Apart from being the number one time-waster, meetings are often unorganised, have no purpose, and possess the tendency of going off-topic, and are therefore dreaded by one and all. Most meetings also lack a clear agenda because of which they seem to stretch on forever. Creating an agenda for a meeting is essential if you want to keep the discussion streamlined and efficient and get things moving in your direction. A meeting agenda can be best defined as a list of items that participants hope to accomplish at a meeting. Here are four guidelines to walk you through creating a masterful meeting agenda.
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Send out a meeting request three days in advance
When you invite the participants of your meeting in advance, they know that they need to keep their schedule clear for a few hours that day. In addition, they can prepare notes beforehand which will ensure that the meeting stays on track for its entire duration. They can also raise flags prior to the commencement of the meeting if the objectives don't match their expectations. This way, there will be no unnecessary interruptions during the course of the meeting.
Lay down the objectives
Before you send out the agenda, determine the ultimate goal that you wish to achieve out of the meeting. Your objective should be so clear that you should be able to answer it in less than two sentences when someone asks you for it. Once the goal is established, list down the topics that need to be discussed in the order of priority so that the most important subjects get covered.
Assign a time-limit to each topic
Each item on the agenda should have a designated time slot to make it clear to all participants that a strict schedule is being followed and that there is no room for distractions. Always assign a separate slot to the description of the items that need to be discussed and to the summary of the decisions made so they don't throw the meeting off-schedule. Doing this will ensure that everyone actively participates in the discussion and that the purpose of the meeting is fulfilled.
Create a master copy and collaborate it as the meeting progresses
There are usually two types of agendas to prepare before a meeting, the first one being a brief outline of the topics with their time slots. The second one would be the master copy, and this would include a detailed description of each subject that needs to be discussed. As the meeting progresses, the leader of the meeting should record the decisions of the meeting on the master copy. This will ensure that everyone has the minutes of the meeting with them immediately after the meeting is over.
Whoever said that time and sanity goes for a toss during meetings didn't know how to create an effective meeting agenda. Before scheduling your next meeting, keep the above points in mind to make it a success.