Five Key Elements of an Effective Meeting Agenda
An effective meeting begins with a carefully conceived agenda. An effective agenda is built around key objectives, has input from all team members, is written in the best format for the objectives and team, provides realistic time goals and is followed closely during the meeting.
Before planning the agenda for the meeting, Effective Meetings.com suggests that you write down a one-sentence objective for the meeting such as "By the end of the meeting I would like to have decided on a new widget supplier." This will help you better plan the meeting and establish a benchmark for determining the success of the meeting.
Providing an opportunity for your team to participate in creating the agenda helps ensure that all important topics are covered and that team members think about issues before the meeting. One way is to email participants a week or 10 days before the meeting seeking proposed agenda items. Another option is to develop the agenda yourself, then send it out for feedback before the meeting. When sending out the agenda, include the objective statement at the top.
Meeting agendas can be written in several formats. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food lists several on its website. Common order is the format most often seen. It begins with a call to order, officer reports, old business, new business and adjournment. The information sharing and processing format is similar to common order but labels each item as IS for information sharing -- no discussion needed -- and IP for information processing for those items that require discussion or decision. A variation places those items that require no discussion into a consent agenda, but this should be done only with those items for which information has been distributed in advance. Priority agendas place items in order of importance.
An important function of an agenda is to keep the meeting running on time. Regardless of which format is chosen, realistic time goals should be established and printed on each part of the agenda. Allow for some social interaction at all meetings for teambuilding despite time constraints. One way to do this might be with a check-in time at the beginning.
The final key to an effective agenda is to follow it during the meeting.