people focused, the app zooms into the current topic of discussion. It also give you a signal when you’re almost out of time and when you need to move on.
Deciding anything as a group? Create a motion. You can make voting public or anonymous, which is useful when you’re discussing sensitive topics.
To help you gauge how well meetings are going and where you can improve, Lucid Meetings sends a quick follow-up survey to each attendee after the meeting, along with the meeting notes and a summary of their action items.
Price: Free for personal use; from $19/month plan for 1 organizer
Apps for More Productive Meetings
Maybe you don't need a tool to schedule your meetings or keep your talks on track. You might just need a tool that reminds you of the time spent in meetings, and helps you find ways to get more value out of that time. These handy tools do just that.
Meeting Ticker (Web)
Best for calculating a meeting’s ROI
Next time you’re questioning whether or not to hold a meeting, try Meeting Ticker. After you plug in how many people will be attending, the average hourly rate, and the estimated meeting length, this nifty tool will tell you how much the meeting is costing you. Watch as the meter rapidly adds up until you click "Stop the bleeding."
It’s far from an exact science. But when you’re on the fence about a meeting, seeing its dollar value might be helpful.
Meeting Calculator (Web)
Best for personal meeting insights
To get a snapshot of your meeting habits, connect Meeting Calculator to your Google Calendar account. In a few seconds, it pulls in data from every event that had two or more attendees and a start and end time from the last year. It'll then crunch the numbers and give you interesting stats on how many hours you spent in meetings, their average length, the percentage of meetings you’re creating versus being invited to, and more.
The app was built by the developers behind team productivity tool Jell, which can also help eliminate unnecessary meetings.
Team Meeting Checklist (Web)
Best for planning a productive meeting
The Team Meeting Checklist was created to make the collaboration process go more smoothly.
It lays out the 25 essential conditions of a good meeting, starting with the prep work ("meeting location is set," "clearly defined objective is set," etc.). There are several items for the meeting itself, like "one topic will be discussed at one time," and "everyone will leave the room knowing what’s happening next." Finally, the checklist covers what will happen after the meeting, including "participants will receive a follow-up within 24 hours" and "unfinished business will be put on the next agenda."
Having a clear, easy-to-follow outline is helpful for the organizer—but the checklist is even more helpful for setting expectations for attendees. Once you’ve checked the requirements that apply to your meeting, you can email the list to your participants.
Related: This checklist comes to us from our friends at Weekdone. See how you can automate Weekdone tasks with Zapier.
Team Meeting Timer (Web, Android)
Best for keeping discussions focused
Need a no-fuss way to end your meetings on time? Open Team Meeting Timer, set the length, and watch the countdown start. When time runs out, end your meeting.
You could use any timer for this, but since the Team Meeting Timer is boldly visual, it’s perfect for leaving up on a screen in your conference room or video call, where everyone can see it. The app also provides prompts to help you get the meeting moving along, such as "Sum up key discussions" when the end time is getting close.
Not everyone's a fan of meetings, but they can be productive--especially when you've got tools to streamline meetings and keep everyone focused on the agenda.
But before you can run a productive meeting, you need to get it on everyone’s calendars. Check out the 16 best meeting scheduler apps to figure out the best meeting time for everyone. And if you're working with remote team members, or trying to schedule meetings across time zones, learn how to run a remote team meeting to make your next meeting more effective.
Learn how execs at LinkedIn, Amazon, Asana, and other top firms make their meetings more effective to help make the most of your own meetings.
Updated June 22, 2017 to remove the now-defunct Do.com.