Some of our biggest bugbears with meetings are:
- Recurring meetings that take place because they are in the diary - but no-one is quite sure whether they are still needed.
- Meetings that over run.
- Meetings that start late because the meeting before has over run.
- Meetings that get taken over by the loudest speakers.
- Meetings that have no clear objective.
- Meetings that go completely off topic.
- Meetings that have too many people in.
- Meetings that aren't followed up.
As a manager you might wince reading the list as you think of meetings that you have to attend, or even the meetings that you have organised for your team!
But there is an easy way of taking control of your crazy meetings - a structured meeting agenda.
A good agenda is your roadmap to meeting efficiency and here are the sections you need to include:
A good agenda is the key to meeting efficiency.Try out this template in your next team meeting! kebuki.com/2012/05/dont-r…
— Kebuki (@Kebuki) January 19, 2013
|An agenda leads to meeting efficiency!|
Date, Time and Location
When and where is this meeting going to take place? You need a start and end time and really consider whether a meeting needs to be more than 30 minutes long. If you cannot achieve your goal in 30 minutes then have have another look at it - perhaps you need to split into two meetings with separate groups of attendees.
Location is just as important. "TBD" is not a location - it sets a tone of 'let's see what happens" for your entire meeting.
Who is running this meeting and responsible for it's success? Ownership is required - but this doesn't have to be yourself as the manager of the team. Meeting management is a great opportunity for delegation and preparing your team for management themselves. Check out our post Chairing a Meeting - a beginner's guide.
Write everyone's name down - not a group such as "Support Team" or "SMB Sales Team". Realise that you are inviting people and asking for their personal time. Often an email group will include a number of additional people you might not have intended to invite and as soon as attendance becomes optional it sets the tone of your meeting. In the same way, on receipt of the agenda the individuals need to see their own names and feel that they have been personally invited because their opinion is required.
Now break down your meeting into bite size chunks. This is where it gets challenging and makes you start to think about the specifics of what you need to meet for. Each topic should be something that requires the input of the majority of the attendees - if it doesn't then consider splitting topics out into separate shorter meetings.
Decision or Result Required
This is the key to a successful meeting agenda. Every topic should require a decision or result at the end of it. If not, then what are we meeting for? If it is just a general update then we could have delivered that via email. A meeting topic should have an end in mind, require the input of the team into the discussion and then a decision that either closes the topic off or requires further actions.
One attendee in the meeting should be an owner for each topic. That might be the same person for all topics, but more likely you will be delegating to members of your team to take ownership of a particular topic.
Each topic should have a defined amount of time allocated to it. 5 minutes, 10 minutes, whatever it is it should be listed and the chair of the meeting must stick to the agenda with a small amount of flexibility. Attendees need to understand that if 10 minutes has been allotted then they need to get to the decision or result within 10 minutes. As Chair you should have the confidence to move onto the next topic even if a decision has not been made - do not persevere on a single topic at the expense of the entire meeting.
We've put together a template for you to use for your future meetings which you can download here. Once you have completed your agenda be sure to send it to all of your attendees in good time so that they can understand the decisions that will require to be made in the meeting and prepare their input.
This template can also make a great starting point for the minutes that are circulated after the meeting. For more ideas check out our post How to write meeting minutes that work.
We hope this post has been useful for you and helps you to run awesome team meetings in future!
How do you manage your meetings? What additional items would you add to an agenda template?