How to create an agenda

Howie Jones

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

According to a study conducted by Verizon Business, meetings are the number one time waster in the workplace. That’s because most meetings are unorganized, have no purpose, and go so off-topic that the meetings runs longer than it has to.

The easiest way to solve this problem? Create a meeting agenda. This not only reduces time and resources, it also give speakers time to prepare, encourages participation, and keeps the meeting on-track. We’ve analyzed over 6 million meetings and found that meetings with an agenda on average end 8 minutes earlier than ones without an agenda. With the average person in 5 meetings a day, that’s a savings of 3.3 hours a week for every employee involved.

However, if you’ve never created a meeting agenda before you probably don’t know where exactly to start. Thankfully you can refer to this article since it will give you pointers on how to create an agenda that really works.

Prepare your agenda early.

Your meeting is scheduled for Wednesday at three pm. Do you think you should start working on the agenda Wednesday morning? I would hope not.

Instead of waiting until the last minute, start creating your agenda in advance. There’s no exact time frame here, but I would recommend at least three days in advance. This gives you plenty of time to create a professional document and make any changes based on feedback from your team.

Furthermore, when you have the agenda created in advance, you can send it out to those attending the meeting. This way they know exactly what to expect and can prepare accordingly.

As the wise Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Start with the basics.

When you sit down to start creating your agenda start with the basics, such as:

    • What time will the meeting start and end? This should be short as possible, ideally 20-30 minutes.
    • Who are the necessary participants? Invite as few people as possible.
    • Where will the meeting be located? If meeting off-site, think of a location that’s convenient and suits your needs. If it’s a virtual meeting, include dial-in information.

This gives you the foundation to build your agenda on. And, because this should only take a couple of minutes, it’s not a task that you makes you procrastinate. In fact, once you just get started you’ll notice how quickly you’ll complete your next meeting agenda.

Clearly define your meeting objective.

Now it’s time to actually create the meeting agenda. As you do this think about what the goal of the meeting needs to be. It should also focus on what needs to be discussed, as well as the desired outcomes.

For example, if you’re planning a brainstorming session, then your objective could be to have your team develop two potential ideas. Once the best idea has been chosen, the team develops a plan to turn the idea into a reality.

Seek input from attendees.

Want your meeting to be productive? Then you need to make sure that invitees are engaged. The easiest way to do this is by seeking input from them.

If you’re planning a team meeting, ask your team members to suggest agenda items. Make sure they also provide a reason why this item should be discussed. If you don’t include the item, make sure you explain your decision. You may also be able to discuss the item one-on-one with the person.

Prioritize agenda items.

As you outline the items that will be discussed, add them to the agenda in order of importance. This way the meeting won’t run overtime. To ensure that the meeting is short and concise, keep the agenda to around five topics.

I would also break these topics down into key points so that everyone can see the key points. This will create a more focused discussion during the meeting.

List agenda topics as questions.

It’s not uncommon for agenda to have topics items listed as random phrases. It could something like “client project development.” I’m sure everyone gets the jest, but what exactly about the client’s project development is being discussed? Your team will no doubt be curious about that.

Instead, ask agenda topics as questions. In this case, “What resources are needed for developing a project for a client?” It’s more specific and allows attendees to better prepare for the meeting.

Allow adequate time.

This is tricky. As a general rule, however, it’s often guided by the content. For example, you don’t need to spend 10 minutes on your introduction. It should be around two minutes. You should at least plan to spend 10 minutes on your most important topic.

Again, your meeting should be no longer than 30 minutes. If it’s more, you may want to trim things down. If the meeting concludes in 20-minutes, that’s perfectly fine — and I don’t think anyone will complain because who doesn’t like getting out of a meeting early?

Include other pertinent information.

This could be naming the individual responsible for taking minutes to asking attendees to read an attached document. This way everyone knows what to expect and what they’re responsibilities will be.

Specify how members should prepare for the meeting and who’s leading each topic.

