A meeting agenda is a document prepared to make a meeting more organized and efficient. Without a written agenda, business meetings tend to run longer and get off topic. On the other hand, preparing an agenda will help you structure a meeting, focus it on the most important problems, and identify its desired outcomes.
Steps for Writing a Meeting Agenda
- Determine the reasons and objectives why you called for a meeting. An objective has an active component and chalks out what needs to be done or decided during the meeting.
- Prepare a list of topics or agenda items to discuss. You can also ask the attendees to submit their own topics. Usually, this is done about a month before the meeting so that everyone is able to prepare the issues they would like to discuss during the meeting.
- Set priorities to each of the agenda items in order to make sure that the most crucial ones are discussed first. Exclude those agenda items that are not aimed to achieve the stated objective of the meeting.
- Assign presenters. Not all of the agenda items should be presented solely by you. Instead of dominating the leadership role, you might want to share it with other attendees to involve more people in active participation. Also, you can assign the person that will be responsible for taking meeting minutes.
- Check the meeting agenda for mistakes, as well as for points you may have missed.
- Distribute the meeting agenda among the attendees. You can either print out the necessary number of copies or use email.
The topics for meeting agendas are usually chosen concerning any urgent issues that need discussion and resolution. Therefore, depending on the task that is currently performed, a meeting can be held on different topics. For example, agenda items may be:
- a discussion of new industry trends and technologies
- the outcomes of applying certain business strategies
- challenges a certain project may face
- development of new marketing strategies
- summing up monthly activities of a company
- new approaches for evaluating the efficiency of each department’s activity
Key Points to Consider
- When allocating time on each of the agenda items, it is important to remember time is needed not only to present a certain issue, but also to discuss it.
- If you hold meetings often, create a template of a meeting agenda. This way you will minimize the time needed to prepare this document for a subsequent meeting and will ensure that you always attend to the major points that are commonly present in meeting agendas.
- Make a proper heading. Usually, the meeting agenda heading includes the date, location, starting and ending time, and expected attendees. Be specific about phraseology here, as the agenda should be informative and reflect the main objectives. For example, writing “Developing Marketing Strategies for Project 112 in July” will tell the attendees much more than “A Meeting on Marketing.”
- Number the agenda items. This makes it easier for you to refer to them and easier for your listeners to keep track of what is going on.
Dos and Don’ts
Common Mistakes When Writing a Meeting Agenda
- Allowing random changes to be made during the meeting instead of sticking to the agenda. In outstanding cases, the written agenda may be changed without too much interruption to the flow of the meeting; however, this is better done before and not during the meeting.
- Having no written agenda. No matter how amazing your memory is and how well you’ve thought over the meeting’s objectives and agenda items, you still need to write a plan down. Otherwise, you risk forgetting important items to be discussed.
- Forgetting to attach supporting materials. You need these materials to ensure that every attendee keeps up with the topics raised at the meeting.
- Forgetting to sum up the decisions made during the meeting on each of the agenda items.
Now that you have acquainted yourself with the basic meeting agenda writing tips and rules, you can check out our meeting agenda samples to link theory with practice.