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We’ve all been a part of meetings that get off track, with meeting organizers seem ill-prepared. These kinds of problems usually stem from the fact that the meeting organizer did not provide an effective meeting agenda. An agenda sets expectations for participants and helps them prepare for the meeting.
Before scheduling a meeting, the first question to ask yourself is, “What do I want to accomplish with this meeting?” Once you’ve identified a purpose and goal for your meeting, you can create the agenda. In other words, begin with the end in mind.
An agenda stating the purpose and goal of a meeting helps attendees stay focused. Preparing your agenda in advance will help you prioritize topics for your meeting and ensure that you don’t miss anything important.
Some of the basic elements of a meeting agenda that you’ll want to include are the time the meeting is being held, the location (or the video conference link if you’re having a virtual meeting), and the main purpose and goals of the meeting.
Outline the themes you want to focus on for the meeting and put discussion topics under those themes. For the best results, allocate the amount of time you’re going to spend discussing each topic. This encourages people to stay within a timebox so that the meeting stays on track and doesn't run over. You might even consider assigning the topics out to specific people so that different people can lead the discussion around each topic.
Make sure any significant information about the meeting, such as attachments that need to be reviewed, reminders, or other details are provided in the agenda. Email the agenda to attendees in advance so they have time to review it.
For the meeting itself, you’ll want to roughly follow the outline below.
By sharing the agenda before the meeting, you enable attendees to review the topics and prepare their thoughts. You could even give attendees a chance to suggest additional topics if they have any.
By following the above tips on creating and sharing a meeting agenda in advance of your next meeting, it is sure to get off to a great start. While it might take a bit more time upfront to prepare for your meeting, you and your attendees will be able to have a more productive, effective, and actionable meeting and walk out knowing what the next steps are.
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