Going to a meeting without agenda is like starting a project with no milestones.
It is always a good idea to prepare agendas for meetings. This is because meetings with agendas are efficient, effective, and goal-oriented. Plus, planned meetings promote employee engagement and participation.
In this article, we will discuss the importance and components of the meeting agenda. For your ease, we have also included templates for different types of meetings.
Let’s first begin with getting clarity on what a meeting agenda is.
What Is a Meeting Agenda?
A meeting agenda includes topics, action items, talking points, and activities that you would want to discuss during a meeting. Furthermore, it outlines the objectives, owner of each item and specifies the duration for every talking point.
This information must be given to the participants beforehand so that participants are on the same page and can maximize the output from any meeting.
The Importance of an Effective Meeting Agenda
When people attend a meeting, they expect it to be well-planned, organized, and productive. They expect to have meaningful conversations otherwise the meeting could have been an email instead.
It is highly recommended to have a meeting agenda if you want our meeting to be productive. Let’s go over some of the reasons for doing so.
Gives the Meeting a Clear Purpose
Clear meeting agenda sets clear objectives that drive productivity. So whether it’s a formal or a stand-up meeting, having a clearly defined agenda is vital.
Employees and coworkers attending the meeting can come prepared with their questions and discussion points. Moreover, giving the meeting a clear purpose eliminates confusion and saves time.
Empowers Everyone to Contribute
As mentioned earlier, when the meeting agenda is known to all the participants, they know exactly what to expect during the meeting. They can prepare questions and think of ideas and solutions before showing up. This results in a productive meeting and a clear outcome.
Allows You to Stay on Track
Without an agenda in place, a meeting can be a little all over the place. If you want to ensure that objectives are met and no time is wasted, you must develop a meeting agenda way ahead of time. without an agenda, participants get distracted and nothing fruitful is achieved by the end. Consequently, a new meeting has to be set which can lead to burnout and less productivity.
Creates a Single Source of Truth for Decisions
Attending a meeting without agenda has several disadvantages. One of them is that it leaves you blank where you’re not able to recall what was discussed in the meeting.
On the contrary, a meeting with an agenda always remains in the memory. even if you’re not able to remember everything. You can always refer to the minute of the meetings and meeting notes to get a refresher.
Clarifies Expectations and Responsibilities
In addition to helping you make decisions, a meeting agenda also sets expectations and responsibilities before, during, and after the meeting. With a clear agenda, people automatically get clarity on the goals, discussion topics, and individual accountability.
Who Owns the Agenda?
Now that you know why is it so crucial to set a meeting agenda, the next question is who creates one?
Generally, it is the responsibility of the meeting organizer to set the agenda of the meeting. but, it is important to note that apart from the organizer, all other participants can add discussion points and action items to the agenda.
If only the manager is adding points to the agenda, then only the manager will be the one speaking during the meeting. And you wouldn’t want that. A meeting should be a meaningful conversation among participants. The idea is to have everyone speak, participate and share their ideas and view as well. Otherwise, the meeting will turn into a lecture; which nobody wants.
Pro Tip: Assign specific owners to each section of the meeting to ensure maximum participation.
Types of Meeting Agenda Items
Meeting agenda topics mostly fall into three categories:
Informational: This usually includes an update or a presentation.
Discussion Topics: A dialogue or a discussion among the participant to reach a certain conclusion.
Action items: This mostly focuses on an update and discussion on the progress of a certain task.
Pro tip: Avoid spending too much time on informational items. Sometimes too many updates and long presentations can be very boring for the participants. It is better to share presentations beforehand and ask the attendees to look through them before coming to the meeting.
If you want to make a meeting informative and productive, it is better to hold discussions so that everyone can participate and give their input.
What to Include in the Meeting Agenda?
If you’re the organizer of the meeting, then the items listed below are a must-have:
- Welcome and introductions
- Agenda overview
- Status updates
- Questions and answers
- Action items
How comprehensive do you want each of these components to depend on the type of meeting you’re hosting but the agenda should always cover these elements.
Pro Tip: Include supporting documents links and graphics in the meeting agenda so that people have enough time to review and prepare their thoughts and questions.
How to Create a Simple Agenda?
The meeting agenda should always be simple. It answers two questions for all the participants:
- Why am I attending the meeting?
- What am I supposed to do in the meeting?
There are three tips that you can follow:
State the Purpose of the Meeting
If the meeting’s title doesn’t demonstrate the agenda with charity, then mention it on the top of the agenda.
Avoid writing: Price-setting discussion
Instead, write: Discuss pricing strategy
When developing action items, use verbs not nouns.
