18 Oct 2020

Getting the Most Out of Your Ad-Hoc Meetings

Ad hoc is Latin to mean “concerned with a particular end or purpose.” In the corporate world, ad hoc has been repurposed to refer to impromptu meetings that are scheduled to address a specific problem or issue. These meetings are one-off meetings; not part of a sequence or ongoing topic.

Why schedule an ad-hoc meeting?

Ad-hoc meetings are scheduled if something outside of the norm occurred that cannot wait for the next regular meeting to be resolved. For example, when COVID was growing to a pandemic scale, many companies scheduled ad-hoc meetings to discuss government regulations regarding company work environments.

For a less extreme example, if your colleague was going on a last-minute vacation and needed to transfer their workload to you, they would schedule an ad-hoc meeting to catch you up on their projects.

Making an ad-hoc meeting a success

Come up with an agenda in… minutes?

Some meeting agenda guides recommend for you to create your meeting agenda three days in advance. Well, that’s just not possible with ad-hoc meetings. Even so, if you have time before your ad-hoc meeting, any kind of agenda will help. We prepared a template to make your preparation easier. 

Know your objective

With an ad-hoc meeting, you have little time to make your objective clear; don’t lose sight of it. If an ad-hoc meeting is called, there’s a reason. Make sure all of your agenda planning revolves around and returns to the objective that you’re trying to make clear to the participants.

Focus on the simple details

Ad-hoc meetings are usually scheduled to share an important message. Fast. You don’t have days or weeks to educate the participants in small, memorable doses that don’t overload their memories.

Keep their attention on the simple details; the main takeaways. That’s not to say ignore the finer details, but make sure to dangle the more simple concepts like bate on a fishing line: get the participants hooked before tossing them into the barrel of fish.

Use the right tools

When we think of meeting tools, we think Microsoft Outlook, MS Teams, PowerPoint… but have you considered a meeting room booking system?

When you need to book an ad-hoc meeting, you don’t always have time to plan and prepare. Your favorite meeting rooms might be booked up. Or, the only meeting rooms large enough might be occupied at the same time.

A meeting room booking system can help you figure out which rooms are free. Joan enables employees to book meeting rooms and desks on-the-fly, showing you which rooms are available when you need them. You can even see each room’s capacity, making sure you book a space large enough for your meeting.

Be aware of your time

This is perhaps the trickiest part of an ad-hoc meeting. For most meetings, you have more than minutes or hours to prepare. Usually, you have time to figure out how long each of your points or topics will take to present.

You don’t have such leisure with ad-hoc meetings. Therefore, once you jot your ideas down, estimate how long each point will take so you don’t run out of time.

Keep the meeting concise

Keep in mind, the more concise you are, the more your audience will remember what you say. Even if your topic is complex, it’s in your best interest to make the delivery as to-the-point as possible.

Be Flexible

Last-minute meetings will never be as ironed out as you’d like. Make sure you’re flexible and won’t be thrown off if something doesn’t go as planned. If the best meeting rooms are booked, be prepared to host the meeting in your lunchroom, lounge, hallway…

If your objective changes or shifts last minute, possibly due to new information, be prepared to deviate from your agenda.

Outline deliverables

If you’re hosting an ad-hoc meeting, chances are you have some tasks to dole out. Make sure they’re clear in the meeting.

Follow up

It’s always good practice to send out a summary email complete with the meeting objective and any action items discussed. Alternatively, schedule a follow-up meeting within the next day or so, especially if any deliverables were assigned during the first meeting.

Remote ad-hoc meetings

Remote meetings are a new concept for some companies. COVID-19 has fast-tracked our adoption of new ways to meet, collaborate, and be productive from home.

Joan Home is a multi-functional device to let your family members or roommates know when you’re in a meeting or not. The device syncs to your work calendar, helping those urgent, unexpected ad-hoc meetings be as interruption-free as possible.


It’s difficult to prepare for an ad-hoc meeting. Aside from panicking the day-of and scratching an agenda together, the only real thing you can do is to have the right technology set up before the meetings even come about. Make sure you have reliable remote conferencing tools, audio and visual recording tools, email software, and room booking systems in place. Our team of workplace experts can help you pick the right tools for you, reach out to them at sales@getjoan.com