Let’s admit it: we’ve all been in team meetings that come without clear purpose and thus being a waste of time for everyone.
A survey by Salary.com also reported that 47% of workers said ‘too many meetings are the No. 1 time-waster’ at the office.
Though we can’t eliminate team meetings (neither is this possible), we can, however, make the meetings more productive and organized using a team meeting agenda - a powerful weapon that creates consistency throughout the meeting.
Our meeting professionals have created this guide to help write an effective team meeting agenda and list several meeting agenda examples to get you started quickly.
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“If we have a clear agenda in advance and we are fully present and fully contributing, the meetings do go much faster.”
– Arianna Huffington, the co-founder of Huffington Post
A meeting agenda is an organized document that contains the specific details of a meeting that let people what will happen and when. It serves as a roadmap to ensure that all the essential topics are covered during a team meeting and helps to keep the meeting focused and on track.
A well-crafted staff meeting agenda helps you to:
Have a cohesive discussion without wasting time.
Simply put, a team meeting agenda helps you make the best of your time. Now that we’re working remotely or in a hybrid environment, on the rare occasions you get everyone together; a meeting agenda ensures you talk about what’s critical instead of drifting off into side conversations.
Give everyone a sense of control.
Sometimes it feels like only managers and supervisors control the agenda and duration of a meeting. A team meeting agenda that asks for input from team members can give everyone a sense of control as they will share ideas about what should be discussed, thus creating an inclusive environment.
Allow your team to prep ahead of time.
The meeting organizer should share the staff meeting agenda at least one day before the meeting date by attaching it to your meeting invite email. That way, all participants will have an overview of the topics to be discussed and come prepared with questions or ideas, making the meeting more productive.
To make it more effective, you can collaboratively develop a meeting agenda with team members using a tool like Airgram (my team uses it for weekly meetings, with everyone inputting their weekly progress before the meeting commences). This saves time and starts the collaboration process even before you get on a call.
Whether your meeting is a formal weekly gathering or a brainstorming session, it’s not enough to write down a simple list of topics, a most thorough agenda for team meetings should include the below items to keep everyone on the same page:
Meeting’s date, time, and location. Illustrate clearly when and where the meeting is held. If it’s a virtual team meeting, you should also specify the time zone and the meeting link.
Attendee list. Specify who should attend the meeting so you can track who is not at present when the meeting begins.
The meeting objective. Knowing the meeting goals gives participants insight into what is expected. It’s also the criteria against whether the meeting is successful or not.
Discussion items and estimated time slot. This is the core part of a meeting agenda. List all the topics and set a time duration to set the pace for the meeting and keep it organized.
Next steps. Leave space in the agenda to write down the action items as the meeting moves forward.
Now you know what the essential items in a team meeting agenda are, this section will guide you through the detailed steps to create one, including tips that help facilitate your agenda creation process.
Have you ever thought about the purpose of a meeting before organizing it? Do you want to share information? To come up with a solution to a problem? To review the project?
The meeting objective is the end goal we want to achieve, and having a clear one ensures that the meeting stays focused and stands a higher chance of being productive.
Make sure that the objective is:
Focused on one thing
Clear and straightforward
For example, the meeting’s objective can be “Decide the priority work for the next quarter.” The fact is, if you can’t even recognize the purpose of the meeting, this meeting might just be an email.
A great meeting agenda covers all the essential topics. When creating an agenda, items can be classified into three main categories: information, discussion, and action items.
Information items are those that need to be shared with the group, such as announcements or updates.
Discussion items are those that require input from everyone in the group, such as brainstorming ideas or making decisions.
Action items are tasks assigned to specific individuals that should complete before the meeting, for example, giving a presentation.
When listing the items, we should also be specific and let attendees follow along easily. Using verbs instead of noun phrases will better inspire action.
What’s more, an interesting discovery finds that “items that are put first receive more attention”; therefore, we should always organize the agenda items by priority.
Assigning a topic leader for each item on the agenda will ensure that each topic is covered thoroughly. Having a designated topic leader also allows for more efficient use of time, as each team member will be responsible for preparing for their assigned topic in advance.
Lisa Richards, CEO of the Candida Diet, says, “One of the most important things you can do to create a successful team meeting agenda is to make sure that you have a clear understanding of what each team member's responsibilities are during this meeting and to communicate the same to each member. When people know what is expected of them during meetings, they are more likely to come prepared and ready to contribute and collaborate effectively.”
To choose a topic leader, simply identify who in the group is most knowledgeable about or interested in the subject matter. Then, provide them with an overview of what you would like covered during the meeting.
Admit it, we have prolonged meetings, and participants tend to get frustrated when the meeting lasts longer than expected. That’s why you need to give an estimated duration of the meeting and keep it within the time frame, and the best way to do so is to give an allotted time for each agenda topic.
There are two different ways to estimate the time for each topic.
One approach is to base the estimate on the importance of the topic. For example, a vital topic will require a lot of discussion and may take up to 30 minutes, while a less important issue may only need 5-10 minutes.
Another approach is to base the estimate on the length of the presentation. For example, if a presentation is 15 minutes long, you may want to allow for 30 minutes of discussion time.
You can have better control over what is discussed and avoid unnecessary delays by estimating the time for each agenda item.
Colin Toh, founder & CEO of Headphonesty, says, “Having a quick recap at the end of the meeting helps to ensure that everything is covered and nothing important was missed. It can also be valuable to people who joined the meeting late and might have missed something in the beginning.”
As any good meeting planner knows, it is always important to end by outlining the next steps. Be as specific as possible to avoid confusion and ensure that the task can be completed.
This ensures that no one forgets what needs to be done and creates a sense of urgency.
Outlining the next steps also help to create accountability and ensure that everyone is following through on their commitments.
By asking team members if they think anything needs to be added to the agenda, you can identify missing topics and any areas of confusion or disagreement. Asking for input also gives people a chance to think about any questions they might have.
This behavior shows that you value everyone's input and are committed to making the meeting as productive and efficient as possible.
Finally, don’t forget to review the meeting agenda at the end of the meeting and discuss what could be improved. As questions like “Do we include the necessary agenda topics?” or “Is the meeting’s objective clear?” This will help you build a more effective discussion next time.
There are various types of team meetings, and creating an agenda from scratch every time may rack your brains. In this case, a meeting agenda template is of great help.
The Airgram team has done detailed research and offered 30+ agenda templates for different meetings, including weekly team meetings, all-hands meetings, OKR planning, and more. You can simply apply the agenda and customize it to your needs.
Moreover, Airgram allows you to create a new meeting agenda and save it as your own template for future use.
While the specific items included in the agenda will vary depending on the team and the project, these are common talking points we cover in a team meeting:
Company announcements and updates
Wins and celebrations
Below are the three most-popular team meeting agenda templates you could use for inspiration.
Most teams have weekly meetings to update on the team’s progress and goals and determine priority work for the coming week.
Daily standup, as an agile method, is commonly used to keep the project running smoothly by having a 10-minute gathering every day, usually in the morning.
All-hands meetings are a chance for the entire organization, leaders and employees, to get together and hear about what's happening. They're also an opportunity for employees to ask questions and give feedback.
Learning how to run meetings that produce results is essential to being an effective team leader. Our guide can help you do just that by giving you a structure for creating a team meeting agenda and templates.
Final tip: If you or your team members find it difficult to take notes and keep up with the meeting, we have a solution for you. Record and live transcribe your meetings with the Airgram tool so that you can stay engaged in your meetings without splitting your attention to taking notes. Once the meeting is over, you will get a full video recording and transcript that include every detail.
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.