How many hours a week do you spend in meetings? How valuable are such meetings? How many of your meetings require a follow-up meeting?
Reflect on these questions for a minute.
There’s a good chance that you spend more than twenty hours a week on meetings. There’s also a high chance that you dislike attending them.
Unstructured meetings are energy drainers. The good thing is that with a bit of discipline, you can get out of the draining meeting trap. This article will help you write an effective meeting agenda to keep you and your team on track.
A meeting agenda defines the session and how it will be conducted. It sets expectations and brings structure, avoiding confusion and optimizing efficiency. Setting a meeting agenda is simple.
In general, meetings have:
Although the above might be obvious, sometimes it becomes unspoken, and that’s where the problem lies. However, a simple meeting agenda can get you out of it.
Meetings share common traits, but are not all the same. Some sessions are creative, whereas others strategic or operational. There are two main types of meeting agendas — ideation 90 and board meeting 120.
For ideation, after exploring the problem space of a particular domain, the team gets together to come up with ideas. The meeting agenda might look something like this:
With a board meeting, every week, the board gets together to align on the most critical operational issues to address and act accordingly. You could write up an agenda like this:
Note that both meetings are pretty different. The ideation session structures what happens, whereas for the board meeting, topics are prioritized during the session. It’s important to understand the goal of the meeting and then define the best-fitting agenda for it.
Preparing for meetings can be pretty simple when a format is followed throughout the company. Over the years, I’ve learned that bad meetings share common characteristics. They tend to lack an objective, and participants are unaware of how the meeting will unfold.
To write good meeting agendas, make sure to cover the following:
By doing the above, participants will be aware of what to expect. Ideally, you would share the meeting agenda at least a day before so participants have time to reflect. In recurrent meetings, the topics are often set dynamically. In this case, it’s fine to add topics by the end of the day before the meeting takes place so all the participants have a chance to look at the agenda beforehand.
To help simplify the process of creating a meeting agenda, you can use this template that I developed:
The template focuses on the critical aspects of most meetings. By feeling it out, you can reach a minimum level of clarity that reduces the chances of having draining sessions.
Before the meeting, you won’t have notes for each topic or action, but you can add key notes for each topic during the meeting.
Nowadays, you can have multiple meeting agenda formats. You can have a more traditional approach where you document everything separately and then share it with participants for approval, or you can also have it digitally available for everyone whenever they want.
The agendas that work best focus on structure and cohesion. I like using Google Docs or Confluence because of the search function. Whenever I want to find something, I can quickly search and refresh my memory.
Energy-draining meetings are mainly avoidable. Here are three tips to make your meeting agendas engaging and valuable:
Bad meetings are avoidable and good meetings are plannable. When you take the time to do your homework, you save a lot of time for everyone. Just by implementing a simple meeting agenda, you can save energy and time.
Here are the takeaways from this article:
Featured image source: IconScout
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