The Secret Cheatsheet to Create Perfect Meeting Agenda

During official meetings, there are times when participants lose focus on the topic of discussion. Whether they are unprepared or just zone out, members often tend to discuss irrelevant topics which they shouldn’t. A poorly set meeting agenda is a major reason that often makes participants wander into discussing vague topics. Going off-topic and having unwanted discussions mid-meeting is not only unprofessional but wastes the team’s time too.

Therefore, it is important to have an effectively drafted agenda right before the meeting. A well-planned agenda would allow the team members to allocate their time-slots while getting everyone on the same page. It also makes members understand how long the discussion is to be stretched.

Below are some of the best tips to draft highly effective agenda for your three-hour to 2-day long meetings.

Identify purpose of the meeting beforehand – Meetings are generally held to make decisions, share information, or prepare resolutions, and so on. Whatever maybe the purpose of calling the meeting, it should be identified and communicated to the participating members. This would not only save their time, but also let them prepare their speech, questions, and suggestions — adding to the effectiveness of the meeting. 

Logical topic selection – Arranging for a team meeting means it would require the participation of each and every individual of the team. It suggests that the entire team would have to allot that time-slot for the meeting — sacrificing their other important line-up.

Hence, go for topics which not only affect everyone but also engage and call for their actions. It is important for them to contribute to the meeting by putting forth their views. For example, what can be possible ways to utilize our resources well? How can we improve our turnaround time and reach customer well? Look for such interdependent issues on which each member would have ample to say. Otherwise, a missed plot would disengage them and waste their time as well.

Involve entire team – For better meeting outcomes, let the entire team come together and provide their respective inputs to enhance the discussion. A perfectly planned agenda should list down all important points that matter to all the members. When you decide to cut-off certain items, you should be able to explain the reason of doing so to the particular member.

Frame agenda questions – In your next official meeting, try framing questions out of topics as the agenda to be discussed. It wouldn’t be that difficult just to rearrange certain words into a question format.

Say for example, ‘how can we increase our sales for the next quarter’ is more appealing than ‘ways to increase sales for the next quarter’. Design agenda such that it leaves members to have healthy discussions and allows them to think over it.

Hence, a question-type agenda paves way in better preparation of the discussion than just listing down issues. It also enables members to analyze if they are on the right track as the others.

Agenda revaluation – Although the agenda had been prepared by the mutual consent of all team members, do spend few minutes in reviewing the topics. Before the meeting starts, there shouldn’t be any kind of confusion or misinterpretation regarding agenda topics. In fact, cross-checking the agenda would not only enhance meeting efficiency but also help maintain its integrity.

Time estimation – One of the most effective ways for a successful meeting is estimating and allocating time. Wherein, time-slots are calculated as to how much time would be spent on particular topics. Right from introducing the topic and finding apt solutions to acquiring consents, and answering questions — each activity should be devoted with a certain amount of time so that there is minimum hassles.

For example, let’s say if there are five members in your team meeting and eight topics to be discussed, allocation of ten minutes for every task can be wise and fruitful. The time allocation should purely be based on mere calculation. Just set aside certain minutes for each members’ speech and conclude the entire meeting time.

Set-up concrete guidelines – One of the most ideal ways to enhance effectivity of the meeting is to identify and set guidelines. Having proper meeting guidelines would ensure all members are on the same page. Whether there is a discussion on a certain topic or new policies need to be framed, chances of members wandering away from the topic would be lesser.

Proper assignment of each topic – Apart from the one who usually speaks at the meeting, other members too are required to elaborate on the topics. So that each topic is carefully addressed to, it is important to have every member assigned with a particular topic.

From providing briefs to elaborating the stats, and even framing policies, the agenda items must be assigned before conducting the meeting. This not only helps member to know what to speak but also ensures that all topics are well-covered.  

Allow members to prepare for the meeting – The success of any meeting is possible when the members are aptly prepared for it. Make sure the points to be discussed are known to the members beforehand. When members are familiar with the topic, they can certainly have an idea of what to present to the board.

End on a good note – A well-to-do meeting should always be concluded well and on a good note. So, right before winding up, statements like “I hope the meeting went well enough”, “We shall cover more points in the next meeting”, “We shall take up a different approach in the upcoming discussions”, etc. are sure to lace-up the meeting.

A healthy interaction of around ten to fifteen minutes post the discussion would encourage participants to look forward to upcoming meets. Plus, it shall also improve employee performance as they would realize their importance in the organization.

Following are certain points to consider when wrapping up the meeting:

  1. Was there enough time for everyone to prepare for the meeting?
  2. Was the time-slot allocation effective enough?
  3. Did we properly estimate time for everyone to speak on the particular topic?
  4. Was each member able to put forth their ideas as planned?
  5. Were the agenda topics justified as per the purpose of the meeting?

We hope the above pointers are as useful to you for conducting effective, productive, and successful meetings.