Have you ever attended those freestyle meetings where you had no clue about what will be discussed? Such meetings can be frustrating and a waste of time because, without an agenda, the discussions can go off-topic, causing the meeting to run longer than necessary. Also, participants may leave the session feeling that important topics were not covered.
Therefore, knowing how to write a meeting agenda is crucial for a successful meeting, as the agenda encourages participants to come prepared and keeps the meeting on track.
One appalling fact is that even though meetings with clear agendas decrease the meeting time by up to 80%, only 37% of meetings in the United States use agendas.
Explore this article to get valuable tips on writing an agenda for your next meeting and we’ve included meeting agenda templates to get you started right away!
If we have a clear agenda in advance and we are fully present and fully contributing, the meetings do go much faster. -Ariana Huffington, co-founder of Huffington Post
A meeting agenda acts as a blueprint for the meeting that covers the main topics and activities you’d like to accomplish. A well-structured meeting agenda is necessary for a productive meeting. Here are some key advantages of creating an agenda for a meeting.
Provides a clear direction
An agenda makes sure all important topics are covered and serves as a roadmap for the meeting. By distributing it before the meeting commences, all participants will be on the same page. Also, having a clearly defined purpose keeps the discussion focused and to the point.
A clearly defined agenda increases accountability among all the participants. It is because each team member gets the time to check related materials and prepare their talking points before the meeting. It gives them sufficient time to come up with ideas, questions, and considerations.
Improves time management
The meeting agenda allocates appropriate time frames for each agenda item, which helps participants prioritize discussion points and focus on the most critical issues. This, in turn, ensures better time management and productivity.
Preparing a meeting agenda is not a daunting task once you understand the tricks. Follow the steps below, and you will know how to make an effective agenda for a meeting quickly.
To create the agenda for the meeting, define the goal of the meeting and identify your objectives. By establishing a clear focus and purpose, attendees will be better prepared and able to contribute meaningfully to the discussion.
Your goals should be achievable and specific, and describe what you hope to achieve during the meeting. Here is an example:
Generic meeting goal: To discuss the project updates.
Specific meeting goal: To review the progress of the project milestones and identify the required action steps to meet the upcoming deadline.
Remember that the wisdom of the team is often greater than that of one person. Consider involving the team in the meeting agenda creation process — touch base with team members and other stakeholders to determine if there are any specific topics they wish to discuss. This makes sure the agenda truly reflects the needs of the team.
You can then devise a list of topics based on their inputs, the meeting goal, and the type of meeting.
Additionally, the topics should align with the meeting's purpose and objectives. You should also take into account the time allocated for the meeting. It is best to avoid overloading the agenda with too many items.
For a productive meeting, it is essential to structure the meeting agenda properly by grouping similar items and arranging them in a way that they build off one another can help the meeting flow smoothly. Additionally, this will keep the team focused and engaged throughout the session.
An agenda typically includes three categories of items:
Informational items: These items keep everyone updated on important issues. Progress reports, financial updates, or project status are examples of informational items.
Discussion items: These items require discussion and debate among the team members. Examples include brainstorming, problem-solving activities, or decision-making conversations.
Action items: Items that require specific actions or tasks to be completed fall in this category. These items involve assigning tasks, setting deadlines, or establishing follow-up procedures.
To effectively manage your agenda, it's crucial to assign a specific timeframe for each item. It helps ensure that all topics are adequately covered.
Here are some tips for setting time limits:
Have an accurate estimate of the time required for each task; be realistic as overly ambitious time limits can lead to burnout and frustration.
Identify the most important tasks and allocate more time for them.
Regularly review your time limits and adjust them as needed. This will help you to continually improve your time management skills.
Also, if someone other than the host will be facilitating a particular section, be sure to include that information as well. This approach will help keep the discussion on track and ensure all topics are covered within the allocated time frame.
Assessing the required documents supporting the meeting and creating a detailed list is crucial. The documents may include:
Project status reports
Proposals or contracts to be discussed
Sales and marketing reports
Including this list in the agenda helps keep everyone informed, so they bring the required documents for the meeting.
Also, if there is any pre-reading material, such as a presentation deck, the link should be included in the agenda. It will ensure that everyone gets the context of the meeting and crucial time is saved.