You should share the agenda with those attending at least 24 hours in advance. This way they can read any background materials and prepare any thoughts, questions, or concerns for each item.

Additionally, include a list of the roles and responsibilities for everyone in attendance. This will ensure that the meeting runs as smoothly as possible.

Identify the next steps.

After you’ve discussed the key topics and have made decisions, plan a couple of minutes to discuss the next steps — these are usually targeted goals. This way your next meeting will already have a purpose — which means it will be easier to write the outcome and agenda the next time around.

How to create an agenda

When meetings veer off-track, participants arrive unprepared, and topics are irrelevant — these problems often arise due to poor agenda design.

Agendas are important because an effective one increases team productivity

An effective agenda increases the productivity of the overall meeting because it establishes expectations on what needs to occur before, during, and after a meeting. It helps get everyone on the same page on the most important topics and enables the team to quickly address key issues.

What should be included in the agenda?

As Stephen Covey writes in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “Begin with the end in mind.” Agendas are lists of items that participants hope to accomplish at a meeting.

Agendas most often include:

  • Informational items – sharing out updates regarding a topic for the group. For example, a manager may provide an update on the year-end planning process.
  • Action items – items that you expect the group will want to review during the meeting. For example, performance against a specific time period or trajectory on a product launch.
  • Discussion topics – items that you want the group to provide feedback on. For example, collecting input on an upcoming commute policy change and questions that the team has about it.

In addition to this, they’ll often include specific details on how the meeting will be run. For example, agenda topics will often specify who will be presenting and for how long in order to establish expectations on who will be responsible for preparing the content and how much time they will have to present it.

Depending on the meeting, agendas can be distributed well in advance of a meeting or shared at the start of the meeting. It establishes the goal of the meeting and ensures everyone is on the same page on what you’d like to accomplish in that timeframe.

Agendas can be very short or very long

How formal should your agenda be? Often, people don’t feel like they have the time to prepare for a meeting much less write a full formal meeting agenda. When the stakes are high or the situation is very formal, it may make sense to include a formal pre-distributed agenda as well as capture meeting minutes. However, the pragmatic approach is to make agendas as simple as possible to meet the task at hand.

Informal Agenda Example

1) Intro (10 minutes – everyone)
2) Review quarter-to-date sales metrics (10 minutes)*
3) Discuss and approve proposal for next quarter’s sales goals (5 minutes)*
4) Review upcoming marketing campaign plan (15 minutes)

*See attached documents for quarterly actual and forecasted metrics.

Formal Agenda Example

1. Standing items – items that are always on the agenda of a regular meeting

– Take attendance
– Approve prior meeting’s minutes
– Team status updates
– Etc.

2. Last Meeting’s Business – discuss topics that were not completed in a previous meeting or action items that are due

– Stephanie – sales quota update (10 minutes)
– David – VP Sales hiring pipeline (5 minutes)

3. New Business – new topics for this week’s meeting

– Sam – Discuss facilities move (20 minutes)
– Randy – Employee engagement survey results (30 minutes)

4. Housekeeping – standing items at the conclusion of the meeting

– Clyde – Announcements
– Review of action items
– Date of the next meeting
– Etc.

Notejoy is a more effective way to manage your meetings

Running effective and productive meetings is more than just establishing a great template – it’s about managing the communication of information around the meeting. Is everyone on the same page about what the meeting’s topics and goals are? Have decisions been shared with everyone who needs to know? If you missed the meeting, how can you catch up on the details? Ensuring that the right people have access to information both in the meeting room and after is vital to operating a successful organization.

Notejoy is an effective solution for teams that want to manage their meeting agendas and notes to get and stay on the same page. It fundamentally changes the way that work is done.

How to create an agenda

Managing meetings in Notejoy is different for three reasons:

Real-Time Collaboration – As a cloud-based solution, Notejoy allows you to share your meeting agenda in advance with internal and external collaborators. These collaborators can view, discuss, and comment on meeting agendas as well as view the latest version.

