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Meeting with co-workers and discussing a problem is the best way to tackle a task. Keeping a meeting on point and knowing how to organize it can seem difficult. Take some advice from this week’s blog installment to compose the perfect meeting agenda.

Before the Meeting

To be most effective and give your attendees time to prepare, meetings shouldn’t be set less than three days in advance. Likewise, sending out a preliminary email two days before the meeting will help your co-workers understand and prepare for the tasks of the meeting. Include basic information like the time, date, and location of the meeting. Make sure your objectives are clear. Seek input from other team members and be sure to include topics that reflect their needs.

According to effectivemeetings.com, the best times to meet are at 9 AM and 3 PM – before people are immersed in work and after they have shaken off lunchtime grogginess. You can find free meeting agenda templates online. Office software such as Microsoft word typically includes templates, as well.

Creating an Agenda

Topics for Discussion

Select topics that affect the entire team or need the entire team to solve. It’s difficult to schedule a meeting that works with everyone’s schedule – make sure you are using the time wisely. List the discussion topics as questions to be discussed and answered. For example, instead of the topic Recycling Problems, title it How Can the Office’s Recycling Initiatives be Improved? A question promotes free thought and ideas better than a blanket statement. Your team will be better prepared and engaged in the topic.

Assigning Roles

Assign presenters or leaders for each discussion topic. This lets attendees know what they should prepare for the meeting, do any background research, and be ready for the meeting. It is also important to make the intention of the meeting clear. Are attendees invited to make comments and give their input on a topic, or is the meeting intended to come up with a conclusive decision? Your attendees will be more involved in the meeting if their roles in the topic are clear. 

Allotting Time

Allot a certain amount of time for each topic. This gives an outline of the flow of the meeting. Calculate how much time will be needed for each topic, including answering questions, weighing options, agreeing on a course of action, or tabling the discussion for a later date. While it is important to stick to the schedule as much as possible, your group doesn’t need to stop the discussion when the time elapses. Don’t stifle creative and relevant conversation about a topic just to keep the meeting moving.

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Recap and Plus Delta

A recap of the meeting can act as a checklist to make sure all information was discussed. After recapping the meeting, include an evaluation method called a plus delta. The goal of a plus delta is to reevaluate the events of the meeting – what went well and what did not. It can help your team decide on the best courses of action and provide feedback.

If you feel that your meeting did not go well, review these questions from Harvard Business Review:

  1. Was the agenda distributed in time for everyone to prepare?
  2. How well did team members prepare for the meeting?
  3. How well did we estimate the time needed for each agenda item?
  4. How well did we allocate our time for decision making and discussion?
  5. How well did everyone stay on-topic? How well did team members speak up when they thought someone was off-topic?
  6. How effective was the process for each agenda item?

When you conduct a meeting, organization is key. Perhaps the biggest takeaway you can get from this topic is to prepare ahead of time. That way, if you are looking to alter your plan, you can seek advice from your co-workers.

The simplest part of planning a meeting is choosing a location! With beautiful views, delicious dining options, and multiple meeting spaces, choose Earle Brown Heritage Center for your next meeting.