How to design a meeting agenda for an effective team meeting

Is there anything worse than a meeting that has not been properly prepared, where the participants keep going off-track, and everybody feels that nothing has been achieved at the end of the session? Many of these problems can be solved by creating a proper meeting agenda.

An effective meeting agenda helps to set clear expectations for the meeting and what needs to happen, it helps people prepare and allocate time wisely. The goal is to get everyone on the same topic and know when the discussion is complete. It also helps to address any issue that could arise during the meeting itself.

Here are some tips to effectively design a meeting agenda, for small and big teams alike.

  1. Ask for team members’ input

If you want participants to be engaged during a meeting, you need to make sure the agenda reflects their needs. One way to do this is to ask each participant one item they would like to be addressed during a meeting as well as the reason why they think this should be addressed. If you need to select only a number of items, you can go back to team members explaining why you didn’t select their suggestion this time.

  1. Select topics that affect the entire team

As we mentioned previously, you may have to select only a couple of items among the ones that are suggested by your team members. In order to make the most of a team meeting, make sure you choose agenda items that affect the whole team and where the whole team is needed to solve them. These often include situations where individuals must co-ordinate their actions.

  1. Write agenda topics as questions

Most agenda topics are just several words forming a very simple phrase. This leaves topics very vague for participants. If you formulate specific questions your team will have to answer, they will be better prepared and have a better idea of what they need to think about for the mater at hand. Answering a question can end a conversation for the topic, and it limits people going off-topic.

  1. Give topics a purpose

For each topic, it can be useful to note if the purpose is to share information, seek feedback to make a decision or make a decision. Team members might not always know if a topic is simply being discussed, if they need to give their input or if a decision needs to be made. Making the purpose very clear will once again help participants know what is expected of them and engage them more.

  1. Estimate a realistic timing for topics

Team leaders often underestimate the amount of time a discussion can take as part of their meeting preparation. By doing a simple estimation, you can easily see if you have underestimated or overestimated your timing. It also helps participants have an idea of how much time they have to give their comments. Thus the discussions will be kept effective, and the questions can be answered more efficiently.

  1. Set a process for addressing agenda items

Identify which steps the team should go through when addressing an agenda item. Leaders rarely do it, but agreeing on a process can greatly increase meeting effectiveness. Make sure you propose a process at the beginning of a meeting and seek agreement so that all participants know to follow the same process.

It is important to distribute the meeting agenda early enough before your meeting so every participant as the time to read through it and properly prepare. It also gives enough time to suggest improvements or omissions and identify who will be responsible for leading each topic.

You can also end the meeting with a review of the process, check how efficient the meeting and agenda were and how you can improve for next time.

We hope these tips will be helpful for you and your team! If you’re looking for more specific, in-depth advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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