Meetings are essentially called upon to discuss certain topics that require two or more people to attend the meeting with full concentrated efforts and engagement upon these topics.
However, if the meeting discussion flow is disrupted, which oftentimes than not it is, the entire meeting ends up wasting each attendee's time and energy without much reflection or resolution to the originally intended discussions. The meeting becomes pointless.
That is why it is important to set a meeting agenda to hedge away all the unnecessary derailments and time wasted.
What is a meeting agenda?
A meeting agenda is essentially a guide to how a meeting will go. The clearer and more well-constructed the guide is, the more effective the meeting will be.
The guide consists of two essential elements: topics and time dedicated to each topic. When you set clear meeting objectives and spend enough time planning the agenda, you will select clear and relevant topics and know exactly what how much time you need to spend on each.
Setting a meeting agenda is important for meeting facilitators/managers as well as the meeting attendees. To have a productive meeting, you need to share the meeting agenda with the attendees beforehand. This will allow time for the attendees to prepare and contribute to the agenda if needed.
Why meeting agendas are important?
Harvard Business Review in its article “Stop the Meeting Madness” mentions that business executives spend nearly 23 hours a week in meetings as opposed to less than 10 hours in the 1960s. And most of those meetings are off-track in terms of time, discussed topics, or both.
Each minute spent on unproductive meetings eats away from everyone's productivity. You'll also notice negative patterns displayed, such as trying to reschedule meetings, coming late to meetings, showing no interest during meetings, and many side discussions.
How you hold meetings affects how employees collaborate and how they monitor progress and get the job done. Productive meetings ensure that everyone is on the same page and boost positive work culture and relationships. However, you don’t need to sacrifice your own time and mental health for meetings.
Just like strong buildings have a powerful base, a well-thought-out meeting agenda is how productive meetings come to be, and here's why.
A meeting agenda can make you change your mind about scheduling the meeting
Having a clear idea about the purpose of the meeting usually starts by setting an agenda. A meeting agenda can make you realize that your 30-minute meeting can be replaced with an email or a quick update via a messaging app. And this shows how considerate you are about everyone's time.
Effective meeting agendas help you set clear expectations
In meetings, setting boundaries/expectations is of utmost importance to prevent you going off track. A meeting agenda sets clear expectations about what is going to be discussed and tells everyone that only the topics included in the agenda will be discussed.
However, you can write down anything that comes up in your meeting minutes and refer to it later, either at the end of the meeting, if time allows, or at the next meeting.
Establishing action items is easier with a meeting agenda
A great list of action items is the outcome of an effective meeting that had a well-thought-out meeting agenda. Clear and reasonable action items increase productivity and keep everyone informed of expectations.
Meeting agenda templates
Of course, we can't talk about the importance of meeting agendas without mentioning meeting agenda templates. Templates can help you come up with an excellent agenda in less time and will help you cover all necessary items.
Just find yourself the perfect template and make sure it's editable, so you can customize it according to your needs.
The following are several templates that you may find useful. They're free, editable, and inclusive. Some of the templates include small guides with quick tips for the type of meeting you want to conduct. So, have your folder "Meeting Agenda Templates" ready on your PC and download the following agenda templates, so you can refer to them at any time when needed.
- Team meeting agenda template
- Board team meeting agenda template
- Quarterly planning meeting agenda template
- Standup meeting agenda template
- Status meeting agenda template
- First meeting with new team agenda template
- Brainstorming meeting agenda template
- Skip-level meeting agenda template
- Kick off meeting agenda template
- Sales team meeting agenda template
- Retrospective meeting agenda template
💡Pro Tip. Use the templates in adam.ai for maximum benefit. You can add notes and comments while discussing the agenda; add sub-agenda items and attach files; edit, delete, re-order agenda items inside the meeting room; set a timer for each agenda item; and much more.
Want to know more? Check out this one-minute video on how to create a meeting agenda on adam.ai.
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How meeting agendas make meetings more effective
Below are some tips on how to use meeting agendas to hold effective meetings.
Focus on your list of invitees
Often times than not, there are one too many members that are invited who may not have much association to the outcomes you wish to reach with the purpose of this meeting. You need to make sure that you know exactly what you are asking of your attendees and what the attendees can offer you during your meetings. Analyzing these expectations is essentially the best way to eliminate those who will have a useful presence with those who will end up being wallflowers during your meetings.
Share the meeting agendas beforehand so that everyone can come prepared
Preparation is key to any meeting. However, being prepared falls not just on the meeting leader, but also on those who are invited to attend as well. Having meeting member aware of what they can expect to encounter during their meetings can enable better more lively discussions that are more concentrated on your meeting topics. You can use adam.ai as your agenda setting tool enables that helps you set, edit, and share meeting agendas before the meeting with other participants.
Be open and flexible to amending your meeting agenda
It is important to share your meeting agenda before the meeting not only to have meeting members come more prepared but also for them to suggest what they feel are points that need to be discussed. That why, meeting leaders can also come revise and prioritize each agenda item accordingly. This is also a great way to create a more concrete meeting communication flow structure and decrease interruptions. adam.ai also has a feature that automatically allows meeting members to share their suggestion before the meeting in order for you to alter the agenda.
Abide by your meeting agenda
It is important to commit to and respect the agenda that was shared and agreed upon in order to stay on track. With adam.ai, for instance, users can use the agenda-setting tool to maintain the intended structure of your meeting agenda. Every meeting member has the luxury of seeing the agenda items at all times in order to ensure that the topics are visible for a more awareness of the structure before as well as during the meeting. Each agenda item can also be set with a dedicated duration timer, which ensures that all discussions do not go over any time limits. Meeting members are ultimately more conscience of the agenda.
Assign a time for derailments
Off-topic discussions during meetings is an innately human behavior. Even though these derailments can be discouraging, it can help increase team spirit and synergy if managed well. That is why it is crucial to actually schedule time in your agenda for your team to have their derailments. Furthermore, by adding this to your schedule, you will be able to manage your time better in accordance to these unavoidable human behaviors.
➕ Extra bonus. Try sending out a thank you email after the meeting is finished; it has a positive effect on attendees and enhances meeting productivity.
To sum up, agendas are a great factor in ensuring that the meeting members come more prepared to their meetings. Whether it enables more communication or less distractions, it is a crucial practice that supports your meetings.
adam.ai thrives on providing its users with a well-orchestrated agenda-setting tool that goes beyond just the basic setting and sharing features. You can benefit from the built-in timer that eliminates any wasted time and helps reinforce everyone's commitment to the meeting's agenda.
Try adam.ai today and learn more about how you can steer your meetings to more manageable and effective outcomes.