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Jan 30, 2024

Ad Hoc Meeting: What is it?

Have you ever wondered about the role of ad hoc meetings in modern-day business settings? Regular meetings are crucial for both local and international organizations. They allow business teams to maintain two-way communication, share ideas, address consumer needs, and ensure sustainable development that can lead to business growth. 

However, modern businesses often find themselves in unexpected situations. When such situations happen, managers and business leaders have no option but to hold unplanned meetings and rely on a business conversation to address the problem and find a solution as quickly as possible. Let’s delve deeper into what ad hoc meetings are, their importance, and more.

What is an ad hoc meeting?

An ad hoc meeting is a one-off, unplanned meeting focusing on specific problems, discussions, topics, or other business-related content. Also called an impromptu gathering, a last-minute meeting allows the business committee to handle a particular situation, current development opportunities, or problems. 

Ad hoc meetings differ from regular meetings because they often don’t offer time for strategizing or planning. Business leaders and team managers usually hold impromptu meetings for specific issues or essential business topics that need instant attention and quick resolution.

When to hold an ad hoc meeting?

Ad hoc meetings are ideal for brainstorming ideas, discussing last-minute updates to an ongoing project, making urgent announcements, etc.

Let’s say you plan to deploy a new service, but something goes wrong. You address the novel situation by holding an unplanned meeting to discuss the best course of action. Most business organizations have regular recurring meetings that happen daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly. 

With that in mind, you should throw an ad hoc gathering when:

  • Something urgent comes up – large international organizations often deal with uncalled situations. When emergencies come up, ad hoc meetings are ideal for addressing things that can’t wait until the next regular gathering and require an instant action or decision.

  • Unplanned situations occur – certain events can impose topics outside your regular business conversations. Since these events require urgent reactions, you can address them with your team in an ad hoc meeting. 

  • You need to discuss a specific topic with people outside your team – ad hoc meetings are perfect for negotiating with people outside your organization, like partners, clients, sales teams, etc.

Ad hoc meetings are also the best solution to addressing different scenarios, such as:

  • Hiring meeting – you gather your team to outline available positions you need to fill.

  • Expert meeting – you outline ongoing problems and discuss potential solutions.

  • Emergency meeting – you discuss the best ways to solve an urgent situation.

  • Information-gathering meeting – you gather questions that need answers.

Aside from addressing your emergency needs, you should also consider what follow-up you should use in your ad hoc meetings. Your follow-up depends on the purpose and result of the impromptu gathering. 

With that in mind, follow-up meetings are ideal for sending a summary email or file with a list of concluded facts and agreed-upon items. If you need to discuss possible outcomes, you can always schedule a follow-up meeting to gather feedback from your team.

Advantages of ad hoc meetings

Impromptu meetings offer quite a few benefits in the workplace. Let’s discuss some of the best advantages. 

Save time

A last-minute meeting (or emergency meeting) may take less time to plan and schedule than a regular workplace gathering. Business owners, leaders, and managers hold ad-hoc meetings to request managers and employees to address business efforts and discuss important issues. 

Impromptu gatherings usually last shorter than regular meetings because they don’t involve a complex meeting agenda. Executives hold these meetings to make quick decisions and manage certain problems without disturbing ongoing workflows. 

Make urgent decisions

Business organizations often encounter situations that require quick thinking and urgent decisions. Due to various external factors and other parameters, investors, customers, decision-makers, and clients might request unexpected meetings. 

These gatherings help officials develop solutions to crises, discuss alternatives, and create strategies for mitigating negative impacts on the company.

Set clear goals

An ad-hoc-style meeting may deal with a singular goal. Officials discuss this objective with decision-makers and other team members during the emergency meeting to update teammates about current developments. 

They can also use various collaboration tools and content-sharing technology to take notes that team members make during the discussion. Impromptu gatherings can be short and asynchronous, as async communication supports virtual team flexibility. 

Compared to synchronous meetings, where every employee must be present at the time of gathering, asynchronous communication helps remote teams discuss topics over any regular interval and at their own pace, without the need to be physically present in the casual meeting space. 

