The Difference Between Formal and Informal Meetings

A formal meeting is an organised discussion of specific goals and topics typically led by the chairperson. The minutes are kept in this document. These meetings are very well-organized with a lot of planning, and assigning different people specific roles to ensure that the meeting stays on to track.

The majority of business meetings held every day fall into the informal category such as staff meetings and brainstorming sessions. However, more strategic discussions of high-stakes matters like company strategy, budget cuts and management of projects are typically held at formal meetings. The major distinction between formal and informal meetings is that the latter tends to be more informal with a more fluid conversation.

Formal meetings also typically follow strict protocols including an agenda and a standardized structure for notes taken by the person taking notes. The information is accessible by those who aren’t present at the meeting.

For a successful session it is crucial that participants have access to the information and reports they need. Meeting software and a meeting task manager can be used to remind attendees of and/or tasks. This will allow them to prepare for the next step of the process. After the meeting has ended, it’s important to follow up with participants to summarize what was discussed, highlight the most important actions and solicit feedback so that subsequent meetings are more effective.