If your meetings have gone off track in the past, never fear. A great agenda and a moderator who can use it is all you need to host a more efficient meeting! Read these tips on how to build a great meeting agenda that can help you prepare for, guide, and follow up after a meeting.
Creating an Agenda
Before you set a meeting, ask yourself: What is the goal? Are you soliciting feedback on a problem your team is facing? Are you informing the team of a strategic shift or a management change? Do you need to end the meeting with a decision or solution? Give the agenda a concentrated focus based on your meeting goal. The topics, purpose, and objectives should be crystal clear to everyone. A great way to do this is to break your meeting up into 3 sections with different purposes:
- Informational Items – Share new information with participants. Answer any questions on clarity, but this section is mostly to disseminate news.
- Action Items – Collaborate on projects or ideas relevant to participants. Be sure to establish how much you expect to get done during this section. Clearly inform participants on how they should prepare ahead of the meeting. The most effective sessions will be when everyone has done their individual pieces and this time is used to review and adjust this work from multiple perspectives.
- Forward Planning – Discuss next steps for each participant with objectives and timelines.
Plan the amount of time you hope to spend on each type of item, and give some cushion in case subjects run longer than expected while still keeping the meeting within its scheduled time. And there’s no need to lead the entire meeting yourself. If someone else is an expert or has an important update to share, let them take command and present that part of the meeting.
Choose Attendees Carefully
Your team members know when a meeting isn’t relevant for them or feels like a waste of their time. If everyone isn’t needed on action plan, you can cut them off the meeting that day. Think about who must attend related to your meeting goals:
- If you need feedback, invite only those from whom you need feedback.
- If you’re informing the team of a change, invite only those impacted.
- If you must have a decision or solution, invite only people with authority to decide or those who might have information that can inform a solution.
Ask yourself the following questions once you’ve built out your attendee list to make sure you’ve got everyone you need:
- If we develop a solution, who will own it?
- Who currently owns or runs the process we’re discussing?
- Who has been through this before?
- Whose buy-in will we need on this?
Now that you have the right people, you can leverage your agenda to run the meeting efficiently.
Run the Meeting with the Agenda as it’s North Star
A consistent approach is key to running a meeting like a well-oiled machine. So try to repeat the same steps each time you host a meeting. Here’s a quick hit-list to successfully run your meeting using the agenda you’ve as your North Star!
- Send the agenda more than 24 hours ahead of the meeting, so everyone has time to prepare.
- Begin the meeting with an agenda review to so everyone remembers what to expect and you can stick to the time you allotted.
- Ban extra tech not being used for the meeting. Those presenting or video conferencing in will clearly need to use their gadgets, but otherwise ask everyone to shut their laptops and put down their phones.
- Employ the parking lot method for any tangents. Assign someone to write down anything that comes up unrelated to the agenda, to be revisited at the end of the meeting if there’s time. Many times, the comments have already been addressed or answered, or they can be pushed to another meeting. If you don’t have an extra hand for this, use GoToMeeting’s Smart Meeting Assistant record the meeting and take notes for you with NLP-enabled meeting transcripts.
- Moderate participation. Try to prevent conversation hijackers and engage more reserved participants to give them the chance to share their insight.
Following up in a timely way helps your team manage tasks and perform more effectively. Send a recap aligned with the agenda within 24 hours of the meeting, detailing what was discussed and accomplished along with any visuals or resources that were presented. Include clear next steps for the team including tasks with their owners and timelines. Hold the team accountable for meeting their deadlines, but keep communication open to help clarify any confusion about tasks or to assist with any setbacks.
Using your agenda as a compass to get you through your meeting will help keep you and your team from getting lost in the weeds. And with a clear, purposeful agenda in hand, your team will be more productive and feel more accomplished —and thank you later.
Let us know what you think are the most important aspects to a meeting agenda in the comments below!