A clear agenda makes your virtual meetings effective.
Creating an agenda is a simple way to elevate a meeting. It serves as a compass that moves all attendees in a productive direction. Failing to include one is sure to sabotage your meeting’s effectiveness.
In this article, I’ll share why a meeting agenda is important, and the core components that make one impactful.
The Importance Of A Meeting Agenda
A meeting agenda outlines the purpose of each meeting. It guides attendees through important topics, keeps everyone focused on priorities, and improves the flow of communication.
Here’s what happens when you don’t make a clear agenda:
- Meeting participants aren’t prepared to contribute to the conversation.
- People easily get distracted, veer off on tangents, and waste time.
- Attendees leave the meeting feeling unproductive and unclear about the next steps.
A meeting without an agenda is like building a house without a blueprint. There’s no vision.
Author and entrepreneur Stephen Covey explains why having a clear vision matters:
“People are working harder than ever, but because they lack clarity and vision, they aren’t getting very far. They, in essence, are pushing a rope with all of their might.”
Creating a vision for the meeting and preparing an agenda have the following benefits:
- It empowers your attendees to come prepared and add value.
- It boosts morale and gets everyone excited to implement.
- It improves communication and collaboration.
So what makes an agenda impactful? Continue reading to learn what to include in your next meeting.
What To Include In A Meeting Agenda
Each meeting has a different purpose. But there are best practices you can follow when preparing an agenda.
Here are key sections to include:
- Agenda Overview
- Key Talking Points
- Final Q&As
- Next steps
Take these suggestions and customize them for your meeting purposes.
Introduction: Set The Tone
Establish a positive atmosphere at the outset of every meeting. This sets the tone.
Attendees begin entering the room. Some may be lower energy, sipping their morning brews. Others may be nervous or shy. Within the first few minutes, you have an opportunity to set a positive tone and create a safe meeting environment.
This sets the stage for free-flowing communication, a willingness to contribute, and creativity.
Start the conversation on a positive note, and watch how the meeting flourishes.
Agenda Overview: Communicate Clear Intent
As the meeting starts, everyone’s thinking: “Why am I here?”
Though the purpose of the meeting seems obvious to you, others may not be clear on it. It pays to clearly express “why” the meeting is happening. And it’s also a nice reminder for anyone who’s forgotten, helping them mentally prepare for the conversation.
Attendees feel reassured when they understand the purpose of the meeting. No one wants to waste time. And giving a brief overview of the agenda accomplishes this.
Simply summarize the key talking points, and why they matter.
The agenda overview helps you manage expectations from the start.
Key Talking Points: Share Important Topics
Once you’ve given your overview, start with your first talking point.
Meeting agenda items will vary depending on your unique goals and situation. But we can place most of them into three categories:
- Action Items
Updates. The purpose of updates is to share key information and ideas with meeting participants. For goals and objectives to be accomplished, everyone needs to be on the same page and share meaningful information. For instance, a software engineer may need to update the marketing team on product features and timelines.
Feedback. Providing feedback improves work quality, and it gives meeting attendees clarity on completing tasks. Maybe your marketing team wants to present a few campaign ideas. Giving them feedback will result in higher-quality ideas and a clearer direction.
Action items. An action item is a task that must be completed outside of the meeting. There will be incomplete tasks creating a bottleneck for a project or goal. And covering action items allows you to manage expectations around what needs to be completed, who’s responsible, and when it’s due.
Be open to thoughts, questions, or concerns as you share each topic. This encourages open dialogue and collaboration.
Final Q&As: Remove Any Confusion
Open the floor to questions after covering key talking points. That way, meeting participants can remove any confusion.
If there are lots of questions, set a limit so you can end the meeting on time.
Next Steps: Clarify Action Plan
A lot gets discussed by the end of a meeting. Don’t let it go to waste—clarify the next steps.
Go around the virtual room, and have your meeting attendees share what they’re going to work on. And encourage them to prioritize tasks in order of importance.
This does two things:
- Sharing your action plan gets everyone in sync before leaving the meeting.
- Articulating your “next steps” helps you clarify your tasks and priorities.
A clear understanding of the "next steps" will allow you to end the meeting on a productive note.
Your Next Steps:
We discussed how a meeting agenda can facilitate an effective meeting. A little planning ahead will help your collaborations reach new heights.
Want more tips for having an effective virtual meeting? Check out our article on the 4 virtual meeting mistakes that will sabotage your team’s effectiveness.
And once you’re clear on the purpose of your meeting, use Undock to create an agenda when you schedule a meeting. It’s free!