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How to create an agenda

Learn how to write a professional agenda for a meeting

An agenda is simply a written plan of topics to be discussed during a meeting, and every meeting should follow an agenda. A proper agenda will make the meeting more efficient, helping the group achieve better results. Here are some tips on how to write a meeting agenda:

4 steps on how to write an agenda for a meeting:

  1. Select a meeting agenda template
  2. Brainstorm the agenda topics using a mind map
  3. Gather information for writing an agenda
  4. Write the agenda

1 Select a Template to Write the Agenda

Using a meeting template is a great place to start when learning how to write an agenda for a meeting. With millions of meetings held every day, there are a lot of resources available however the variety of meetings can make it tricky to find a perfect template. Fortunately, some meetings are fairly standardized and here are a few examples you can use for inspiration:

  • Board meeting agenda template
  • Staff meeting agenda template
  • Sales meeting agenda template
  • Business meeting agenda template

How to create an agenda

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2 Brainstorm the Agenda Using a Mind Map

Traditionally, agendas are created in MS Word, making it difficult to get an overview of the topics you would like to include in your agenda. Linear programs are not well-suited for brainstorming which is why many people like using mind mapping software to brainstorm agenda topics. Mind mapping allows you to get an organic visual overview of topics that can later be exported to Word as the agenda. When learning how to write an agenda for a meeting, mind mapping may be a useful tool.

How to create an agenda

3 Gather Information for Writing an Agenda

It is important to get input from participants about what they think should be in the meeting agenda, especially if you are writing an agenda for a manager or supervisor. Send out emails or include participants in the agenda topic brainstorming session. There are also meeting management software tools like MeetingBooster, which assist you in writing the agenda in an environment where participants can submit suggestions electronically.

Meetings can belong to a series of meetings which may span over weeks or months, so it is always suggested to review prior meeting minutes to include parked topics or unresolved issues. You will find that often times there are repetitive topics in meetings that belong to a series.

How to create an agenda

4 Write the Agenda

After gathering the information and creating an outline of topics, you can finally start writing an agenda for the meeting. Lots of professionals use a standard Word processor or meeting management software like MeetingBooster to write an agenda. MeetingBooster’s agenda writing module allows you to quickly enter topics, topic durations and include file attachments. Remember to allocate adequate times for important topics.

Learn how to write an agenda with MeetingBooster

Copy to Clipboard

When leading a business meeting, you might be responsible for managing a large number of people and tasks. An effective meeting agenda can help you make sure you discuss all the necessary material, keep the meeting on topic and ensure that your group uses time efficiently. In this article, we’ll cover how to create a meeting agenda that will help you effectively lead any meeting.

What is a meeting agenda?

A meeting agenda is a list of topics or activities you want to cover during your meeting. The main purpose of the agenda is to give participants a clear outline of what should happen in the meeting, who will lead each task and how long each step should take. Having this information before and during the meeting should ensure that it proceeds efficiently and productively.

How to write a meeting agenda

Whether you have a short, one-hour meeting or one that lasts a full day, you can use these steps to help you write an agenda:

Identify the meeting’s goals.

Ask participants for input.

List the questions you want to address.

Identify the purpose of each task.

Estimate the amount of time to spend on each topic.

Identify who leads each topic.

End each meeting with a review.

1. Identify the meeting’s goal

When you start with your goal, you can make sure the purpose of the meeting is clear and every task you want to cover is related to your objective. Make sure to set an achievable goal to keep your meeting as focused as possible. For example, a meeting goal to approve the company’s monthly advertising budget is more attainable than a goal to improve spending overall.

2. Ask participants for input

If you want to keep your participants engaged during the meeting, ask for their input beforehand so you can be sure the meeting fulfills their needs. You can ask them to suggest what topics they would like covered or what questions they have. Once you have a list of ideas from the participants, you can review them and decide which items you’ll ultimately include.

3. List the questions you want to address

Once you know your meeting’s objective and have some ideas about the topics you want to cover, list the questions you need to answer during the meeting. Some meeting agendas simply list a topic as a phrase, for example: “ rental equipment. ” However, you can clarify each agenda item’s purpose by phrasing discussion points as questions. For example, you could write, “ Under what conditions should we consider renting equipment instead of buying it? ” These prompts can ensure you are inviting discussion and gathering all of the information you need for each agenda topic.

