Is your schedule so jam-packed with meetings that it’s hard to find time to prepare? With the average professional attending over 25 meetings/week (a 69.7% increase since February 2020), meeting agendas are more important now than ever to make sure you don’t waste your coworkers time.
We’re all too familiar with the pains of a poorly planned meeting. You know the drill: a vague agenda, wandering discussions, and the feeling that this whole thing should have been an email. Yet, many meetings are necessary to keep our projects and teams moving forward.
In this blog post, we’ll cover everything you need to create meeting agendas that are concise, purposeful, and powerful – plus key tips and meeting agenda templates.
What are the benefits of a meeting agenda?
First, what is a meeting agenda? A meeting agenda is a list of topics participants want to discuss in the meeting.
We all know time is our most valuable resource, and a well-crafted meeting agenda is the best time-saving tool you can use to make sure the time you spend in meetings is actually productive. Here are the top benefits of using a meeting agenda:
- Outline the purpose of the meeting so everyone is on the same page.
- Ensure attendees know why they need to be there.
- Allow attendees to contribute topics and ideas.
- Help attendees to prepare before the meeting.
- Keep the meeting on track and help your team stay focused.
- Track follow-up action items from the meeting.
So if you’re tired of walking into meeting rooms only to realize you’re not sure why you’re there, and finding yourself very underprepared – it’s time to start building agendas before your meetings. This isn’t just about avoiding confusion; it’s about setting the stage so everyone is on the same page, ready to dive headfirst into meaningful discussions. Your team is a treasure trove of ideas, experiences, and expertise. But without a roadmap, that treasure can remain buried.
And to make sure that creativity and productivity follows through after the meeting, make sure everyone leaves with clear action items from the discussion.
The anatomy of the meeting agenda
A meeting agenda is more than just a list of bullet points; it’s a structured roadmap to a successful meeting. While agendas are relatively straightforward, they have some essential components:
1. Purpose of the meeting
The meeting agenda needs to specify the meeting objectives, aim, theme, or purpose. Why are you all gathered here? What’s the overarching goal you’re striving to achieve? This sets the tone and direction for the entire session.
2. Agenda items & topics
Each agenda item is a distinct, but central, topic of the meeting that is to be discussed by the participants. Attendees should contribute agenda items before the meeting so you can accurately estimate how much time you’ll need for each.
3. Talking points
Some meeting agendas also include talking points alongside agenda items. These are a set of concise phrases that frame a proposal, project, or idea. They give structure to the conversation and ensure every vital point is addressed.
4. Supporting documents
Many meetings require context in the form of supporting documents – such as data reports, documents, or designs. Sharing them in advance allows everyone to review them beforehand and come prepared to discuss – not waste time reviewing during the meeting.
5. Action items & next steps
These are the follow-up tasks that result from the discussion. While you’re in the meeting discussing each topic, you’ll want to build this list of action items outlining next steps, who’s responsible, and when each item is due. Action items keep the momentum going after the meeting concludes.
6. Key decisions
In order to track the results of the meeting, you should document the key decisions made to be able to look back on progress over a project, and how you ended up making decisions that affect your project and team.
Who’s responsible for the agenda?
Meeting agendas are necessary – that much is clear. So who’s responsible for creating the agenda and maintaining it?
The meeting organizer will typically create the meeting agenda, but they should not be the only person contributing to it.
All the participants should be able to add their own topics, questions, comments, or concerns to the agenda – and be able to contribute to the overall format. Otherwise, meetings run the risk of becoming one-sided lectures where the only speaker is the meeting organizer. This is not a valuable use of everyone’s time, not to mention super unproductive.
If all attendees shoulder some weight in creating the agenda, it will help make the meeting a collaborative and productive discussion – which it needs to be since you’re taking time out of people's day to be there.
What makes a good meeting agenda?
Meeting agendas aren’t all that mystifying. Their purpose is to give a logical structure and focus so your time together is well spent and productive. After all, meetings are expensive — a 30-minute meeting with 3 employees costs $700 - $1,600 on average.
Of course, many meetings are necessary. And to make the most out of everyone’s time, an agenda is key. Ultimately, a good meeting agenda (regardless of the type of meeting it is) consists of 5 things:
- A list of meeting attendees.
- The expected length/duration of the meeting.
- The purpose of the meeting.
- A list of topics, questions, or other items to discuss.
- The action items (that will be generated in the meeting).
How to make a meeting agenda
With all that said, how do you actually write a meeting agenda? Here’s how:
1. Determine the purpose
Before putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), ask yourself: why are we having this meeting? Is it for brainstorming? Decision-making? Project updates? Understanding the purpose helps you define the scope and direction of your agenda.
2. Clearly state the meeting objective
Now that you know the purpose, spell it out. What’s the most important thing you want to achieve at the end of the meeting? This objective becomes your North Star, guiding the rest of your agenda.
3. Clarify expectations
Let your meeting participants know what’s expected of them. Are they required to prepare any materials or come ready with specific insights? Clear expectations ensure everyone comes prepared and ready to engage.
4. Make a list of topics, questions, or tasks
Time to brainstorm. Jot down the key topics, questions, or tasks that align with your objective. Keep them concise and focused.
5. Provide each item a realistic amount of time
Time is precious, and no one wants a meeting to run over time or, worse yet, skip key topics. Assign a time slot to each agenda item. Be realistic; don’t squeeze an hour’s worth of discussion into 10 minutes.
6. Include documents to review beforehand
Context is king. If there are reports, data, or documents that need to be discussed, include them in your agenda. Sharing these materials in advance saves precious meeting time for actual discussion.
7. Involve your team
While the meeting organizer will probably take the lead in writing a meeting agenda, they shouldn’t be the only one. Involve your team by seeking their input on topics, questions, or tasks that matter to them.
Meeting agenda examples – 12 templates
What does an effective meeting agenda look like, then? Check out our meeting agenda template to help create yours for your next meeting:
Here are 12 meeting agenda example templates you can use for your next meeting:
1. Weekly Team Meeting Agenda Template
2. Board Meeting Agenda Template
3. Daily Sync Meeting Agenda Template
4. One-on-One Meeting Agenda Template
5. All-Hands Meeting Agenda Template
6. Project Kickoff Meeting Agenda Template
7. Sales Team Weekly Kickoff Agenda Template
8. Retrospective Meeting Agenda Template
9. Weekly Product Development Meeting Agenda Template
10. Customer Onboarding Meeting Agenda Template
11. Performance Review Meeting Agenda Template
12. Brainstorming Session Meeting Agenda Template
📅 Book your team meetings without any work
Now that we’ve covered the ins-and-outs of meeting agendas – let’s walk through the best way to actually schedule these meetings on your calendar.
You and your team can increase your available time slots by 524% using Reclaim.ai’s Scheduling Links. After all, 33.6% of professionals manually clear out events to create more availability for their Scheduling Links. However, Reclaim can align meetings with your work and personal commitments.
You can make yourself available for urgent meetings with high-priority scheduling links, be flexible with adjustable meeting durations, coordinate easily with team scheduling links, and even create custom links for unique meetings.
And if you’re still scheduling your one-on-one meetings through recurring meetings on your calendar – check out Smart 1:1 Meetings at Reclaim. You can automatically find the best time for your one-on-ones every week across both attendees schedules, and automatically reschedule around meeting conflicts and PTO.
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