Scheduling subsequent gatherings may help elaborate on objectives and outline essential points that define the responsibilities and roles of every employee in resolving unplanned situations.

Flexibility in choosing locations for ad hoc meetings

Business officials can opt for various locations for ad hoc gatherings. Since these meetings are typically smaller than the regular ones, they usually involve smaller groups of select attendees. 

Because of that, executives have a higher level of flexibility while choosing spaces for meetings. Whether online or offline, they can use digital tools and communication platforms to provide communication guidelines and visual aids during discussions.

How to organize an ad hoc meeting

Here are five ways to organize effective ad hoc meetings and make your efforts fruitful.

Determine the need for the meeting

The easiest way to make your impromptu meetings more effective is to determine the purpose of the gathering. Think about the need for holding the meeting and the problems you want to address. The purpose of the meeting should help you define the expected outcome.

Once you determine the need for the meeting, your objective, and your desired outcome, communicate it to your employees by identifying the participants and inviting them to join. 

Their feedback will help you outline some essential things, including:

  • The best way to communicate the matter to stakeholders (in person, via email, etc.);

  • Whether the issue is time-sensitive;

  • The timeframe for finding the solution; 

  • Whether you can resolve the matter in a daily or weekly meeting.

Identify the participants

The smaller the group, the more effective the discussion and the decision. Consider these things when deciding on the participants:

  • The role of each individual in the meeting;

  • Who provides the most valuable input;

  • Employees with best-suited skills to solve the problem.

Sometimes, specific problems don’t require you to call the entire team. Instead, keeping things among a limited number of people allows you to make the meeting as productive as possible.

Choose the meeting format

The best ad hoc meetings are short, crystal-clear, and on-point. In other words, don’t hold an urgent meeting to discuss ongoing problems, only to turn into a conversation about unrelated topics. 

These meetings exist to help businesses create checklists of urgent issues, address crises, and find solutions to current problems. Therefore, an impromptu meeting should not be your average social loafing per se but a get-down-to-business kind of thing. 

Set the agenda and objectives

Since ad hoc meetings don’t leave you with enough time to develop a comprehensive agenda, you should stick to setting simple objectives you can turn into an actionable plan. For example, you can conduct more effective unplanned gatherings by setting a question-based agenda. 

Instead of writing down discussion points, form questions around them to keep the meeting organized and everyone in the loop. For example, if there’s a problem with lead generation, think about an agenda with the best practices to increase website traffic and conversions.

Send out invitations

Send invitations to your team members to join your ad hoc meeting using digital tools like Zoom or Playbooks. These tools allow you to send invites at any time. 

Your team members can view their contacts, format invitations, and availability using ad hoc calendar invites and other similar features. 

Remember to personalize your meeting invitations using communication platforms and channels your teammates prefer. 

Digital tools provide numerous benefits, such as:

  • Smooth real-time communication – quick and easy communication is critical to effective ad hoc meetings. Opt for digital tools that support wireless content sharing so you can seamlessly send content to participants using voice notes, video messages, etc. 

  • Staying organized – since ad hoc meetings impose a narrow window of time, you need to get ahead of your meeting documentation, action items, and meeting minutes to ensure the gathering runs as efficiently as possible. Digital tools like Ayanza, Asana, and Notion can help you organize your notes, files, and documents.

  • A vast selection of virtual meeting spaces – nowadays, you have tools and technologies to help you build your virtual meeting workspace and keep things organized. Create a meeting space without background noises and distractions to ensure your team stays as organized and effective as possible.

  • Asynchronous communication – allowing your teammates to check out on their own time is an excellent way to streamline meeting organization and make your ad hoc meetings effortless and time-saving.

Tips for conducting a successful ad hoc meeting

Do you need more guidelines on how to turn every ad hoc meeting into a successful gathering? No problem. Here are the top four tips for holding highly productive impromptu meetings.

1. Set clear expectations

Unplanned situations demand swift actions and instant decisions. Since you won’t have the time to prepare yourself properly, you should outline clear meeting expectations. That should help you to determine a mutual objective and work with your team toward accomplishing it.