It's common for participants to have questions and need clarification, so keeping a buffer at the end of the meeting is helpful. Additionally, summarizing what was discussed during the meeting can benefit everyone.
The time allocated for review can vary depending on the meeting frequency and the amount of information covered. For instance, a weekly meeting may only require five minutes, while a monthly meeting or one with new information may require ten or more minutes.
If you want a tool that creates and tracks your meeting agendas efficiently, Airgram offers a comprehensive set of features.
Recently, I used this platform to craft an agenda for an upcoming meeting. With its built-in notepad, I can easily add items and assign estimated time durations to each agenda item based on their importance, helping us stay on schedule. It also has an action items section to help us write down and track meeting tasks.
Additionally, Airgram allows me to share the agenda in advance with all participants so they can check and comment on the agenda as well as view the latest version.
Here are some factors that you need to consider including while preparing an agenda:
Agenda theme and objective: Write the title and goal of the meeting to help the participant know what this meeting is about at a glance. Keeping it short and clear ensures that everyone knows the purpose of the meeting.
Date, time, and place: You should clearly state when the meeting is and what the duration is. It enables the participants to plan their schedules accordingly. Also, inform the attendees of the meeting's location and whether it will be held virtually or in person.
Participants: List all the people who will be attending the meeting. For the meeting to be successful, invite only the people who will contribute to the discussion and the decision-making process.
Supporting documents (if any): These documents can help provide context and background information to the participants, so they review the materials in advance and come to the meeting fully prepared.
Agenda items: These are the major components of a meeting agenda. The items listed serve as specific points that determine the order and the flow of the discussion. It’s essential to clearly and concisely list all the discussion topics to ensure the participants understand the meeting's focus.
Timeframe: To ensure that your team stays on schedule and smoothly transitions between topics, allocating ample time for each agenda item is vital. One effective way to do this is by estimating the time required for each item and adding a few extra minutes as a buffer. It will enable you to wrap up discussions promptly and move on to the next item without delays.
Action Items: The agenda should have a designated section for attendees to record action items and key takeaways during the meeting. It helps structure and consolidate the discussion outcomes and enables attendees to understand the required next steps clearly. The action items can be anticipated when you prepare the meeting agenda and can be changed during or after the meeting.
Now you know how to create a meeting agenda. Below, we’ve included a sample meeting agenda that you could use for inspiration, taking a quarterly planning meeting as an example:
Time and location:
Quarterly sales report
[✅ Agenda Items]
Review Last Quarter
Check-in on the overall performance, wins, and lessons learned from the last quarter.
Successes and wins
Outline the main company objectives and determine the end goals of this quarter.
List the priorities and to-do's that must get done this quarter.
Determine each member’s roles and responsibilities.
Obstacles and Considerations
Discuss the potential factors happening throughout the quarter that might act as obstacles.
What do we plan to accomplish until the next meeting?
@name Task by DUE-DATE
Creating an agenda for a meeting from scratch can be time-consuming and challenging. So, the Airgram team of meeting professionals provides templates for different types of meetings. You can apply and customize the pre-existing templates accordingly for your needs.
Here are the most popular meeting templates that Airgram offers:
1. Marketing team meeting agenda template
This template is a valuable tool for optimizing performance and ensuring the alignment of marketing goals. Get this template here.
2. Brainstorming meeting agenda template
Facilitate idea generation and ensure the participation of all team members with this agenda template. Get this template here.
3. First one-on-one meeting with new employee template
Establish a positive relationship, set expectations, and make it easy for the new employee to communicate with the help of this template. Get this template here.
4. Quarterly performance review template
Use this template to outline the key performance indicators (KPIs) and goals that employees are expected to meet over a three-month period. Get this template here.
5. Daily Standup meeting agenda template
Promote effective communication, collaboration, and problem-solving among team members with this template. Get this template here.
6. Weekly team meeting agenda template
This template helps you evaluate your team's progress over the past week, plan for upcoming tasks or projects, and encourage collaboration and idea sharing among team members. Get this template here.
7. Project kickoff meeting agenda template
The purpose of this template is to help you start a new project meeting agenda by aligning all the team members on project goals, expectations, timelines, and responsibilities. Get this template here.
Cole is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience. With an educational background in journalism, public relations, and social media, she has a passion for storytelling and providing useful and engaging content.