Writing an effective meeting agenda in a meeting invite is like having a full-proof plan to get maximum out of the discussion. However, it doesn’t mean, you start building a big listing of items for the recipients. A meeting agenda should highlight the expected outcome of the meeting and expectations from the audience. In this article, you will know about writing an effective meeting agenda in no time.
Writing a meeting agenda shouldn’t be hard work for the meeting organizer but still, I see many people taking a lot of time writing the same. Even though it is totally up to the organizer to decide the structure of the meeting agenda, but unless it is written smartly, it has no meaning.
A little bit of time spent on the meeting preparation can help you to drive the meeting effectively and keep you on the right track. Let’s know how to do that;
- What is the meeting agenda?
- Common complaints about the meetings
- Writing an effective meeting agenda
- Meeting Agenda Template
What is the meeting agenda?
A meeting agenda is a list of activities or tasks that are supposed to be discussed or concluded during the meeting. This explains the purpose of the meeting to the recipients and the desired outcome from the meeting.
It is a best practice to share the meeting agenda before the meeting if can’t be sent in the meeting invite. However, it is not necessary to send the agenda but it is expected to prepare and share one as a professional courtesy. You may find many recipients declining or not attending the meeting if they don’t see the meeting agenda.
You will come to know its importance and benefits in this article.
Common complaints about the meetings
Just like every other thing, there are many reasons why it is a must for meeting organizers to allocate some time in drafting a clear agenda. Let’s go through some of the common complaints about the meetings that can be solved simply by including an effective agenda in the invite.
1. Poorly structured meeting
One of the biggest complaints about the meeting is that the meeting was poorly constructed. They don’t know about the subject of the meeting and the reasons to attend the meeting.
2. Too long meeting
Meetings running over the scheduled timing. This happens when there is no clear direction or a clear point to discuss. If you don’t set a time limit to discuss each item in the meeting, you may find it hard to conclude the meeting within the given time.
3. Meetings going off the topic
Meeting always going off the topic and resulting in no outcome or running late. You also have experienced this situation in many meetings. In the absence of well-writing agenda, a meeting goes nowhere and people simply waste time in the meeting.
4. People aren’t prepared for the meeting
Another complaint people have about the meeting is that people aren’t come prepared for the meeting. Well, you cannot blame the meeting participants if they haven’t received a clear agenda and the expectation from their side.
Nobody wants to join the meeting without any clue and if you share the agenda of the meeting and the expectation from them, they will surely contribute.
5. No outcome after the meeting
Well, I would say, this is the outcome of the poorly structured meeting where people came unprepared and the meeting went off-topic. This is a common challenge that a meeting organizer should always remember while setting up the meeting.
It is hard to finish a meeting with an outcome if there wasn’t any well-structured agenda i.e. topics to be discussed and concluded.
Writing an effective meeting agenda
Now, you know the key challenges of the complaints about the meetings. let’s see, how can we overcome these challenges. I have listed down the following simple steps to draft an effective meeting agenda in 5 minutes.
1. Describe the meeting objective
The meeting audience needs to know the objective of the meeting. You can describe the meeting objective in 2-3 lines and shouldn’t make it in multiple paragraphs. It could be like, “The objective of this meeting to conclude the integration approach between member enrollment and the government authority”.
2. Design the key questions
As I explained, you should be listing down the generic topics that need to be discussed during the meeting. Instead, you should list down the key questions that need to be answered during the meeting.
For example, you should avoid writing “Resource Challenge” instead, you can write, “How to achieve the integration on time withing available resources?”
You might don’t need a meeting if you can’t think of any questions to be answered in a meeting.
A question-and-answer approach makes it is easier for the audience to get prepared before joining the meeting and contribute effectively. However, you shouldn’t be listing the questions to the detailed level and try to keep it a high-level which is critical and cover the majority of the points.
3. Assign priority for each items
While drafting the meeting agenda, you may end up with many items. Therefore, you should set the priority for each question and start with the top priority items. People come with energy in the meeting and it will be easier for you to conclude the important point early if you start with it.
You can use the tabular format to list down each agenda item or questions along with their priority or criticality.
4. Allocate time
Allocating time for each agenda item or question should be done once you have all the questions for meeting and their priority. This will help you in calculating the required time for the meeting and helps you in concluding the meeting within a given time-frame.
It is very simple and it is based on the criticality and complexity of the points. Time allocation could be done in multiples of 5 minutes i.e. 5, 10, 15, etc.
5. Highlight Responsible person for each item
Highlighting the responsible person for agenda items or questions is very important if you are expecting them to present or explain those items during the meeting. This way, they will prepare themselves for the meeting and you will find it easy to drive it.
You can put their names against each agenda item. It is better to inform them of the expectation from them before sending the agenda items.
Meeting Agenda Template
Now, you know about the meeting agenda, their challenges and importance, and steps for writing an effective agenda. Let’s see how can we combine these steps to properly structure a meeting agenda.
There is no fixed agenda format however, some companies maintain a standard template to draft and share meeting agenda. If your organization uses any standard agenda template then you should use the same, however, if you don’t have it then you can use the following meeting agenda template.
Greetings of the day!
The objective of this meeting to address the key challenges in the integrations, finance issues, reporting, and security vulnerability issues. The following are the agenda of the meeting for your reference.
Presenter: Mr. Mathew John
Location & Time: Oasis Meeting Room | 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
|1||How to finish the integration in 1 month within available resources?||Rose Geller (to share the plan)||15|
|2||What are the challenges in fixing finance issues?||Rachel Green (to share the current status)||10|
|3||What are the updates on the sales performance report?||Joey Tribbiani (to share the current status)||10|
|4||How to fix the information security vulnerabilities?||Chandler Bing (to share the plan and status)||15|
|5||Questions and Answers||Mathew (to take the notes and questions)||10|
Let me know if you have any challenges in attending this meeting on the proposed timing.
Have a nice day!
Mathew John | Senior Project Manager | Project – Alpha
This was just an agenda sample to give you an idea about it. I hope, it is clear for you now. It might take some time in the beginning but later, it will be very easy to draft and send for each meeting you schedule.
You should never forget to send the clear meeting minutes as soon as the meeting is over. Read the following article for some cool tips for writing an effective meeting minutes.
Writing meeting agenda shouldn’t be difficult for you and it could be achieved in no time if you know the proper steps and methods to draft one. A questions-based approach to agendas can bring focus, engagement, and better performance to your meetings.
Now, you know all about meeting agenda and its importance for getting maximum out of meetings.
You also know that steps for drafting an effective meeting agenda and went through a sample meeting agenda.
Now, you should be able to write an effective meeting agenda in 5 minutes for every meeting your schedule and your meetings will;
- be structured and finish with an outcome
- finish on time and people will come prepared
- be focused and will not go off the topic
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and it helped you in drafting meeting agenda for your next meeting. Please share this article if you found it useful and subscribe to the BABeginners mailing list to get the latest post directly to your inbox.