2. Start and end on time

Unplanned gatherings should be short and on point. Pay attention to time. Try to keep it as short as possible. It would be best to determine some ground rules for starting and ending times to ensure everyone can voice their opinion. Keep track of the clock but ensure you have enough time to address the issues.

3. Stay focused on the objective

Once you gather your teammates around a mutual objective, stay focused on achieving that objective to ensure the best outcome possible. Share the purpose of the gathering with other participants and ensure every attendee has their takeaways clearly noted by the end of the meeting.

4. Encourage participation

Since ad hoc gatherings can be challenging, many of your colleagues might not be thrilled about the idea of attending such meetings. Therefore, you should lead by example. Be confident about what you say and ensure everyone’s voice is heard. Encourage feedback and ask every participant to share their view on the best ways to handle particular issues. Although discussions can get heated, remain calm and professional.

Ad hoc meeting follow-up

Aside from what happens in your ad hoc meetings, the steps that follow up after meetings are equally important. They help you achieve better outcomes and get more tangible results. An ad hoc meeting follow-up should include the following elements.

  • Meeting recap

Before you end a meeting, pay attention to these items:

  • The summarization of action items and critical takeaways

  • Identifying who will address each activity

  • Establishing deadlines for the completion of each task

  • Collecting feedback from the participants to assess outcomes

A meeting follow-up is critical to assigning tasks, identifying action items, and letting your teammates feel appreciated for their input. 

  • Taking notes

Notes are the very lifeblood of your meeting efforts, whether you know it or not. It would be wise to make everyone responsible for taking notes during the gathering. You can appoint a dedicated staff member to take notes or rotate responsibility between employees. 

Note-taking is essential because it allows individual employees to understand their roles, responsibilities, and expectations. It also allows all participants to record the meeting, recap the decisions, and determine the time window for producing the desired outcomes. Thankfully, you have an extensive range of top-grade AI note takers to help you streamline notetaking anywhere, anytime.

Note-taking should include the following elements:

  • Date and meeting location

  • Name of attendees

  • Essential discussion items

  • Made decisions

  • Teammates responsible for follow-up actions

  • Deadlines

  • Action plan

There’s no strategy without a good plan, right? Right! An action plan is one of the critical follow-up tools in your arsenal. It’s a document that outlines a roadmap to help you identify the action items that need immediate attention. 

It also helps your team members stay organized by providing task descriptions, status updates, individual responsibilities, and timelines for completion. Make sure everyone on your team can update the plan regularly to maintain effective communication on their progress.

  • Status updates

Depending on the goal and outcome of your ad hoc meeting, you might:

  • Send a summary email with the essential conclusions, including a list of the most critical action items;

  • Schedule a follow-up meeting to gather feedback, discuss potential solutions, and share opinions;

  • Check on your teammates from time to time about the status of their tasks. Some of them may need a bit of a push toward completing an action item.

Here’s an excellent example of a follow-up.

You’re planning a big celebration for the company’s first anniversary. Since that is a one-time event, you’ve selected the participants to help you organize the party. 

After the event, you might hold a follow-up meeting to share impressions and compliments that teammates, clients, and partners expressed during the party. You can use the follow-up meeting to thank everyone for participating and gather feedback.

Real-life examples of successful ad hoc meetings

Let’s explore some of the most prevalent real-life examples of successful ad hoc meetings.

An ad hoc meeting to discuss a roster change

You’re about to throw your company’s annual virtual conference, but you’ve encountered a problem – one of the crucial participants can’t come. Now, you need to find a replacement within a narrow time window. So, you call an ad hoc meeting to weigh options and discuss how to mitigate the newly developed situation.

An ad hoc meeting to resolve an urgent client issue

A client just called and reported a problem with their website design. Since that requires an immediate reaction, you hold an ad hoc meeting to discuss how to come up with an instant solution to solve the client’s problem without disturbing your current workflows.

