A meeting agenda is provided to meeting attendees in advance. It contains key discussion points, acts as a time management tool, and defines meeting expectations. Discussion topics, important information, and action items are among the things that should be included in an agenda.
Agendas are crucial to ensure meetings run efficiently. An unplanned meeting can lead to wasted time. An agenda can avoid that. It ensures that participants are informed about the meeting and can prepare in advance to make a meaningful contribution.
The Magic of a Meeting Agenda
You might not believe it, but more than 50% of meetings happen without a predetermined agenda. Yet their benefits are obvious.
An effective meeting agenda can:
- maintain the attention of the participants;
- reduce meeting time;
- prepare the exchanges;
- stimulate participation;
- prioritize the most significant topics;
- write down the next steps, so participants can take action.
An agenda is basically the roadmap for your meeting. It sets the program and the course of the exchanges, describes the main objectives or priorities, draws up the list of speakers and distributes the subjects of discussion if necessary.
By planning your meeting agenda and sending it out to all attendees ahead of time, you allow everyone to arrive prepared and engaged. If the discussion strays off-topic, an effective meeting agenda helps redirect the conversation so everyone stays focused on the goal.
What Does an Effective Meeting Agenda Look Like?
Your agenda should include the following basic information:
- the date, time and place of the meeting;
- a list of expected participants;
- the objectives of the meeting;
- topics or questions to be covered;
- the time allotted for each discussion topic;
- any notes, documentation or conclusions from previous meetings;
- preparation tasks or instructions for attendees before the meeting.
You can also include a brief casual conversation or recreational activity to kick off the meeting. These moments are particularly useful when participants come from different teams and do not meet often, or during virtual meetings where this type of exchange needs a boost.
This information is the cornerstone of a productive meeting and helps lay the foundation for effective communication.
How to Write a Meeting Agenda
Crafting an effective meeting agenda takes time and careful planning. Don’t wait until the last minute to get started.
To get the most out of your meetings – and your agendas – follow these steps.
Collaborate With the Meeting Initiator to Align Goals and Objectives
Before setting an agenda, you need to clearly determine the purpose of the meeting. Understanding its objectives will allow you to determine the topics to discuss and how to structure your meeting.
But don’t go it alone. Ask for input from the initiator of the meeting: this is usually the person (or group) who requested this meeting or identified the need for it. In a meeting involving the entire department, the initiator is likely a senior manager. As part of a daily team meeting, the whole team is the initiator.
Work with the initiator to identify the main objectives of the meeting. If the complete team is concerned, ask each collaborator to participate so that everyone is in phase.
Target Topics That Have an Impact an ahe Full Group
Make the most of your time by focusing on topics that involve everyone in the meeting. In other words, your agenda should be limited to issues relevant to the full group. Otherwise, your employeesHierarchy of board members, their roles and responsibilities
will lose interest in the discussions, and you will have difficulty involving them in future meetings.
If you need to discuss other topics that only concern certain participants, you can structure the discussions so that the rest of the group can withdraw and return to their posts, or save these questions for another meeting.
Indicate the Purpose of Each Topic
Clarify the purpose of the meeting and each topic of discussion. This will help team members understand their role and participate more effectively.