Differences Between Agendas & Meeting Plans
When arranging business meetings, you’ll need to create agendas, itineraries and plans, depending on the length of the meeting and how formal it is. A meeting plan is the more macro of the documents, covering the entire event, while an agenda is a more micro document that helps organize business presentations within the meeting.
Business meetings can last a few minutes or several days, depending on what you want to accomplish. If the meeting is a short one, your planning often is limited to setting the time and method of the meeting, which can include face-to-face, phone call or videoconferencing options. Longer meetings might require planning that includes travel arrangements, accommodations, meeting space, food and beverage, audio-visual and social activities. If you’re arranging a multiday, off-site meeting, it’s best to work with a professional meeting planner or the meeting planner of a hotel or conference center to ensure you have all of the equipment and services you need for an effective meeting.
A conceptual agenda is your purpose for meeting and what you wish to accomplish. For example, if you call a meeting of your accounting department, your agenda might be to find ways to reduce accounts receivable times and bad debt. A written agenda is a chronological listing of a meeting’s structure, including the event’s starting time, listing of specific sessions or topics to be covered, start and stop times for each session and break times. An agenda might include the names and departments or companies of the speakers and a session title. Agendas are usually one-page documents with no descriptions of sessions because their purpose is to let attendees know what the meeting will cover and when and to keep meetings on track.
Often confused with an agenda, an itinerary refers to a broader written list of the structure of a meeting, including where and when all activities will occur. For example, an afternoon meeting in your office would not require an itinerary. A weekend retreat with business meetings, a cocktail party, group dinners and golf would require an itinerary for both spouses and guests.
People who plan meetings professionally handle many important responsibilities and might be certified, depending on the size of the meetings they manage. Some meetings include hundreds of people and cost six figures. Meeting planners visit potential sites, negotiate contracts with venues, sell sponsorships and booths, organize trade shows, handle food and beverage and coordinate spouse, guest and children’s activities, speakers, audio-visual needs and marketing.