An ad hoc meeting to discuss a global issue

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many business organizations were forced to cut down their expenses and put their plans for the immediate future on hold. They held ad-hoc meetings to discuss the newest events in their industries, newly developed work environments, and the government regulations that directly impacted their respective business landscapes.

An ad hoc meeting to rearrange the workload

Let’s imagine for a second that your colleague decided to take a last-minute vacation. Naturally, some of their workloads must pass to other teammates. So, you schedule an ad hoc meeting to determine how to catch up on their projects and handle all the work without disturbances.

An ad hoc meeting to discuss an urgent client request

Your company deals with social media advertising campaigns. All of a sudden, you receive a last-minute call from a client saying they want to make urgent changes to their Facebook banners. So, you call an ad hoc meeting to address this urgent request.

How is Ayanza helpful with ad hoc meetings?

Ayanza is an AI project management tool that can help you make your ad hoc meetings more effective by keeping you organized. The incredibly user-friendly Ayanza collaborative platform allows you to expedite meeting preparation, share important updates, create a practical meeting agenda, and encourage collaboration with real-time access to data and an AI-powered virtual assistant. 

Ayanza allows you to use the power of AI to improve performance and team collaboration by outlining ideas, letting your AI assistant write meeting plans for you, and obtaining data on specific topics on demand. 

More importantly, Ayanza AI knowledge management system allows you to access your data from anywhere, create any content you need, capture your thoughts, and develop an easily shareable and always accessible database. You can keep your team organized by establishing a virtual meeting space where you can share all the relevant intel for brainstorming instant solutions to ad hoc situations. 

However, that’s not the end, no sir; Ayanza can do so much more for you. It enables you to unlock cross-collaboration by bringing all your tasks under a single platform. Ayanza can help you unify all your team tasks and assign universal access to the participants of your ad hoc meetings. 

Arrange your tasks by priority, keep things organized across databases, and address every urgent situation according to your needs and goals.

In addition, the Ayazna Rhythms feature is the ultimate solution for accomplishing complete alignment with your team goals and company mission. 

This functionality allows you to maintain communication with meeting participants, ask the right questions at the right time, set daily and weekly objectives, monitor your progress and status, share updates with your teammates, and so much more. 

Finally, Ayanza gives you an unprecedented overview of your team. You can monitor what each team member works on, set priorities, ask them to state their ideas, and bring opinions to all the teammates through a dedicated meeting space. 

Ayanza is among the leading digital platforms for planning, organizing, and holding ad hoc meetings. Thanks to the brand’s advanced collaboration features, you can handle all your ad hoc meeting needs from a single platform. 

Ayanza also lets you gather employee and client feedback, monitor team productivity, track task status, and handle every communication need. Start collaborating with your team today and solve problems on the go without sacrificing the quality of your service.


What are the best tools for successful ad hoc meetings?

Using the right tools can help you save your planning and follow-up time. You can use tools like Google Calendar or any other online calendar planner for scheduling the meeting. 

Most digital schedulers and planners are available on both app and web stores and provide functionalities for keeping in-house, remote, and hybrid teams up to date across mobile and web communication channels. 

Consider using tools like Google Meet, Ayanza, or Zoom for conducting the meeting. Finally, you’ll also need a file-sharing tool like Google Drive, Ayanza, or Dropbox.

How can I encourage participation in an ad hoc meeting?

Although there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, you can encourage collaboration and participation in ad hoc meetings by following these tips:

  • Create and distribute a comprehensive agenda with clear objectives;

  • Determine the need for the meeting;

  • Determine the  purpose of each gathering;

  • Ask meeting participants for feedback, their opinion, suggestions, and what have you;

  • Assign each participant with clear objectives and set expectations;

  • Focus every meeting around clear goals.

How do you take notes during an ad hoc meeting?

The easiest way to take notes during an ad hoc meeting is to use a note-taking tool or app.

For example, collaboration platforms like Ayanza have note-taking features that allow you to share meeting updates and create shared strategies.

They help you stay focused on critical tasks, collaborate with your team, record your progress, and share your status with your team.