How to Create an Effective Meeting Agenda

A well-planned agenda for meetings is essential for every type of gathering, ranging from a discussion with a coworker to a large group to discuss organizational goals and issues. A well-crafted agenda will keep everyone on track and focused and will increase productivity for all participants and the entire group.

Define the goals of each agenda item. By defining what the purpose of each item, participants are aware of what to expect from the meeting and adapt their participation accordingly. Clarity in meeting objectives assists in ensuring that the meeting does not diverge from its original goal, and is therefore more likely to be a success.

For each goal, you must state clearly how the desired outcome will be achieved. You can state whether the goal is to gather information, make a decision, or to share information. It could also include describing the procedure used to achieve the objective including seeking consensus or the possibility of a vote.

Provide an estimated time for each agenda item. By providing an estimated time, attendees can prepare for the discussion. They can also adjust their participation accordingly. It also lets leaders decide if additional time is required, or if the goal can be achieved in a shorter time.

Include "parking lots" items on your agenda. Parking lots are an opportunity to record important ideas, conversations, or topics that are related to the topic at hand but not essential to be discussed during the meeting. This method can prevent meetings from getting slowed down due to unrelated conversations. It is particularly beneficial for virtual meetings.

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