How to Outline a Meeting Agenda

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An organized and developed meeting agenda ensures that all important subjects get covered at a given meeting. An outline structure helps guide the meeting's direction so that you don't jump from one topic to another, allowing business to be conducted in a more efficient manner. Start your agenda outline well ahead of the meeting so you can create several drafts and send them out to attendees before the meeting to let them know what to expect.

Write down all topics you need to cover at the meeting. Start as broadly as possible. For instance, write down "Scheduling," which may contain several subtopics. Use any notes from earlier meetings, emails and information you have to ensure you have all necessary topics written down.

Communicate with other meeting planners or attendees, and inquire if they have any topics needing attention. Give them a deadline for proposed topics and items so you have time to do any follow-up research or correspondence, if necessary, then insert them into the outline.

Organize your topics. Look for topics that can be placed under a larger topic. If not, go through each general topic, and break that down into specific agenda items. For instance, a production meeting agenda might contain "rehearsal conflicts" and "dates to remember" under the "Scheduling" topic.

Put together your main topics by order of importance. Decide what topics should go first on the outline based on how important they are, how much time you'll need to discuss them and special considerations, such as the person presenting that portion of the meeting needing to leave early, for instance.

Type out your main topics in a vertical list in bold, larger font, around 14- to 16-point font. Indent or tab once and bullet each subtopic directly beneath the main topic. You can number or letter the topics and subtopics as you desire. Include any detailed points underneath each subtopic.

Bullet and indent those items as well, so they sit under the subtopic, just to its right. Most software programs automatically indent, bullet and number when you press "Enter" and "Tab" at the end of a main or subtopic.

Type all necessary meeting information at the top center of the document, including the title and date of the meeting, time, location, invitees or expected attendees and contact information for the meeting organizer, likely yourself.

Write down the name of each topic's presenter next to the main or subtopic, if applicable. Note how much time you're giving each topic. Check with the presenter to make sure you give her enough time.

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