Earlier this year I gave you 10 tips for writing good minutes. Today I want to share my top tips for meeting agendas. Meetings need agendas. Agendas help with project communication – they ensure people know why they are turning up to a meeting and what they should be doing when they are there. Here are 10 tips for preparing a good agenda.
1. Set up a standard meeting agenda
Standard agenda items for your meeting could include progress updates, upcoming milestones, budget update, confirmation of when people are out of the office in the next few weeks – anything you like that you ask regularly. This gives you an agenda template so it’s easier to produce the agenda each time.
2. Get input from the team
You want to make sure that everyone’s points are covered, so check with the project team members about what they want to discuss at the meeting. You may have to cull some of the suggestions if they are off-topic or would take too long. Fit these around your standard agenda items.
3. Start with apologies
It is always good to recognise who isn’t in the room and to introduce their deputy if they have sent someone to attend in their place. It helps focus the team if issues arise that need the input of someone who isn’t there.
If you send your agenda out too soon people will lose it or forget about it. Too close to the meeting and people will feel that they have not had time to prepare. 3-4 days is about right.
4. Always include AOB
This stands for Any Other Business and should come at the end. You go round the table asking people if they have any other points they want to raise. Including it on the agenda gives people confidence that they will have the opportunity to raise other points that are not covered by the main agenda topics.
5. Confirm the next meeting
Before or after AOB it is a good idea to include confirmation of the time and date of the next meeting. People can check their diaries there and then.
6. Send it out in advance
Ideally, you want to issue your agenda 3 to 4 days in advance of the meeting. If you send it too soon, people will lose it or forget about it. Too close to the meeting and people will feel that they have not had time to prepare.
7. Put attendees on the agenda
Include the names of attendees, the names of people who have sent their apologies, the time and date of the meeting and the location. Include a link to map to the venue if you are not meeting in your offices, or if you are inviting external people like suppliers who may need guidance on how to find the location. People will bring the agenda, but they probably won’t check the calendar invitation for all those details, so this avoids attendees ringing you up asking where they are supposed to be.
8. Have ideas for timings
You should plan about how long you expect every agenda item to last. This way you can be sure that it will all fit in your allotted meeting time. Don’t write the timings on the agenda, but have an idea in mind so that you can keep the flow of the meeting going. Otherwise the team could get stuck on the first topic and not make it through the other agenda topics.
9. Let people know if they are leading a topic
You won’t be an expert in everything, so some discussion topics you will want other people to lead. You may also want project team members to give project updates. If this is the case, warn them in advance! Before the agenda goes out people should know if they are going to feature on it.
10. Have an agenda
Finally, have an agenda! You can’t run a good meeting without one.