How to Write a Successful Meeting Agenda
Do you prepare an agenda for every meeting you lead? Do the meetings you attend typically have an agenda? What’s so special about agendas anyway?
A meeting agenda is not a calendar invite.
Contrary to what many calendar systems would have us believe, a meeting agenda is more than a calendar invite with a list of topics to cover. An effective agenda is the map that guides the meeting even before it starts. It helps determine who should attend, informs participants how to prepare, and supplies criteria to evaluate the meeting’s success. Here are some key elements of a meeting agenda that can lead to a productive meeting conversation.
The desired outcome. A statement that indicates what you will have achieved by the end of the meeting.
Topics/activities. A list of what you will talk about and activities to do during the meeting.
Prework. Instructions for what people should do to prepare for the meeting, and the accompanying materials.
Norms. A list of ground rules that inform how people should act during the meeting.
Roles. Assignments for who will do what during the meeting.
Including these elements in an agenda will shorten meeting times, focus the conversation, and improve participant preparedness.
How to craft an effective meeting agenda.
Below you will find examples of how these elements play out in real life meetings. We offer best practice examples and their less productive (but more common) counterparts.
Start with the end in mind. Define the specific results you want to achieve in the meeting to set the stage for focused discussion.
Include topics of discussion, activities, and the decisions to be made. Make sure meeting agenda items relate to the desired outcomes.
Assign work that aligns all participants and reduces time needed for presentation and explanation of the material.
Establish ground rules based on the type of discussion. Add context-specific norms to set participants’ expectations and facilitate effective participation.
Assign appropriate roles to the participants to help manage the process of the meeting. Rotate roles among team members if appropriate.
This sounds great. But how much time does it take?
Creating a comprehensive meeting agenda might seem time-consuming at first, but if you look closely, your team is likely wasting time, energy and employee morale in unproductive meetings right now. When you spend 10-15 minutes to outline the desired outcomes, key topics and preparation instructions for each of your meetings and share them ahead of time with participants, you will gain back much more than you’ve spent. When everyone is ready to engage and the meeting roadmap is clear, you will make every meeting matter.
What do your meeting agendas look like? Let us know below or tweet to us at @meeteorHQ!
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