Business Meeting Agenda Template

In meetings do you find yourself asking:

  • Why am I here?
  • What is it trying to achieve?
  • When will it end so you can do something meaningful?

If you do, have you considered what causes you and others to have such attitudes?

It comes down to ‘poor preparation’. When the individuals in a meeting begin to feel bored and lose interest, it is because the discussions are unfocused. The meeting itself lacks purpose and those attending have no reason to be inspired or engaged.

To avoid your meeting becoming time wasting distractions make sure you identify and communicate the desired outcome or question to be answered at the outset. Everyone involved must feel that they have something to contribute and that the time and resources they commit have been worthwhile.

Research has shown that professionals attend, on average, over 60 meetings a month! That is two meetings per day! If the average meeting lasts an hour and a half that’s three hours every day you spend in this activity. Everyone’s workload means that they have to spend their time on activities where they are effective and achieve the required objective.

Five Questions to Ask

Five simple questions will ensure that you and anyone in your team only attend meetings that have been properly prepared for and will be an effective use of your time. In turn, you can ask these same questions of your own meetings to ensure that they are productive activities and that everyone who comes is properly prepared for the meeting.

A well-planned agenda is the foundation for a productive meeting and has five distinct purposes, each of which has implications for organizational efficiency and for maintaining good relations with your co-workers and team members. This free agenda template explains how to set an agenda to make your meeting a success.

What is the Purpose?
There has to be a specific purpose for bringing everyone together. You have to realize that anyone you ask to attend has a full work schedule. They cannot afford to be wasting time over meetings that don’t produce any results. So make sure your purpose is clearly identified and communicated. By having a clear purpose and goal in your mind from the start you will set the right environment for a successful meeting.

Why you need a Business Meeting Agenda Template

Does the Agenda define the action plan?
Keeping any discussion focused and well thought through is imperative and you can guarantee this by having an action plan laid out well in advance. This action plan is recognizable as your agenda. It defines the reason for the meeting and what it objective is. If you want to learn more about producing an effective agenda download our free Meeting Agenda Checklist.

Most importantly it needs to outline the nature of the discussion, including any presentations required to bring all participants up to speed. People need to know whether you are going to invite debate or just want to clarify a situation.

A good agenda must be supported by a strong lead from the meetings chair. This ensures that discussions are summarized, decisions can be made and actions agreed.

Whoever is the chair needs to guide the meeting so that its stated outcome is achieved. The advice and guidance included in our free eBook Chairing a Meeting will help ensure that you are an efficient and successful chair.

How are you to be kept informed?
There is no doubt that communicating effectively with participants both prior to and during the meeting is vital to a meeting being successful. Distributing the meeting agenda in advance informs participants of what the meeting’s purpose is and how each of them needs to prepare to ensure they contribute fully.

In some instances you may need to tell participants that attendance is compulsory. You must also ensure that sufficient notice of the meeting is given so that those who you need to attend. This enables them to prepare accordingly and allocate time in their diary.

The communications must also include those that follow the meeting.

  • Do you receive accurate minutes?
  • Do participants know the actions they are responsible for and their associated deadlines?
  • Reports and feedback required for further meetings.
  • Details of next meeting – e.g. time, date & location.

Timely?
From past meetings does it start on time and do all the participants arrive punctually. If individuals do not act in this way delays and interruptions will destroy the meeting.

Whoever has called the meeting must lead by example by being on time and ensure all communications have been clear as to its start time and duration.

Avoid waiting for stragglers, start promptly so everyone can see you respect and appreciate the time they have allocated to help you attain your objective.

Do discussions stay on track?
Keeping everyone focused on the meeting agenda and topics is essential to a meeting’s success so state the rules at the outset. Always ask participants to switch off their cell phones or any other devices they might be carrying. Nothing breaks the tempo of a meeting more than a cell phone ringing in the middle of it.

Stay in control of the discussion. If anyone puts forth a different viewpoint or tries to take the discussion in an inappropriate direction, you should simply state its distraction from the agenda item. Or if it has validity say it will be discussed next time.

Efficient meetings keep to the agenda topics and items.

By asking these questions meeting you attend will be an effective use of your time. To see the full range of Meeting Skills eBooks, checklists and templates that can help you run successful meetings.

The best way to ensure that those attending your meeting are clear about its purpose is to send them an agenda in advance. Your communication should demonstrate that the focus of the meeting is for a specific reason and not just a broad general discussion.

Your meeting agenda should state which issues are being discussed, in what order, and for how long. It suggests the outline for the meeting minutes and to some extent predicts the results of the meeting. An agenda should be short, timed, simple, and clear.

An agenda is usually defined as ‘a list of items of business to be considered and discussed at a meeting.’ Whilst this definition is technically true it obscures the fact that agendas actually serve a variety of purposes and are not just lists of things to discuss.

The Purpose of an Agenda

Your agenda should be more than just a list of discussion items to those you send it to. It performs five separate functions:

  1. Allowing invitees to decide whether or not they need to attend.
  2. Acting as a reference so that attendees can prepare for the meeting.
  3. Providing a structure for the meeting.
  4. Giving the Chair a tool they can use to keep the meeting under control.
  5. Representing a standard by which the meeting can be judged a success or failure.

Each of these has implications for organizational efficiency and for maintaining good relations with your co-workers and team members, as well as achieving the objective of the meeting.

Decision Tool for Invitees
This is a function of an agenda that is frequently overlooked and is key to ensuring that you have the right people coming to the meeting. With the ‘right’ attendees you can achieve meaningful discussions, with everyone present making a valuable contribution and the meeting objective being attained.

One of the main reasons why people have negative feelings about meetings is that they resent being made to sit through them unnecessarily. Many technical people resent spending time in meetings as their contributions are often confined to some technical or factual input, which could just as easily be delivered by an essential attendee who they can brief.

Others may feel that their input adds little or no value to what is already being contributed so feel frustrated at attending when their time could be more productively spent elsewhere. It is not always easy for you to discern whether someone should simply send their recommendations to the meeting or attend in person. You need to ensure that all invitees feel that their contribution is respected whether they attend or not.

Your best solution to this type of problem is to send a copy of the agenda asking attendees if they would prefer to attend the meeting or make their recommendation in some other way. You need to ensure that your key decision-makers recognize the need for them to attend and contribute to the meeting otherwise you will not be able to attain your meeting objective.

There are a variety of ways in which someone can contribute to your meeting effectively without having to attend. An individual may feel that their personal contribution can be effectively delivered via an email to other attendees or by providing a single-page overview that summarizes the key points that can be distributed at your meeting.

They can also brief another invitee who can include the person’s contribution as part of their discussions. Another option is to make a recommendation through their manager on the understanding that they will be available in person or on the phone if further clarification is needed.

Free Business Meeting Agenda Template
A well-planned agenda is the foundation for a productive meeting and has five distinct purposes, each of which has implications for organizational efficiency and for maintaining good relations with your co-workers and team members. This free agenda template explains how to set an agenda to make your meeting a success.

Key Points

  • Your agenda should be headed with a title, date, time, the location of the meeting, and a list of expected attendees.
  • By clearly stating the objectives of your meeting at the top of the agenda, attendees are more likely to prepare properly and less likely to resent being asked to attend.
  • The expected length of your meeting and each item’s allocation of time must be shown on the agenda.
  • Aim to make your agenda as informative as possible; it should encourage participants to turn up and play a full a role.

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