Developing a meeting agenda is the first step in conducting a productive meeting. By creating an agenda you’ll be able to better control the flow of the meeting, increase overall efficiency, and provide documentation of the meeting’s outcome. Sending out a meeting agenda in advance is not only beneficial for you, the host, but for your participants as well. Guests will have a better understanding of the meeting’s purpose and will have time to prepare and put thought into the topics proposed for discussion.
To write an effective meeting agenda, check out the steps outlined below:
- Plan ahead and seek input: Before you even begin writing, determine one to three main goals you’d like to accomplish in the meeting and use them as your guide. It’s also good practice to seek out input from team members that will be attending.
- Choose your topics wisely: Build your objectives from the group’s feedback, and discuss issues or topics that will affect the whole team—and that need the whole team’s input to solve. Consider presenting your topics as questions instead of phrases; this way participants won’t be left wondering what you’re going to be covering and will be able to better prepare for the discussion. For example, instead of “marketing budget” as a topic, it should read something like, “What areas, if any, can we cut from our marketing budget?”
- Timing: Give yourself enough time for the meeting, but try to make it as simple as possible. Calculate how much time the team will need for each topic. This includes introducing the topic, answering questions, generating discussions and agreeing upon action plans. As a rule of thumb, it’s better to overestimate the time needed to cover each topic effectively.
- Outline: Take your key objectives and place them into an outline format. The topics being covered will determine how detailed you will need to be on your outline. As stated before, introducing the topic as a question is best practice. Following the topic, create one to two bullet points to flesh out the topic further if needed. Under the topic, also identify what team member will be taking the lead on the discussion.
- Seek approval: Finally, once your agenda meeting outline is complete, pass it around to all those attending. Seek out their approval and accept amendments—regardless if you and your team have jointly created the agenda. By checking the agenda one last time before you join the meeting, you’ll increase the chance of your team utilizing the time allotted more effectively.
Remember: a well-written agenda defines your meeting. If you follow these tips, you can develop easy-to-follow meeting agendas that help you and your team stay focused and productive in all of your meetings.
For more meeting-prepping tips, read Timeline of a Meeting: The Before or check out 10 Meeting Hacks that Transform ‘Meet’ Into a Powerful 4-Letter Word.