The Best Format for Your Meeting Agenda

Format for Your Meeting Agenda

In most cases, the deviation from the course during online meetings occurs in one of two scenarios: either everyone is sitting there as if their mouths have watered, as the oppressive silence is broken from time to time by individual monologues, or everyone is haphazardly trying to insert their five cents, which reminiscent of an unrestrained village wedding. In both cases, we get a worthless result.

How to Create Your Meeting Agenda?

Follow the tips below to make online meetings as lively and productive as in-person meetings.

1. Use a formal agenda.

If you don’t have a clear plan, participants will think you’re just trying to “chat” rather than solving a problem, sharing ideas, or making a decision. Have the agenda in writing and send it to participants at least a few days in advance to give them time to prepare.

Also repeat it from time to time during the meeting.

2. Formulate topics of conversation in the form of questions.

Avoid this typical format:

  • sales for the third quarter;
  • an exhibition stand at an international conference;
  • marketing campaign of competitors during August.

Instead, frame the topics as questions in a way that helps guide the discussion rather than turning it into a jumble.

  • What percentage of the norm for the third quarter has been fulfilled at the current moment?
  • Is participation in an international exhibition worth spending 35 thousand US dollars and 2 days of time?
  • What would be the best strategy to counter Logard’s marketing campaign in August?

3. Specify the format for each topic on the agenda.

In the written copy of the agenda, specify the format for each topic: “for open discussion”, “reporting only”, “questions and answers”, “survey of participants”, “for making recommendations”, “for decision making”. Often, participants leave the meeting feeling like time was wasted because no decisions were made. However, you, as the organizer of the meeting, could only aim to raise a certain issue and listen to comments. If you inform the participants of the goals of the meeting in advance, the feeling of the completed task will remain in the team after each discussion.

4. Set aside time to discuss each topic.

Time frames can be adjusted during the meeting. However, by specifying the time, everyone will know what you expect from them. If the agenda states that Petrenko has to report the results of laboratory tests and he is given 5 minutes for this, he will not spend time preparing a 30-minute slide show.

5. Warn the responsible person in advance if they need to have certain information on hand.

If Yana has to present certain data for further discussion, let it not be a surprise for her. Mark her on the agenda as a “person in charge” to allow her to prepare for the presentation.

6. Summarize and indicate what further actions you expect from each. This should be done on the agenda.

Keep in mind that participants in online meetings often struggle with the strong urge to shift their attention to a cell phone screen or a pile of unsorted documents. Summarize the key findings and decisions and write them in the blank column of the displayed agenda. Then, in the last column, indicate who is responsible for what and by what date.

That’s all. The completed agenda will now serve as the minutes of the meeting. Return the final version of the agenda to all participants and those who were unable to join you (as the reference material is available for download)!

Your agenda helps solve a difficult task, and now online meeting productivity is guaranteed!