How to Create an Effective Meeting Agenda

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Every kind of meeting, from a private discussion with a groupmate to an all-hands meeting to discuss organizational goals and important issues, requires a well-crafted agenda. A well-planned agenda for meetings keeps everyone involved in a productive, purposeful way while improving the efficiency of each individual participant and the overall group.

Define the objectives of each agenda item. By defining what the purpose of each item, attendees are aware of what they can expect from the meeting and can alter their participation in line with the expectations. Clarity about the goals of meetings helps ensure that the meeting doesn’t depart from its initial purpose and is therefore more likely to be successful.

For each goal be clear about what the desired outcome is expected to be achieved. This could include stating if the objective is to share information, collect input or make a choice. It can also define the process to be used to accomplish the goal, such as seeking an agreement or a vote.

Give an estimated time for each agenda item. Including an estimated time enables participants to prepare for discussion and alter their participation accordingly. It also allows leaders to decide if additional time is needed, or if the goal could be achieved in less time.

Include “parking lots” items on your agenda. Parking lot is used to record important topics, ideas, and conversations that are relevant to the discussion topic but do not have to be discussed. This method is particularly helpful for virtual meetings because it stops meetings from getting disrupted by unrelated conversations.

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