Always in Sync – Rather than managing different versions of agendas or multiple threads of conversation, Notejoy allows the entire team to always see agendas including changes and discussions at the same time.

Improved Search and Visibility – With meeting notes and discussion comments documented directly in the agenda, teams can keep details in context and maintain one system of record for everything that happened. Manage who has access to what information, and enable team members old and new to search across past and current meeting content.

Kayla Sloan

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

Believe it or not, there are many managers who struggle with becoming a manager. One reason I find is because they have a hard time handling all of the duties a manager must constantly juggle. They get overwhelmed and shut down. Another is a lack of training.

If you are a new manager or leader who hasn’t had adequate training you may have a difficult time running meetings. This can result in your staff lacking confidence and loyalty in you.

This problem is not easily undone if you continue to publicly display your week areas through meetings that are poorly run.

1. Reduces Wasted Time and Resources

As a manager, you know there are real reasons you need to hold regular and impromptu meetings. You likely have announcements to make regarding your business or problems to go over and correct.

Everyone can direct their attention to the matters at hand when an agenda is created. Attendees have a written list of what is to be achieved by the meeting. Furthermore, it allows them to bring up relevant issues.

Should anyone need to leave the meeting early, having an agenda helps them know what is going to be discussed. If they need to catch up with you later to fill in the blanks, they have a general idea of what was talked about.

Was someone late to the meeting? If so, they now know what they didn’t hear because it’s on the agenda. In addition, you don’t have to waste everyone else’s time getting them up to speed on what has already been settled.

2. Allows Other Speakers to Prepare

Having an agenda is courteous to other guests you may have included in the meeting. It can also help invited speakers prepare for when and what they will talk about.

3. Encourages Participation

With a clear outline of what is going to be talked about, employees will feel freer to participate. Include time for questions and answers about what was discussed.

Also, add a line item to the agenda for staff members to bring up issues they feel are important. When employees are valued and empowered they are more loyal and productive.

4. Keeps You on Track

Have you ever gotten off topic in a discussion? If you are like the majority of people you said yes to this question which means you need a meeting agenda.

It is far easier to stop wasting time, stay focused, and get back on track when you have the discussion items in front of you to reference.

5. Ensures Important Topics are Covered

You can cut down on the number of meetings everyone attends by ensuring all the important topics were covered. The best way to do this is through an agenda.

When you are in management, meetings are an important and necessary part of your work. Being able to run a meeting, therefore, is a must. Get more out of your meetings by creating an agenda for the next one.

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How to create an agenda

How to create an agenda
For many of us in the workplace, one on one meetings are a necessary evil to be avoided at all costs.

“Awkward.” “Disorganized.” “Pointless.” 1:1s produce countless negative feelings for even the most enthusiastic employees. Having a solid, standard, and well-planned agenda can prevent that negativity – and make your one on one meeting productive and worthwhile.

What is a one on one meeting?

A 1:1 meeting is a regular dedicated sit-down between a manager and employee. One on one meetings serve to connect employees with management, where they can express their feelings, overcome obstacles, plan for the future, and ask for advice.

Why you need 1:1 meetings

Plenty of meetings in the workplace are actually time-wasters. How many times have you seen a meme that reads, “I survived another meeting that should have been an email?” The feeling is ubiquitous across all types of businesses. Often, even a team check in can be seen as pointless.

But what makes this the common sentiment? It may just be that your team member feels isolated or unheard.

How to create an agenda

That’s why 1:1 meetings are important for employees and managers alike. In a 1:1, managers can make sure employees are placing their focus where it needs to be.

These meetings give a manager an opportunity to guide an employee on their professional goals to forge a stronger bond and a happy workplace. To reap this benefit, you must plan an efficient meeting by building a well-designed meeting agenda.

How to build 1:1 meeting agenda

Every one-on-one meeting should include:

  • Feedback
  • Coaching
  • Notes taken since the last meeting

Your one on one meeting agenda should be shared prior to the meeting, giving both the manager and employee a chance to include their own notes and questions.

