If there's one thing that's crucial for successful meetings, it's preparation, and a big part of that is writing a perfect meeting agenda. When leading a meeting, you might be responsible for managing a large number of people and tasks. An effective agenda can help you make sure you discuss all the necessary material, keep the meeting on topic and ensure that your group uses time efficiently.
What is a meeting agenda?
It might seem a little basic, but before we write an agenda, we need to get our definition in place. In its simplest form, your meeting agenda format is a list of topics to address during a meeting. It lets everybody know the schedule of the meeting with times, topics, and any special roles that you want your participants to play. Hand out your agenda to every attendee in advance, and you’re ready for a productive meeting.
To understand where you should start writing, it’s important to know where not to write it. Keep your pad of paper and pencils in your 1990s filing cabinet, they're no use to you here. Aside from possibly losing your notebook and having to decipher your own scrawl, the main problem with this old fashioned technique is that it's a nightmare for teamwork. Even printed out sheets have a very avoidable environmental impact.
Collaborative documents allow you to share your meeting agenda with your team that they can always access in their own Drive or via an email. You can open up your document and work on it with others, or keep editing rights for yourself. Keep a record of every meeting in the same document. This leaves you with one go-to place where you can consult all past meetings and easily find notes for upcoming meetings.
We're sure you're always looking for ways to cut down on admin tasks and there's no reason you should make an exception for your meetings. After your first session, use your document as a meeting agenda template and tweak details rather than starting all over again.
If your meetings are recurring, say on a weekly basis, you can also save time there. Make a recurring meeting on your calendar and send out repeating invitations to all your attendees so you don’t have to waste time on little admin tasks.
However, it’s not always that easy. You might need to carefully plan each meeting you have, for example shareholder meetings. In this case, you can create a project management workflow that you can follow from start to finish and avoid missing out important parts.
By using these time-saving measures, you free up more time for where you should be spending your time — making a great agenda for a great meeting.
Every meeting needs at least one goal — if not, why would you have one? So before you send out invites or worry about the intricate details, make a list of your goals. Feel free to pass this around other stakeholders to allow them to add goals you might not have thought about. This list will become your reference point as you complete the subsequent tasks for your meeting agenda.
It’s important to make your objectives clear and precise to avoid drifting off topic or simply biting off more than you can chew. For example, rather than having a meeting to plan your social media content for a year, go for one month and point out the right kind of posts to stick with throughout the year.
It’s an easy area to forget when planning a meeting, but assigning a note taker is an essential task.
But what many meeting agenda examples don’t include is that instead of just typing notes down on a shared document, you can put them straight into your project management software. You’ll quickly see this laser-focuses your subsequent steps — rather than having ambiguous goals, you can pinpoint tasks, responsible people, subtasks and times.
Speaking of times, when deciding how to write an agenda for a meeting, don’t forget about strict timings. Unfortunately, each of your attendees will have other priorities, and if you frequently overrun your meetings, people will be reluctant to accept in the future.
For your first time, you will have to take an educated guess at how long each topic will take, but when it comes to the meeting itself, you can start getting data involved. Get ready with a time management tool, and keep a record of how long each section takes. If you are likely to repeat the same session, you’ll have a record of how long each part takes and be able to put reliable times to your meeting agenda outline.
Once you’ve set your times, it’s important to stick to them. If you feel like topics need more work, put a task in your project management system to spend more time focused just on that topic.
Be sure that your meeting agenda allows for five minutes or so at the end of the meeting to review what has been discussed, what decisions have been made, and what are the next steps to take. Of course, you don’t need to rely on your memory for this — your note taker will have a summary and you can check your project management tools for tasks that have been assigned based on the meeting.
This is also the perfect time to open up the floor for people to say what went well and what needs improvement. And why not start planning your next one now? As you hear suggestions, note them down on your on-going document and you won’t have to remember them when you’re back to the drawing board.
Now you know how to write a perfect meeting agenda, it’s time for you to adapt our advice to your business. One important tip we would give is to have the right software in place. Whether you’re a remote team or an office-based team, an easy-to-use suite of tools can make your meeting planning so much easier. From shared documents and internal emails to project management and time tracking software, Bitrix24 is like having a team of assistants for all areas of your business.