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Whether in person or online In person or online, a formal gathering is a gathering of participants brought together to discuss a certain topic. These meetings are usually structured and follow strict rules of order. They also are pre-planned and have clearly defined objectives. To be considered formal meetings, they typically require a notetaker, as well as an agenda. Formal meetings also require precise minutes that are a transcript of the exact information discussed at the meeting and made available to everyone to refer to later.

At these meetings, participants are encouraged to openly share their ideas about the pros and cons of various options and provide their own opinions to arrive at a unanimous decision that is best for the company. In many instances the decisions taken during these meetings result in major actions across the company.

A moderator, or facilitator is typically appointed as a timekeeper, to keep the formal meeting on the right track. They also ensure that everyone stays focused on the issue at hand. It’s important to establish a consensus at the beginning of the meeting how the discussion will take place. If the participants will be speaking in turns, it is recommended to agree on conventions like setting up a timer and/or a clock to ensure everyone stays on track. It’s also helpful to provide a summary of the meeting, along with any deadlines that are important, or the next steps.