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Top Tips for an Effective Meeting Agenda

Mangers, leaders and first-time readers, don’t underestimate the power of an agenda. A well-organised agenda is the foundation for a productive meeting.

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Have you left a work meeting thinking what was the point? Yes, we get it. We’ve been there too. It’s annoying to attend a meeting without a specific focus or sit through a meeting that goes completely off-track. Without a plan, meetings waste time and resources that could be better spent elsewhere. 

Like actually getting some work done.

Introducing: the meeting agenda. The equivalent of your ‘best friend who tells you whether the party you’ve both been invited to is worth attending or not’. (although, let’s face it. No meeting is a party).

Why, you ask? Because, whether your meetings happen daily, weekly or monthly, they might not have the best reputation. Many people dread meetings and feel that they're a massive waste of time. This couldn't be farther from the truth, but great meetings require their fair share of planning. Hello again, meeting agendas.

Mangers, leaders and first-time readers, don’t underestimate the power of an agenda. A well-organised agenda is the foundation for a productive meeting. If you still need convincing, here are three more reasons (you are welcome) why you need to make an agenda for your next meeting:

They max out productivity 🔋

Who doesn't love that? Shared meeting agendas will help you reverse the stereotype of meetings being a waste of time. Using an agenda will transform your meetings into efficient work sessions that your entire team (actually) looks forward to attending.

They provide a record of the important stuff 🏆

Meeting agendas usually provide space for meeting notes, so you'll have a written record of important takeaways for the entire team to refer back to whenever they want to.

They prevent them from running overtime 🕰️ 

If you think about it, meeting agendas can be extremely helpful time management tools. They'll help you plan for a realistic amount of topics to be discussed at the meeting and make sure that you stick as close to your schedule as possible.

What should a meeting agenda include? 🎁

If you’re looking for all the important details a meeting agenda should include, here’s a quick checklist:

  • The meeting's date, time, and location. 
  • The name of the facilitator
  • The purpose of the meeting
  • The list of participants

Dive’s quick tip: A meeting agenda should also include any supporting materials, such as excel sheets, PDFs, videos, and cloud files. The agenda should also specify any required reading or materials for the meeting attendees.

So how do we actually make a great meeting agenda? 🗒️

A meeting agenda should have a clear objective, bring people together, and offer direction for the future. Take a look at some reasons why you should create an agenda for your next meeting:

Identifying the goal of your meeting 🎯

Before starting an online meeting, determine what its purpose is (and no, just saying it’s a ‘syncup’ doesn’t count). If it is to inform participants of an upcoming event, for example, it needs to be short and concise. Avoid obscurity, wordiness, and details. If your meeting is a book you want to sell, your agenda is the back blurb that people read before they buy it.

Identifying the purpose of your meeting helps you avoid wasting time with unproductive meetings. Let’s face it. No one’s got time for unproductive meetings. Yes, no one at all. When participants are not focused (read: interested), it's easy to start losing track of the meeting. If you have multiple goals for the meeting, write them down as a reference. You can also have your team members write down the purpose so that they can stay on track (after all, it helps when they feel like it’s their responsibility).

Avoiding cramming too much into the agenda 🧺

If you're running an online meeting, trying to fit in too much into a meeting reduces its effectiveness. While it's tempting to cover as much ground as possible, you should spend enough time on key points that will help the group make meaningful decisions. You can always have a follow up meeting if you really want to discuss something in greater detail (or quickly summarise your findings in the company Townhall)!

Setting times for discussion items is crucial, especially for new meetings. It can be difficult to decide when to bring up topics in the agenda, but it will help keep everyone focused and prevent painful moments later. For example, it's crucial to include a space for asking questions. A trick is to include a reference to a shared document or virtual whiteboard. This way, attendees can ask questions without having to re-read the agenda. Lastly, remember to include a clear overview of the tasks that need to be accomplished during the meeting. This way, you can avoid any pain points in the meeting, as well as clarifying questions of scope!

Allocating time slots for each agenda item ⏰

When making an online meeting agenda, you need to allocate time slots for different agenda items. It's important to allocate enough time for each topic, or else the meeting could go off track. Decide who will be responsible for different items and determine the order in which they should be discussed - remember how Spiderman’s uncle told him ‘With great power, comes great responsibility’ - it works in meetings too!

Allocating time slots also makes it easier to plan the entire meeting, since you don't need to worry about running out of time (also, more so because different members may want to leave halfway through)!

Ask for feedback on the meeting agenda 🎙️

When drafting out the agenda, remember that you're asking people for their precious time, which means you shouldn’t take it for granted. Make sure that each topic affects the entire team. Think of it this way. By seeking input, you'll increase employee engagement and encourage them to contribute ideas to the agenda. 

You need to think about who will be attending the meeting and what the purpose of the meeting will be. If you know the purpose of the meeting, you can allot some time for other deliverables. If the meeting is for a single topic, you can segment the participants based on that.

Another tip for keeping participants engaged during an online meeting is to make sure they can keep their hands busy. You can do this by prompting them to type out their answers or by using the chat feature. Using visual reminders and highlighting contributions will encourage people to participate and contribute to the meeting. Providing feedback is another way to keep participants interested. Ensure that participants feel appreciated and take their opinions seriously. The icing on the cake here? You can use this feedback to create better meetings.

Build a meeting template 👷🏗️

Using a meeting template to make an agenda is a smart way to organise your next meeting. You can create a template that will organise your information into sections, as well as add links and articles that will be useful to your attendees. Once you have a library of specific agenda templates, you can re-use them and modify them as you go, which will save you time and boost your overall productivity!


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