Avoid writing: Hiring 2021
Instead, write: Determine a strategy and time frame for hiring 2021
Add Bullet Points
Writing in bullets eliminates confusion and is easy to understand. Write agendas in bullets instead of paragraphs. With bullets, you can lit out areas of discussions and updates.
Avoid writing: Sales, Marketing, HR
Meeting Agenda Examples
Now that you have sufficient information on the meeting agenda, let’s figure out how you can customize an agenda according to the nature and type of meeting. Listed below are a few types of meetings that we will take into consideration. For each of these, we will define the agenda and a template.
Weekly Team Meeting Agenda
- Goals and KIPs
- Action items
Pro Tip: For each of the activities above, you can set a time duration as well to keep the meeting on point and avoid distractions.
Leadership Team Meeting Agenda
- Rock review
- Customer / Employee headlines
- To-do list
- Identify, Discuss, Solve
Townhall Meeting Agenda
- Celebrations / Good news
- Announcements and FYIs
One-On-One Meeting Agenda
- What’s top of mind?
- Things that went well
- Priorities since we last met
- Priorities until we meet again
- Challenges / Roadblocks
How to Host Effective Meetings?
A series of steps given below will help you improve the quality of the meetings you hold. Let’ have a look:
Define the Meeting Goal
Defining the goal of the meeting is crucial to get the best out of it. Set the goal collaboratively with your team so that only the most important items are included in the agenda.
It is even better to mention the goal on the calendar invite so that people are aware of what’s going to happen, can come prepared with their questions, and engage in discussions.
Prepare and Reuse a Meeting Template
As discussed, agenda templates keep you organized and on track. So in order to be effective, create a meeting template and refer to it every time you step into a meeting. This way you will know what to focus on and not deviate from the agenda at hand.
Meeting templates come in very handy when you want to refer back to the notes or share them with colleagues.
Keep an option to opt-out of the meeting
Sharing an agenda beforehand allows the attendees to look at each item carefully and decide if they have anything to contribute.
If for instance, someone has nothing to contribute or doesn’t concern them, they should have the flexibility of not attending the meeting. This way only the most concerned people will attend the meeting which will keep it to the point and productive.
Form an Inclusive Environment
An inclusive environment should not only be fostered in the culture but also in the meeting. Most of the time, talkative employees contribute the most in meetings.
The quieter employees, although full of creative solutions and ideas, stay at the back end and rarely participate. To make your meetings more fruitful, encourage the quieter ones to make their notes beforehand and share them first thing when the meeting begins.
Consequently, there will be an influx of unique solutions and ideas that may be the team was previously devoid of.
Keep Everyone Involved and Invested in the Meeting
The best way to keep all the attendees involved in a meeting is to assign the duty of timekeeping and note-taking to everyone once in a while. This will keep the employee engaged and give them the opportunity to learn to adapt to new roles.
Set Priorities and Goals for Next Week
This is a great way to finish off a meeting. It leaves participants with a thought and an action item for the next meeting. This also excites employees fr the next meeting as they have something to look forward to.
If you don’t do this, participants are going to leave with an empty mind and will most likely forget all the discussions they had in the meeting.
Setting priorities and goals for the next meeting is also a great way to speed up the progress of a certain take or project.
Seek Feedback on How to Improve Meetings
Giving, receiving, and implementing feedback should be in the DNA of any culture and meetings can be the starting point for the teams.
Ask your employees or participants if they find the meetings valuable. You can ask them the following questions:
- Should the meetings be shorter?
- Are you okay with the frequency of the meetings?
- Is there anything that can be added or eliminated to make the experience even better?
Ensure that you ask these questions to the virtual participants too; given the hybrid workplace model that many companies have adopted.
Minutes of the Meeting
After setting the agenda and attending the meeting, you have to create an official summary of what happened during the meeting. The summary serves as a record that you can visit later as well.
Minutes of the meeting serves the following purpose:
- Serve as an outline
- Used as a written record for those unable to attend
- Used for future reference
When minutes of the meeting are written well, they serve as a great tool for communication for the organization.
What to Include in the Minutes of the Meeting?
- Title of the meeting
- Date, time, and venue of the meeting
- People who are present and those recording the minutes
- Meeting’s agenda
- Decisions made and by whom
- Motions and vote counts if applicable
Summing It All Up
Now that you know the importance of setting a meeting agenda, you should make it a point to include it in your meetings. Also, encourage managers from other departments to adopt this as it will only lead to greater efficiency and effectiveness.
Either choose the template from the options above or create your own. The choice is yours to make.