Are you thinking about creating a meeting agenda for an upcoming meeting at work?
Having doubts as to whether or not it’s a good idea to spend your time preparing a meeting agenda?
And, we’ve all spent countless minutes sitting in meetings that could have been held in less than half the time of the actual meeting.
The fact is, taking a few moments to organize your thoughts for an upcoming meeting can help you better manage and run a more effective meeting.
In this post, I offer four fantastic reasons as to why you should create a meeting agenda.
Whether you’re organizing a 300-person meeting at a large company, or putting together an agenda for your three-person neighborhood club, it’s a good idea to prepare a meeting agenda for your next gathering.
You’ll have a roadmap for your meeting.
You wouldn’t go driving to a town you’ve never visited or been to without having some sort of roadmap or guide in hand, would you? Probably not.
So, why wouldn’t you create or have a meeting agenda or guide on hand for your meetings?
It’s far easier to run an effective meeting when you know exactly where you want the meeting to go.
You didn’t call a meeting simply for the thrill of calling a meeting. You wanted information to be shared, concerns to be voiced, decisions to be made, and actions selected. The good news is that a meeting agenda can help you keep a meeting on course.
You can think of upcoming meetings as a combination of driving trips rolled up into one. In one sense, you’ve already driven along familiar territory, you’re quite well-acquainted with all those facts, figures, data, information, and project statuses. But, on the other hand, you’re getting ready to drive into unfamiliar territory. You have an idea as to where you’d ultimately like the meeting to go, but you’re uncertain as to how each of those bits of information fit together when it comes to the big picture.
Instead of winding, pausing, and backtracking your way through different agenda items, why not take the shorter route instead and create a roadmap for you and your meeting participants to follow? When creating your agenda, think about where you’d like the meeting to ultimately end up. In other words, what is your meeting goal? Which agenda items will help you get there?
Remember, meeting agendas are helpful for any size meeting, be it a large one with many participants, or a small one with just a handful of people. Even if you’re holding an informal meeting with just one other person, you may find it helpful to jot down a few points to help you keep your discussion on track.
You’ll help other people prepare.
Meeting agendas are typically distributed at the beginning of meetings. It’s a great way for meeting attendees to get settled in and ready for the presentations and discussions to come. But what if you could help other people prepare themselves in advance of a meeting? That’s right, the solution is as simple as drafting up an agenda.
Taking time to create a meeting agenda well in advance of the meeting, not only helps meeting organizers like yourself stay organized, but everyone else, from presenters, and in some situations, to attendees. The process encourages people to think about the upcoming meeting…and everything that follows.
Reviewing a draft agenda gets people thinking about things like meeting slide decks, handouts, speeches, discussion points, refreshments, and the like. If you happen to be in a position and in a workplace where soliciting others’ feedback for meeting agendas is allowed, type up a first draft of an agenda, and circulate it to others for their review and approval.
And what if you should happen to receive a copy of an upcoming meeting agenda, either as a draft, or final version? Take a couple of minutes to review it.
As a meeting presenter, this will be your last opportunity to finalize or update your agenda points for the meeting with the meeting organizers, as well as gather all the data, information, or tools you’ll need in order to present. As a meeting attendee, this is your first opportunity to familiarize yourself with the upcoming meeting, and prepare yourself mentally for what’s to come.
You’ll help keep everyone focused.
Having an agenda on hand at a meeting is a great way to keep meeting attendees focused. And in case you’re wondering, this goes way beyond simply handing meeting attendees an agenda as soon as they arrive for the meeting.
A well-crafted meeting agenda ensures there’s no confusion as to what the meeting will entail. All of the agenda items are laid out clearly, and neatly, one by one, in consecutive fashion. Meeting attendees can refer to the agenda and see exactly what’s to come for the duration of the meeting. There’s no surprises, or shocking revelations; what you see, is what you get.
A meeting agenda can also be used as a time management tool to help move the meeting along. Besides including the meeting time and duration, you can also include specific amounts of time for each agenda item. This helps keep everyone on track: from meeting presenters to attendees.
What’s more, referring to the meeting agenda is a way to keep people focused on actually finishing the meeting. As soon as things get out of line in a meeting, say, a speaker goes off topic, side conversations pop up, or attention-spans are seriously waning, you can simply refer people back to the meeting agenda. It’s an easy way to shift people’s attentions to finishing each of the agenda items…and wrap up the meeting in a timely fashion so people can get on with their day.
When creating your meeting agendas, make sure each of the meeting points are in written in clear, easy-to-understand language. Lay out each of the meeting points in a logical and sequential order, and don’t forget to include specific lengths of time for each meeting point.
Wondering whether or not your meeting agenda makes any sense? Run it by a colleague or coworker for a quick review.
You’ll have a useful meeting record.
You may think meeting agendas are a one-time thing: you receive an agenda at a meeting, and once the meeting is over, you chuck it in the recycling bin. But, keeping select meeting agendas can be incredibly useful in your work, especially when you want to have a record of items discussed at the meeting. This can be particularly useful if a meeting is on the informal side and/or minutes aren’t taken at a meeting.
For starters, having a meeting agenda on hand as you review your meeting notes can help jog your memory. Your notes may start off looking like a mass of confusing scribbles, but with a meeting agenda on hand, why those notes suddenly turn into a coherent bunch of words!
And what if you didn’t happen to take notes at your meeting? In some cases, simply glancing at your meeting agenda post-meeting, may be enough to help you recall bits of information or items discussed during the meeting.
Secondly, keeping your meeting agendas is a great way to track your productivity in consecutive-type meetings. Comparing agendas against one another allows you to see patterns in meetings you might not have previously noticed: agenda items that are never resolved, agenda items taking longer than their allotted meeting time, and so on. If you’ve got a series of consecutive-type meetings that are in need of a tune up, try reviewing your agendas for some clarity.
Now, keep in mind, this isn’t to say you should save every single meeting agenda you’ve ever received from every meeting you’ve attended, for all time’s sake. Be choosy as to which meeting agendas you’ll keep, and for how long.
For example, you might decided to keep meeting agendas as a guide when you rewrite your meeting notes, and then recycle them. Or, perhaps you’ll keep your meeting agenda in your files until a short-term project or assignment has been completed. The choice is yours.How about you? Which of these points made the most impact on you? What’s going to be your go-to reason for creating meeting agendas in future? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!