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How to Create an Effective Meeting Agenda

We’ve all been to unproductive meetings that are a waste of time and money. If it’s not the right people in the room or unproductive discussions or even a lack of discussion, time spent in meetings isn’t free. A meeting agenda that’s effective will help you meet the goal of the meeting and make it easier to achieve company goals.

A clear and concise agenda helps everyone understand what’s going to happen in the meeting and also helps participants prepare for it. Include the following items in your meeting agenda to ensure it’s effective.

Determine the purpose of the meeting, and then list all anticipated outcomes of the discussion. This will allow you to keep your focus on the most important points and avoid unproductive side-bars.

Define the topics to be discussed for each item. This should include a brief description of the topic, who will be responsible for the discussion and how much time needs to be allocated to the discussion. It’s also helpful to include the location of the meeting and its time zone, particularly for teams that are remote.

If you are group collaboration, you might consider making each agenda item an open-ended question that will be answered by the group (i.e., “What steps do we need to take to rent equipment ?”). Each discussion point could be framed as a question to encourage discussion and know what is expected of the meeting.

Include a process for how you expect each agenda item to be dealt with. This is among the most neglected elements of a meeting and can significantly increase the effectiveness of meetings. A clear process will help participants to decide how to approach a particular topic which could lead to off-topic discussions or even a complete derailment of the meeting. Adding a process will allow attendees to adapt their comments to fit within the time frame or suggest that they have more time for a specific topic.

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