Practices for Professionals – Meetings Best Practice 5: Agendas
Key to running an efficient meeting is a well-structured agenda. Such agendas provide structure through the assignment of topic facilitation and time intervals. These documents, published before the meeting, help presenters and attendees prepare for the meeting and then support meeting facilitators ensure the meeting stays on topic and on time.
Well-constructed meeting agendas consist of sequential meeting topics, their allotted amount of time and presenter(s). Agenda topics are organized in a logical sequential such that information supporting later topics is derived from earlier topics. Time assigned to each topic should be expressed as a duration, not as clock time, to prevent ‘clock-watching’ by attendees and enable the facilitator to more easily keep the meeting on-track. Presenter assignments afford these individuals an opportunity to prepare for the meeting.
Note that topics should be expressed as titles accompanied by no more than a short one or two sentence description. If additional information is needed, reference where that documentation can be obtained outside of the agenda.
An agenda should be published prior to the meeting for which it supports, early enough to allow presenter and participant preparation but not so early that preparations done upon receipt of the agenda would be diminished by the passage of time.
Abbreviated agenda topics are often provided in initial meeting invitations. When done, a full agenda containing all of the information specified above should be provided in a timely manner prior to the meeting.
For standing meetings, a core agenda is often published in the recurring meeting invitation and a unique agenda provided for each meeting containing specific topics, times, and presenters as well as updated document references.
Other information provided include in a best practice meeting agenda include:
- Meeting time and date
- Meeting location
- Overall meeting purpose
- Meeting facilitator
- Meeting attendees (optional)
- Meeting coordinator contact information
About the Author
Nathan Ives is a StrategyDriven Principal, and Host of the StrategyDriven Podcast. For over twenty years, he has served as trusted advisor to executives and managers at dozens of Fortune 500 and smaller companies in the areas of management effectiveness, organizational development, and process improvement. To read Nathan’s complete biography, click here.
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