Every type of meeting needs an agenda. This video goes into how agendas vary for the type of meeting and how to decide on the order of points on the agenda. In addition, learn about allocating names to agenda items and setting the right tone with the agenda.
- The Agenda is by far the most important document at the meeting, and yet amazingly some meetings don't have agendas. You might be tempted to think the meeting's only going to cover one thing. Do we really need an agenda? Well yes, I think we do. I think you can always break that one thing down into the sections that need to be discussed. Otherwise you're bound to have a wobbly mass of discussion with no progress made. Even a Problem-Solving Meeting can be structured.
You can think about defining the problem, possible solutions, choosing a solution, implementation plans, possible risks with the plan, etc. And certainly your Team Meeting should have an agenda. Probably each person talks about what they've done, what they plan to do, and any problems they're stuck on. Some people have a little five minute egg timer to keep each person on track at the weekly meeting. And at a Communication Meeting where it's mainly just a one way talk from you to a group of people, perhaps with some questions at the end, you would still ideally have an agenda, for you, to make sure you cover everything, and particularly for the audience, so they know what to expect.
The audience might be given an agenda at the start, to make notes on, or you might just put it up on a screen with PowerPoint, and perhaps come back to it a couple of times during the talk so everyone knows where they are. And finally the fourth type of meeting, the Progress Meeting, where you're checking up on the progress of a number of jobs. This would have a list of all the areas that are to be reported on, with a name against each one sent out in advance. So that people can prepare and they have no excuse if they haven't brought the right materials to report on.
So the agenda must exist, and will be circulated about three days to a week before. Earlier than that and people will forget about it again, later than that and they don't get enough time to prepare. Obviously if someone has to prepare something really big then you might send them an individual heads-up saying that you need them to present X in a month's time or whatever. Now what should an agenda ideally look like? Well it would ideally be a single page, really just a list of the main points to be covered.
Each with a predicted start time, maybe with names of whoever has to report on each point so they can come prepared. With the date of the meeting at the top and the overall start and finish times. Probably with some space at the bottom for any other business, though I'll come back to this later. What about the order of points on the agenda? Considerations here are first, that you might not finish everything. So the most important subjects need to be first, or at least in the first half of the list.
You might also want to start the meeting with one or two easy things to get the meeting on a roll, get a few quick wins in. And the other consideration is that there might be someone who only needs to attend for one agenda item. So if you have that first, then that person can go at that point. If you deal with their item halfway through, it's hard for them to know when to turn up, so they do really have to be first. Finally, the agenda is the chance for you to set the for the meeting, and it's objectives.
For example, you could put: Please don't be late, or: This meeting is our last chance to agree how we're going to allocate the parking. So please research your requirements before the day. We will decide on our final plan at this meeting. So to sum up, what extra points might you add to your agenda in order to get your meeting off to a great start? And do you always have an agenda? And does it have a finish time? And could you allocate times and names and responsibilities to some of the agenda items?
- Setting up meetings
- Determining who needs to attend a meeting
- Choosing your meeting duration
- Providing reminders for successful meetings
- Facilitating a successful meeting
- Getting the best out of people
- Dealing with latecomers and common meeting problems
- Deciding if you should go to a meeting
- Making your voice heard
- Managing remote or virtual meetings