How to Write a Meeting Agenda

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Check the meeting agenda for mistakes, as well as for points you may have missed.
  6. Distribute the meeting agenda among the attendees. You can either print out the necessary number of copies or use email.

Topic Selection

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.”
  4. 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.

Do and Don’t

Do

  • Do specify the start and end time of the meeting in your agenda. Since everybody tends to value their own time, they will appreciate you letting them know how long the meeting is expected to last.
  • Do set an approximate time limit for the discussion of each agenda item and specify this time in parenthesis. Some slight amendments may be made, but generally, you should stick to the allotted time.
  • Do limit the agenda items to being presented within an hour or a bit more. This way, you save others’ time. Besides, it is a common idea to leave some topics for the next meeting.
  • Do include supporting documentation for agenda items when needed. This way, you will be sure all attendees have what is necessary to constructively participate in the meeting and to not have to catch up with the information in process.
  • Do distribute your meeting agenda to participants at least two weeks prior to the meeting in order for them to have enough time to prepare or come up with suggestions.
Don’t

  • Don’t improvise during the meeting. Try to stick to the agenda. Avoid skipping from one point to another, adding new agenda items, or excessively extending or shortening the time needed to discuss each of the agenda items.
  • Don’t use up all the time and don’t own the meeting. Let other people talk, express their thoughts and share ideas.
  • Don’t include people who are out of topic into the meeting. Instead, make sure to invite people whose expertise is in the subjects addressed in the agenda.
  • Don’t wait until the last moment to prepare an agenda for a meeting.
  • Don’t try to cram all the issues that must be solved into one meeting. Instead, concentrate only on those problems that require immediate actions or which are the most urgent.

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.

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Samples for Meeting Agenda

Meeting Agenda Sample

Objective: To discuss the company budget for March, determine what corrections should be made, and assign persons to be responsible for enhancing and modernizing the project. Date: February 2nd, 2013 Time: 12:00 A.M. Calle...
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Questions for Meeting Agenda