According to recent studies, a vast majority of employees spend up to 1/3 of the work week in meetings. And this number could be over 50% if you’re in a management position.
Here’s another shocking statistic: Executives consider 67% of meetings to be unproductive. Despite spending so much time in meetings, many of these end up being a waste of time.
While you can’t get rid of meetings (a mission impossible!), you can always take initiative to make your meetings more productive and reclaim your time.
So, how do we take meetings from “meh” to magical?
One simple way is to ensure that every meeting has an agenda to bring structure and keep everyone on the same page.
In this article, we’ll show you how to craft a meeting agenda, and share 10+ ready-made meeting agenda templates that you can start using today. Let’s dive in!
A meeting agenda is a list of topics to be discussed or activities to be accomplished during the meeting. The agenda also clarifies the order in which these activities or topics will be taken up, as well as the amount of time allocated for each. In some cases, it can also include the person responsible for each agenda item.
The meeting agenda can be as simple as a few bullet points, or highly detailed with descriptions and expected outcomes for each agenda item, depending on the nature and purpose of the meeting.
Having an agenda for your meeting is important for the following reasons.
Ensures that there is a clear purpose and objective for the meeting
Gives the attendees advance notice of what will be discussed during the meeting and allows them to prepare
Provides clear expectations for what will happen before, during, and after the meeting
Helps keep the meeting on track with all key topics get covered
Makes it easier to manage time during the meeting
Regardless of the format of the meeting, there are a few steps you can follow when writing a meeting agenda. Start experimenting with these to see what works for you and your team!
1. Set an objective
First and foremost – why are you having the meeting? Could the information be distilled down to an email, or would a meeting be the most beneficial format? Step one in writing a meeting agenda is thus to identify a clear objective.
2. Identify the meeting type
When you know the objective of the meeting, it’s time to decide which format is best suited.
A well-written agenda clearly states the type of meeting the participants will be attending. This avoids confusion and allows the attendees to prepare for the meeting. Just imagine the feeling of being invited to what you thought was a team meeting but turned out to be a one-on-one session!
3. Include meeting details
Provide the key details about the meeting, including the date and time, the location, whether it’s an offsite or virtual meeting, and the list of attendees.
You can also use this chance to mention any documents the attendees need to read before the meeting or items they need to bring to the meeting.
4. List the agenda items
This is the body of the meeting agenda. Here, you should highlight the talking points or activities that will be covered during the meeting.
It’s also a good practice to give an estimate of how long you expect each talking point or activity to take. It does require a thorough understanding of the topics at hand from you as a manager/meeting host – don’t be afraid of asking the participants for an estimation if you’re not an expert in the topic.
5. Ask for input
When you have finished the first draft of the agenda, it’s suggested to share it with all participants for input and questions beforehand to ensure nothing important has been left out and increase engagement.
That way, everyone feels like they’re contributing, and what’s on one person’s mind is likely to be something others have wondered about as well.
Pro tip: Use a meeting agenda software to draft and collaboratively develop an agenda with team members easily. It can also keep track of the meeting time to avoid procrastination.
6. Decide who leads each point
Are you covering all the topics, or are the participants responsible for the distinct points? Make sure you know who is in charge of what is ahead of the meeting.
We know you’re short of time and eager to get started with more efficient meetings now. So here are some meeting agenda templates to copy and paste and tailor for your own needs. The below free meeting agenda templates can be adapted for common types of meetings simply.
You can directly check out this template collection page for even more free templates (50+) that apply to different meetings.
Weekly team meetings evaluate last week’s performance and align everyone with the overall mission and goals for the coming week.
Company news update
Priorities next week
A one-on-one meeting is held between a manager and an employee. The goal is primarily to provide a dedicated time to exchange feedback, and secondary, to check how the work is going. Alignment with long-term visions and goals is also part of a one-on-one meeting.
Follow-ups from last week
What has been accomplished and what could have been done better?
Priorities until the next meeting
An all-hands meeting is a company-wide gathering organized by upper management to share updates and discuss the most-important company-wide issues.
It usually covers the below topics:
Business update: celebrate wins with all
Daily standups are a common form of meeting for teams working with agile/scrum methodology. This implies working on sprints and finishing tasks within a sprint (usually 1-2 weeks).