Looking to optimize the time spent in your meeting? Add time blocking to your agenda to make sure your meeting stays on track and doesn’t run over. And encourage your team members to take a no-meeting day afterward so they can work uninterrupted.

Here’s a one on one meeting template to build your next agenda:

1:1 agenda template

Want a template to set up an agenda for your own one on one meetings? We’ve put one together—you can find it here:

How do you structure your 1:1 meetings? Tweet at us @flock with your top suggestions.

By Wayne Turmel

Updated on: March 1, 2011 / 2:10 PM / MoneyWatch

How to create an agendaYou know all the complaints about meetings, particularly online. All together now. too long, off topic, boring, no leadership. the list is endless. Here’s the thing: it’s largely avoidable, and we know it. The one factor in almost all successful meetings is a good agenda. Here are some guidelines for creating an agenda that not only works–there’s a pretty good chance you’ll actually use it.

A good agenda is not brain surgery, so why don’t we do use them more often? Usually it’s because it takes time to create and send them and we’re always in a rush. By creating a template, either online or in your email platform, you can pause, breathe, fill in the blanks, and give you and your team a fighting chance at success (or at least lessening the pain and misery).

What goes into a good agenda? It should answer the questions your attendees need to know in order to make the best use of your time together:

Meeting logistics: The agenda should be the one place people know to reference for all the answers to their questions. Don’t assume because you use the same information all the time that they’ll automatically know it.

  • What time it’s going to start (and finish). If your system allows you to easily enter this into people’s calendars, take advantage of that and reduce the possible excuses for arriving late and leaving early.
  • How will you meet? If it’s a web meeting, include ALL relevant information with live links (url for the meeting, audio information). Again, eliminate any possible questions by providing the information up front. (Remember, in a template you can just leave the information that doesn’t change and update the stuff that does instead of reinventing the wheel every time).
  • Online meetings should contain a notice to log on a few minutes early, and how to test their system for compatibility. Most web platforms build this in to their invitations automatically. Insist people actually do it.

Purpose of the meeting with desired outcomes: People cannot be prepared to participate fully if they don’t know what’s going to be covered. They’ll also be less paranoid, which can only be a good thing. If they are expected to make a decision they should know that so they’re in the right frame of mind. If it’s a brainstorming session, they need to know they’ll be called on for input. Tell them what’s on the table–and what’s not on the agenda so don’t bother bringing it up– if you want them to comply.

Attendees and their roles: Who is going to be on the meeting? What will they be doing? Give people fair notice and then hold them accountable. Include email addresses, if it’s appropriate, so that people can provide input or answer questions in advance of the session. This will save time spent on minor issues.

What they need to read/prepare/do in advance and how to find and share that information: This is an area where meeting leaders are guilty of laziness and it bites them in terms of getting meetings started well and wasting too much time. Don’t wait til the meeting starts to email that spreadsheet- and don’t baby people who email you ten minutes before the meeting starts asking for it (because they either deleted it or saved it somewhere and can’t remember where). Have live links to all documents on the shared file site or intranet and insist people get those documents for themselves. Check to make sure they have them before the meeting starts so you don’t kill momentum by waiting til people look for them.

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If this all seems too simple, ask yourself what the most common meeting problems are. People arriving late, not knowing (or caring) what the meeting is designed to achieve, not being prepared to get down to business, having the wrong people in the meeting to achieve your outcomes, and not being held accountable for meeting success.

Eliminating the variables is important. So’s holding people accountable. The best way to do that is to slow down, use a tool like this, and make it part of every meeting so that it’s a seamless part of your leadership process.

Read more:

First published on March 2, 2011 / 6:45 AM

© 2011 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Agendas vary greatly depending on the length of the meeting, the size of the group, and the degree of formality. Here are some general guidelines to consider when preparing an agenda for a typical faculty committee or department meeting.