4. Identify the purpose of each task

Every task you complete during your meeting should have a purpose. Typically, the three main purposes are to share information, seek input or make a decision. As you’re going through your agenda, make note of the purpose of each task. This step will help meeting participants know when you want their input and when it’s time to make a decision.

5. Estimate the amount of time to spend on each topic

Next, estimate how much time you plan to spend on each task. This part of the agenda ensures you have enough time to cover all of the topics you have planned for your meeting. It also helps participants adjust their comments and questions to fit within the timeframe.

You can optimize your timeframe by giving more time to items you anticipate taking longer to discuss or scheduling items of higher importance earlier in the discussion to ensure vital topics are covered. If you have many people coming to your meeting, you may even limit time on certain topics to streamline the conversation, encourage a quick decision if needed and keep the meeting on schedule.

6. Identify who leads each topic

Occasionally, someone other than the meeting leader will lead the discussion on the topic. If you plan on having other people mediate topics during your meeting, you can identify them under their respective topic. This step helps keep the meeting running smoothly and ensures that everyone is prepared for their responsibilities.

7. End each meeting with a review

Leaving time to end each meeting with a review can help participants better understand what decisions they made and what information they discussed so they can take any necessary steps after the meeting. During this review, you and your meeting participants should also consider what went well during the meeting and what needs improvement. By taking a few minutes to consider these questions, you can make sure your next meeting is even more effective.

Meeting agenda template

Here’s an outline that you can tailor to nearly any type of meeting:

1. Agenda item one description

a. Remarks
b. Remarks
c. Remarks

2. Agenda item two description

a. Remarks
b. Remarks
c. Remarks

3. Agenda item three description

a. Remarks
i. Additional remarks
ii. Additional remarks
b. Remarks
c. Remarks

4. Agenda item four description

a. Remarks
b. Remarks
c. Remarks

5. Agenda item five description

a. Remarks
i. Additional remarks
ii. Additional remarks
iii. Additional remarks
b. Remarks
c. Remarks

6. End of meeting review

a. What did we do well in this meeting?
b. What should we do differently next meeting?

Meeting agenda example

You can use the following sample meeting schedule when crafting your own agenda:

Date: Aug. 1, 2019
Time: 1 p.m.
Location: Conference Room A

*Goals: Review the marketing campaigns from last year, identify seasonal slumps in product demand, brainstorm ways to increase demand during these slumps and make sure we’re prepared for the next marketing campaign.*

1. Review marketing campaigns from last year.

Time: 15 minutes
Purpose: Share information
Leader: Jamal Adams

a. Present the marketing campaigns from last year.
b. Review the sales numbers after each campaign.
c. Identify which campaigns seemed to have the biggest impact.

2. How do we best manage the fluctuating demand for our product?

Time: 30 minutes
Purpose: Decision
Leader: Blair Hanline

a. Review sales numbers from the last four quarters.
b. Identify any trends in sales numbers.
c. Brainstorm ideas on how to increase sales during those slumps.

3. Preparing for the next marketing campaign

Time: 15 minutes
Purpose: Decision
Leader: Blair Hanline

a. What do we need to prepare for the next marketing campaign?
i. Review the attached marketing campaign materials.
ii. Identify tasks for each team member.
b. How will we track the effectiveness of this campaign?
c. Review sales goals for this campaign.

4. End of meeting review

Time: 5 minutes
Purpose: Decision

Leader: Jamal Adams
a. What did we do well in this meeting?
b. What should we do differently next meeting?

Preparation determines whether you will achieve your desired outcomes

How to create an agenda

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How to create an agenda

Susan Heathfield is an HR and management consultant with an MS degree. She has decades of experience writing about human resources.

A meeting agenda is a list of items that participants hope to accomplish at a meeting. The agenda should be distributed in advance of a meeting, minimally 24 hours in advance so that participants have the opportunity to prepare for the meeting. Preferably, if possible, the agenda should be available several days before the meeting. The more time your colleagues have available to prepare for a meeting, the more likely they will attend prepared to participate effectively.

