A focused meeting agenda can improve your meetings and help keep the attendees engaged in the presented information. We’ve all been through those unorganized meetings that often go over their time limit. After about an hour, it becomes difficult to listen to an unorganized speaker and the information goes in one ear and out the other. Here are some tips to help you create a focused meeting agenda and make your meetings more effective.
1. Use A Template
If you’ve never written a meeting agenda before, it can be difficult to start from scratch. You’ll likely be unsure what or who to include in your meeting. That’s where conference agenda templates come in.
Templates provide a much-needed blueprint for the inexperienced agenda writer. Going at it head first with no sense of direction creates those unorganized meetings that everyone loathes, where the speaker drones on and on and a percentage of the attendees end up dozing off.
Use your template to figure out who needs to attend the meeting, what the objectives of your meeting will be, where and when it will take place, and how long it will be. Once you’ve mapped out these important details, you can email your agenda to the participants and ensure that everyone is prepared.
2. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
A famous author by the name of Henry David Thoreau once said: “Life is frittered away by detail; simplify, simplify”. Thoreau was correct in his statement, that detail tends to rule our lives and we could all benefit from a little simplicity. This concept applies to your meeting agenda as well. The more simple the agenda, the more effective your meeting will be.
While you need certain details on the subject matter, be sure that you’re not including too much detail. An agenda is simply an overview of the meeting, not the actual meeting itself. You don’t need to provide any more detail than is necessary to explain the concept of the meeting.
Simplicity is often mistaken for lack of information. This is simply not the case. A simple sentence can relay as much information as an overly-detailed paragraph. Keep your agenda simple, and the subject matter simple for your meetings as well.
Your attendees will be grateful for the simplicity once you’re all in a room together listening to a speaker. Simplicity makes retention of information easier as well, so your meetings will become more efficient at helping employees retain the information that was presented.
3. Discuss The Agenda With The Attendees
Once you’ve completed your agenda, you’ll want to send it to the expected attendees at least a few days in advance. Ask for feedback or suggestions on the subject matter, or to help make the meeting more efficient.
Feedback is how we improve. The opinions of our peers are extremely valuable, and your meeting agenda may very well be missing a very important detail that you missed. Sharing and discussing it with your colleagues will ensure you’ve included everything and everyone that should be included.
When you include your attendees in the creation of the meeting agenda, they’re much more likely to remain engaged throughout the meeting, especially if a concern of theirs is discussed therein. They’ll feel included as a part of the planning process, and therefore more apt to retain the information.
4. Ask For Help
If you’re struggling with your agenda, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Someone in your organization has most likely created a meeting agenda before and should be willing to assist you in creating yours.
Help can come in many forms, not just from your colleagues. There are guides online, including forums and even instructional videos on creating effective meeting agendas. It just takes a little research to find the help you need to get your agenda off the ground.
For example, this Reddit thread contains a visual example of creating an effective meeting agenda, as well as user feedback and advice from people who’ve used the guide to create their own agendas.
5. Use An Agenda For Every Meeting
Nothing improves your abilities like practice, which is why you should use an agenda for every meeting. Practicing creating effective meeting agendas will help improve your meetings and gain the respect of your colleagues.
Everyone can appreciate a short, concise meeting that says everything it needs to without dragging on for what feels like forever. Each time you create an agenda, compare it to the previous one. Note where you can improve, where you have improved, and any goals you’d like to accomplish.
The best part about meeting agendas is they’re universal to every kind of meeting, and meetings of every size. Whether you’re hosting a small employee meeting or a large conference call or seminar, a good agenda can provide the necessary roadmap to make your meeting effective.
Writing meeting agendas isn’t rocket science, but for the inexperienced beginner, it can prove a difficult task. Using a template will help you navigate some of the learning curves, and practicing by using an agenda for every meeting will solidify your knowledge and help you improve. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or go online to search for examples or instructions on creating the perfect agenda. Remember that a good agenda can be the difference between an engaging meeting and one that puts everyone to sleep.