  1. Keep the agenda as short and simple as possible, preferably no more than a single page.
  2. Put the date, time, and location of the meeting at the top of the agenda.
  3. State the goals of meeting in two or three brief sentences at the top of the page.
  4. Sequence events in a logical flow from information sharing to discussion to decision-making.
  5. Sequence events to provide a feeling of accomplishment and momentum as early as possible.
  6. Anticipate the group’s energy level and tackle difficult tasks when energy is high and positive.
  7. Assign a time to each major item and indicate on the agenda who is responsible.
  8. When possible, distribute the agenda in advance.
  9. At the beginning of the meeting, check with the group to see whether other agenda items need to be added.

For larger more formal groups that meet relatively infrequently (e.g., monthly or quarterly), consider the following additional steps:

  1. Have an agenda committee comprising a representative sample of the group decide which issues need to be raised at the meeting.
  2. Send a draft agenda to all attendees and invite them to suggest additional items.

Sometimes people send an invite for a meeting that has a vague subject line and no agenda or goal stated. These kinds of meetings aren’t very efficient and cost more time than they should. That’s not what you want, right? So, if you’re organizing a meeting, make sure to have a clear meeting agenda. Creating an effective meeting agenda is one of the most important elements for productive and effective meetings, and here’s why:

  • The agenda communicates important information to all attendees. For instance, everyone will know what topics will be discussed, who will be the leader and how much time the meeting will take.
  • The meeting agenda can be used as a checklist, to ensure all topics are discussed.
  • It gives attendees the opportunity to come to the meeting prepared.
  • The agenda provides a focus for the meeting.

Here are a few tips that will help you create the meeting agenda, so you can have more efficient meetings.

Define meeting objective

Before you create the actual agenda, identify the goal of the meeting, it gives you and your team focus. What are the results your group needs to achieve by the end of the meeting? These objectives give you a reason to meet. Know why you called the meeting, what you hope to accomplish as a result and what action you expect from the meeting.

Prioritize meeting agenda points

When creating your list of meeting agenda points, make sure you prioritize your list of topics from most important to least important. This way you’ll make sure all the important topics are handled and accomplished.

Seek input from team members

If you want to have an engaging meeting with engaged attendees, make sure the meeting agenda includes items that reflect their needs. Ask team members to suggest agenda items along with a reason why each item is important for this meeting. If you asked attendees to add agenda items, make sure they know that they should contact you before the meeting with their agenda request and that they should think about the amount of time they will need to present it.

Select agenda items that affect the whole team

Meeting time is often expensive and difficult to schedule. It should mainly be used to discuss and make decisions on topics that affect the entire team — and need the entire team to solve them. They are likely to be issues for which people have different information and needs. If the team isn’t spending most of the meeting talking about interdependent issues, team members will not be engaged and will ultimately not attend the meeting.

Identify who is responsible for leading each topic

Someone other than the formal meeting leader is often responsible for leading the discussion of an agenda item. This person may be providing context for the topic, explaining data, or may have organizational responsibility for that area. Identifying this person next to the agenda item ensures that people take responsibility for leading that part of the agenda and prepare for it before the meeting.

Keep your meeting agenda short

Keep the meeting agenda to 6 agenda items or less. No one wants to spend 2 hours in a meeting. Long agendas seem daunting and often people won’t read them. That’s what we like to call ‘death by meeting’.

Let the content decide the time per topic

Let the content decide how long each agenda point should take. Don’t fall into the trap of overscheduling time per agenda point. If you think something will only take 2 minutes, just write that down next to the agenda point.

How to create an agenda

GAIKU to the rescue

So, take your time to create a clear meeting agenda, it offers an automatic solution for your meeting to be more efficient! All agenda points will be clear, and everyone knows who’s responsible. But to make it even easier for you, GAIKU is here to help! Your meeting agenda is fixed and sent out in no time! Ready to join our meeting revolution? Subscribe to the waiting list to stay updated, we’ll launch our product soon!

If you want to learn more about planning and organizing a meeting, check out our blog about how to plan an efficient meeting.