Have you ever sat through a meeting and struggled to keep track of the conversation? Have you attended meetings with many people who don't contribute to the group discussion, or the opposite — monopolizing attention or talking in circles?
A weekly meeting agenda can help mitigate such problems because it provides a structure for participants.
In this article, we'll explain the purpose of an agenda, describe how to create one, and offer some suggestions for a successful meeting agenda.
The purpose of an agenda is to facilitate communication in a meeting. Without clear communication guidelines, many discussions are ruined by participants who get distracted by their own agendas or simply ignore the agenda altogether.
An effective meeting agenda keeps participants focused on the main topic while providing valuable background information on the subject being discussed.
How to create a meeting agenda varies according to the style of the group.
Some groups prefer a formal structure, with each participant asking a question or making a statement and expecting others to respond. Other groups, however, prefer an informal dialogue format for their meetings.
Regardless of how the meeting is structured, it's important that everyone understand what is being discussed and why.
Here are two common examples of weekly meeting agendas:
An agenda sets the stage for a well-planned meeting. It provides for a discussion that is both productive and informative, which will help achieve meeting goals.
The following are helpful tips for creating a successful agenda:
Any successful meeting should put participants in charge of the agenda and allow them to contribute a section or two anywhere in the schedule.
This helps everyone feel as if they have some input into the meeting.
Technically, this is not part of the agenda, per see, but having too much time can encourage group members to linger and go off on tangents that lead nowhere.
It's better to shorten, rather than lengthen, a meeting.
Lengthening meetings can put people at risk of being bored or distracted by side issues. Shortening the meeting, on the other hand, creates urgency and allows participants to feel more involved.
This helps people focus on similar topics and stay in one frame of mind before switching contexts.
This gives people time to think about what they want to say and review any information they may need for their contribution. The agenda will help them be ready when it's time for them to speak up.
This is especially important for novice speakers. By sharing the agenda, you're inviting them into the conversation.
And by allowing everyone to participate, the meeting can be enriched by all participants' backgrounds and experiences, even if their contributions are not as eloquent or effective as others'.
This way, you can prepare your thoughts roughly on what people might have to say instead of waiting for them to say it.
This saves time and allows you to speak more productively because you know what you want to say before the meeting.
Putting people on the spot during a meeting is generally not a good idea, but people will feel better about answering questions if they see them listed in the agenda and will have an opportunity to think about them in advance.
Hear from Bear Douglas, Director of Developer Relations at Slack, on the evolution a team meeting that not only spans two-dozen people, but also the globe, and how they keep the meeting useful:
Depending on whether your weekly meeting is a team meeting, a one-on-one, or a leadership sync-up, your agenda may vary. Use one of the weekly meeting templates here in this post, or combine agenda items from multiple templates to create your own.
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Check-in questions for meetings of all types, including daily stand-ups, project meetings, one-on-ones, icebreakers, and team meetings.