As an executive assistant, part of your job is to work out the details so that your executive can focus on the bigger picture. An essential part of this is meeting preparation, including creating effective meeting agendas.
Why are Meeting Agendas Important?
Effective meeting agendas are important because they establish expectations and keep meetings focused. They increase a team’s productivity and ensure that everyone involved is on the same page. Well-designed agendas clearly outline what to prepare before a meeting and what will occur during a meeting. This, in turn, allows teams to see what action items need to occur after a meeting.
Follow these tips to create your own effective meeting agendas.
1. Define a Clear Objective
Holding a meeting without a clear objective is like boarding a plane without a destination. To determine a clear objective start with your “destination” or goal in sight. It will help determine what topics to discuss, will keep the meeting focused, and will allow your team to use their time more efficiently. Meeting participants will understand why the meeting is being held and why they should attend.
Pro Tip: A great way to include the team in this stage of the process is reaching out to meeting participants to ask for their input on what topics to include for discussion.
2. Create an Outline
Deciding on a destination is only the first step when planning a trip. Likewise, a well-crafted agenda will outline which topics to discuss. Planning out the details takes the guesswork out of how to use your meeting time. Once you’ve determined which topics to discuss, outline them on the agenda. Try posing each topic as a question to encourage participants to think through their comments before the meeting. For example, instead of listing “Q3 Goals” on the agenda, try “Are we prepared to hit Q3 goals?”
This approach will allow participants to come better prepared for the meeting with well-thought-out comments and recommendations. It will also clarify whether to share information before a meeting, such as memos or reports.
3. Identify Who Will Lead Each Topic
Meetings are more successful when all participants engage in the topics discussed. Invite team members to lead discussion topics when their work is connected to that topic on the agenda. If a team member is assigned a topic, state this on the agenda. This ensures that the person assigned to lead the topic is aware of it and can prepare for it before the meeting.
4. Set Clear Time Limits
It is a challenge to bring together busy teams for a meeting. It requires that participants move their schedules around to prepare and be present. To show consideration for their time it is important to set clear time limits. Determine how much time to set aside for the meeting, so that team members don’t block out an hour when 30 minutes will suffice. Also, to ensure that meetings start and end on time, state how much time each presenter has to speak next to their assigned topic. This helps create a structure for the meeting and will allow participants to adjust their comments if needed.
5. Wrap It Up
Include a wrap-up section at the end of the meeting agenda, about 5 minutes before the meeting should end. This gives participants a space to share any final thoughts and ensures that the meeting ends on time. It’s also a great idea to include a space for notes at the end of the agenda. Participants can jot down questions that may take the meeting off track to address at a later time, as well as comments shared at the meeting and any action items that may arise.
A well-crafted meeting agenda is a powerful way to increase productivity and reach organizational goals. Using these tips to create meeting agendas can help your team stay focused and get more out of their meetings.