Developing a Meeting Agenda

The first step in developing an agenda is to identify whether other employees are needed to help you plan the meeting. Then, decide what you hope to accomplish by holding the meeting, and establish doable goals for your meeting. The goals you set will establish the framework for an effective meeting plan. Make certain that you have not planned more than is reasonably achievable within the timeframe of your meeting.

As Stephen Covey said in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” “Begin with the end in mind.” Your meeting purpose will determine the meeting focus, the meeting agenda, and the meeting participants.

Then, consider how much time you expect to need for each agenda item. If the meeting is to last one hour and you have five agenda items, that gives you a general idea of the timeframe you’re working with. It doesn’t mean every agenda item must be precisely 12 minutes, but the five combined obviously cannot average more time than that.

Decisions to Make

After determining your overall goal, you or your team need to make certain decisions. In addition to the purpose or goal of the meeting, also include with your agenda:

  • A date, time, and location for the meeting
  • Participants needed in the meeting
  • Items for discussion
  • The amount of time that you anticipate the group will need to discuss each item
  • Pre-work for the meeting. This will include any reading, documentation, data, meeting minutes from a prior meeting, or any other preparation that will make your actual meeting successful. Relevant documents should be attached to the meeting notice and agenda when you distribute them to invited participants.

Identifying Participants

Once you have decided that a meeting is necessary to accomplish your goal, you need to develop a list of participants. Not every employee can or should participate in every meeting, but inviting the right participants will enhance your likelihood of success. Determine your participants by asking yourself some questions:

  • Who must own the solution the group develops?
  • Who owns the process the group is discussing?
  • Who needs to know the information you are distributing?
  • Who can provide data and facts to guide decision making?
  • Who has experience or expertise to share with the group?
  • Who must support the implementation of any solutions or tasks?
  • Who must provide permission or resources to accomplish the meeting outcome?
  • Who might oppose the implementation of any solutions or direction?

Agendas for Regularly Scheduled Meetings

Not every meeting needs a custom developed agenda. Most employees have regularly scheduled meetings for their departments or workgroups. You also have teams and projects in which you participate.

An ongoing project may not require a newly developed agenda for every meeting, but your team will be well served by adopting a standard approach to your meeting. The regularly scheduled employee meeting is divided into three segments for which each has standard agenda items:

Informational items

Write out any agenda items that are informational for every meeting. For example, the manager updates the group on the outcomes of the senior management meeting.

Action items

Place on the agenda any items that you expect the group will want to review at every regularly scheduled meeting. For example, performance to budget for the time period and the identification of cost savings and continuous improvements the group plans to achieve.

Forward planning

Place on the agenda any items that the group wants to plan for or prepare for in advance. For example, the short-term goals for the next month or the need for coworker assistance on upcoming assignments.

If you follow these guidelines when you develop your meeting agenda, you enhance the probability that your meeting will be more productive.

What to Include on Your Meeting Agenda

An agenda for a regularly scheduled meeting can help produce the results you seek by including some basic items:

  • Warm-up and greetings. Consider a brief ice breaker depending on how frequently the group meets. Even in an online meeting, participants may be well served by an icebreaker.
  • Review the meeting’s purpose, agenda, and expected outcomes and product.
  • Review, correct (if necessary), and approve the minutes of the prior meeting.
  • Provide appropriate departmental and company information that the team needs.
  • Review progress on action items, action plans, and commitments. Review group progress on goals.
  • Discuss and make decisions about the agenda items for this meeting.
  • Identify next steps.
  • Identify the purpose, outcome, and agenda for the next meeting.
  • At the end of the meeting, the note taker should review the commitments made by people during the meeting.
  • Identify any assistance needed from people not in the group and assign participants to make contact.
  • Determine who outside of the meeting participants needs to know what and decide how you will accomplish the communication.
  • Distribute minutes within 24 hours of the meeting or immediately if the note taker took them electronically.

The Bottom Line

You can make your online or in-person meetings more effective and more likely to produce the results you seek when you make a detailed agenda. The agenda is the result of your disciplined thinking about the outcomes you desire to achieve. The meeting agenda is the external manifestation of your plan and goals.