Want to know something crazy?
The average organization spends 15% of its time in meetings. But surveys show that 71% of these meetings are totally unproductive. Ouch!
The question is, what should you do with this information? You could clear your schedule and stop meeting with all people for any reason. But that’s probably not the best idea.
Instead, simply work to make the meetings you host as productive as possible.
One of the best (and easiest!) ways to boost meeting productivity is to create a meeting agenda before the meeting actually starts. In this article, we’ll show you how.
Keep reading to learn why meeting agendas are so important and how to prepare one in five steps. Then stick around as we share a bang-up meeting agenda template you can use to supercharge your next professional gathering and ensure it’s uber productive.
Do You Really Need a Meeting Agenda?
No, you don’t need a meeting agenda.
You’re free to continue hosting agendaless meetings for the rest of your professional life if that’s what you want. But you won’t experience any of the following benefits…
Agendas allow participants to prepare for the meetings they attend. When participants are prepared, they’ll be able to contribute in more meaningful ways.
Think about it: Bob can’t share updated sales numbers if he hasn’t run them. And he won’t run them unless he knows that he’s supposed to. Enter the meeting agenda. Once Bob sees that he’ll be expected to share sales numbers during next week’s meeting, he’ll take time to crunch the numbers and see where his department stands before he attends your gathering.
Why are most meetings unproductive? Because they lack structure, which leads to distraction. There are two kinds of distraction you need to be aware of:
- Off-Topic Conversations: Structure will keep you and your attendees on topic, which will help you cover the information you need to cover in a more efficient manner.
- Multitasking Employees: Structure will help keep attendees engaged in your meeting, too. When they’re engaged, they won’t be as tempted to check email.
A meeting agenda is a great way to introduce structure into your meetings. Once you create one, your meetings will become much more productive—guaranteed!
A Strong Reference
Lastly, a meeting agenda can be referenced at a later date.
You’ll never have to ask, “What did we talk about last meeting?” again. You’ll simply whip out the agenda you created before the meeting took place and take a gander at it. This will tell you, in a matter of seconds, which topics you covered and which you didn’t.
How to Prepare an Effective Meeting Agenda
Planning the agenda for your next meeting isn’t difficult. In fact, all you have to do is follow these five steps to create an effective meeting agenda that boosts team productivity.
1. Understand Your Meeting’s Purpose
First things first, why do you want to host a meeting?
Make sure that every meeting you host has a specific reason for being. If you can’t come up with one, you should just cancel the get-together as it’s highly unlikely to be productive.
Now, the purpose of your meeting is completely up to you. You could discuss marketing strategy or sales numbers, your company’s financial position or new customer service tactics. It doesn’t matter, as long as you pinpoint your purpose before the meeting starts.
Pro Tip: When you know your meeting’s purpose, you’ll know who to invite to the gathering. Don’t waste an employee’s time by inviting them to a meeting that they can’t contribute to.
2. List the Topics Your Meeting Will Cover
Now that you know your meeting’s purpose, you can list topics that serve it.
If, for example, you want to meet with your team to discuss your company’s approach to content marketing, your topics might include:
- Investing in a keyword research tool
- Hiring a new content writer or two
- Your competitors’ approach to content
- The success of your current YouTube videos
- New topics you’d like your team to blog about
The topics you choose should be written down, in order. That way you know exactly what you and your team will talk about and when during your next meeting.
Pro Tip: Choose meeting topics that pertain to every attendee. Nobody wants to sit through a meeting—or even half a meeting—that has no relevance to them. Especially when they could use that time to complete other work. If you come across an important topic that only pertains to one or two members of your team, simply schedule a second meeting to cover it.
3. Estimate an Amount of Time For Each Topic
Next, take a look at the list of topics you want to cover during your next meeting and estimate the amount of time you’ll need to spend on each. Doing so has a couple of benefits…
First, it will help you estimate the length of your entire meeting. When you and your team know how long your meeting is supposed to be, you can properly plan your days.
Second, it will help you plan a more productive get-together. You may want to cover 10 topics during the meet. But if you only have an hour with your team, you’ll quickly realize that six minutes per topic probably isn’t enough time to make meaningful progress. (And this doesn’t even account for introductions, transitions between topics, attendee questions, etc.)
Pro Tip: It’s better to overestimate the time it will take to cover a topic than to underestimate it. Worst case scenario, your meeting concludes earlier than you expected and your team has more time to complete the other items on their to-do lists.
4. Allow Time For Team Members to Contribute
The best meetings are collaborative. So leave time in your meeting agenda for your team to contribute. Don’t expect to just lecture them for 30 minutes to an hour.
One of the best ways to make your meetings collaborative is to give each meeting topic an owner, i.e. an attendee who will lead a specific aspect of your conversation. This will (almost) guarantee that attendees come prepared and ready to contribute, too.
Pro Tip: Develop a way for team members to contribute to your conversations in productive ways. For small meetings, free wheeling conversations in which attendees speak whenever they feel comfortable might work. For larger meetings, you may want to set aside time at the end of your meeting (or the end of each topic discussion) for attendees to ask questions.
5. Share Your Meeting Agenda 24 Hours in Advance
Finally, make sure you share your meeting agenda with all attendees at least 24 hours in advance. If you can give them more heads up than this, do it. The more time they have to prepare, the more productive your meeting is likely to be.
Fortunately, the agenda for your meeting doesn’t have to be professionally designed. A simple email that lists the topics you plan to cover and the amount of time allotted to each will suffice.
That said, if you do want to make your meeting agendas look pretty, you can use a tool like Fellow, which includes agenda creation, note taking, and action items features.
Pro Tip: Contact each meeting attendee after your meeting, too. This will give you a chance to recap the things you talked about and reiterate each attendee’s next steps.
A Stellar Meeting Agenda Template
Well, we promised you a stellar meeting agenda template… Here it is!
Feel free to “steal” this template, adjust it for your own needs, recreate it so that it works best for you and your team, or otherwise manipulate it any way you see fit.
An Agenda Template For Your Next Meeting
|Agenda Overview||Meeting Host||5 Minutes|
|Icebreaker Activity||Meeting Host||10 Minutes|
|Topic #1||Team Member #1||15 Minutes|
|Topic #2||Team Member #2||15 Minutes|
|Topic #3||Team Member #3||10 Minutes|
|Q&A||Meeting Host||5 Minutes|
As you can see, this meeting agenda template is pretty simple. But that’s the thing! You don’t need to overcomplicate this. Your meeting agenda shouldn’t require a degree in rocket science to understand. It should be simple and straightforward, like the agenda above.
Host Better Meetings Today
There’s no doubt about it, a meeting agenda will make your meetings more productive.
Fortunately, you now know how to create one. Simply take a moment to understand the purpose of your meeting, list the topics you want to cover, estimate a realistic amount of time for each topic, allow time for your team to contribute, and share the agenda ahead of time.
We’ve talked a lot about meetings in this article. So, we’re curious, do you have a reliable way to host them with distributed team members? If not, give ClickMeeting a try.
ClickMeeting is used by tens of thousands of people in 125+ countries around the world. Why is it so popular? Because it’s both easy to use and powerful. Sign up for a free trial today to get access to our platform’s entire suite of industry-leading remote meeting tools.