The meeting is often held as a brief round-table update (15 minutes) in the morning. Standing up intentionally creates a certain level of discomfort and urges participants to quickly get to the point.
The aim is not deep discussions or long-term planning – but to assure everyone is on the same page, is keeping up, and solves any problems or issues. Problem-solving in daily standups is often a quick procedure due to the frequent nature of the meetings.
What did I accomplish yesterday?
What will I do today?
What is blocking my progress?
When working with scrum methodology, the entire project is divided into chunks called sprints. A sprint planning meeting kicks off a new sprint and is usually held every week or every other week.
During such a meeting, the product owner, scrum master, and scrum team decide upon the overall goal for the coming sprint. They review the sprint retrospective meeting closing the last period and break down the overall goal into items with specific assignees.
Review the last sprint retrospective meeting – What did we learn? Which backlog items remain?
Decide sprint goals – What is the team committed to completing during this sprint?
Check product backlog items – Which product backlog items should we complete this sprint?
A sprint review meeting occurs at the end of each sprint where developers demonstrate the new features they have worked on.
Unlike other scrum meetings, key stakeholders, such as the end users, are welcome to join the sprint review meeting so that the development team and the product manager can gain straightforward insights into a better product.
Below are the topics to cover in a sprint review meeting:
Completed tasks – Go through what you have accomplished and be open to feedback
Product demo – The developers demonstrate new product features
Product backlog – The product owner checks whether the completed tasks correspond to the product backlog from the sprint planning meeting
Feedback – Everyone is invited to comment/provide feedback
Potential product backlog items – Are there any remaining backlog items?
A performance review is held on a less frequent basis than many other types of meetings. It’s usually organized quarterly, twice a year, or yearly and aims to evaluate performance as a basis for salary estimation.
This template is used to facilitate the conversation when a manager discusses the final review results with employees.
Overall assessment – Give overall feedback from perspectives like achievements, team collaboration, work ethics, etc.
Performance against goals – If the employee has met pre-set goals.
Areas for improvement – Identify any growth opportunities.
Future goals & expectations
A brainstorm is a more free-flowing form of meeting where team members can come up with new, creative ideas and solutions.
Establish guidelines for the session
Free brainstorm time
Discussion and vote on ideas
Improve on the ideas
A skip-level meeting is a one-on-one session where a manager's manager meets directly with an employee, without the direct manager in attendance.
It aims to bridge the gap between top-level managers and the rank and file by listening to their feedback.
Icebreakers – A quick check-in with the employee to break the ice.
About the company – Open discussion on the organization’s future development and potential challenges.
Employee feedback – Listen to employees’ feedback about the company, the team, and their manager.
Discuss career growth – Get to know the employee’s career goals and give advice.
For managers, the first one-on-one meeting with employees is essential to leave a good impression. It provides a chance to get the employee familiar with the new team and set future expectations.
Roles and responsibilities
Anything else to know
Strategic planning is an executive meeting where high-level managers sit together for hours to brainstorm and decide actionable strategies to achieve the company’s goals.
It naturally covers the below items:
Setting the stage
Visions, values, and mission statement
A sales meeting is a kind of team meeting where the sales team members meet regularly to discuss pending deals, track sales goals, and decide on priority work.
Here are 7 topics to cover in your sales meeting agenda:
Round table updates
Success story sharing
The OKR methodology has now been widely adopted in organizations to replace the traditional KPIs for its flexibility. In such cases, we need an OKR planning meeting to discuss and set the OKR goals for the quarter so everyone stays aligned.
Brainstorm to generate ideas
Discuss objectives and KRs
Final OKR set
A meeting starts well ahead of its official start time and date. There’s work to do before and after to ensure the meeting actually increases productivity and thus generates more revenue.
That said, it doesn’t have to be complicated. These simple free meeting agenda templates take out the guesswork and assist you in the prep work.
Copy and paste the template of your choice and apply it directly - here’s to running powerful, efficient meetings that everyone appreciates！
Michael started his career as a product manager and then developed a passion for writing. He has been writing on technology, remote working, productivity, etc., hoping to share his thoughts with more people.