Agendas Make Meetings Productive

Martin Haworth
 


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Having an agenda template that works well for you, week in, week out, creates a consistency which gets your people bought into the process. Delivering an efficiency and effectiveness which makes the most of the valuable time you have together. Key points to note are:-

  1. Circulate
    Share your agenda in good time, well before your meeting (with reading material for preview). This gives time for review, preparation and challenge.
  2. Roles
    In a meeting there are various roles to be taken on from the start. Chair, notetaker, facilitator, reviewer and other, more specific roles. These should be clearly stated on the agenda in advance of the meeting.
  3. Items for Discussion
    Items on your agenda need to be selected carefully and only be relevant for the grouping of people who get together. Time is precious, so make sure that when together, only things which need everyone's input are given time.
  4. Set Timings
    Get clear on your agenda just how long the meeting will last and how long will be devoted to individual items on it. This gives clear indications of what will happen in meeting.
  5. Ground Rules
    Within your agenda will be some rules of how the meeting process will work. It is important to set standards of behaviour which everyone signs up to.
  6. AOB
    Often included in agendas, this item is one that really should not be there. Good preplanning before the agenda goes out should mean that all items are included at that point and, where dispute occurs, the meeting lead takes a decision. AOB can easily take a meeting off the rails and lead to missing time agreements.
  7. Action Points
    As the meeting progresses there will be action points that individual meeting members will be accountable for. By having a spot on the agenda for a quick review, prior to circulating these in writing, everyone will be clear on what is expected of them.
  8. Parked Items
    Sometimes during a meeting, items arise which whilst important, are outside the scope of that particular meeting. So by both ‘parking’ them during the meeting, thus validating their importance, and having a specific point to check the next steps for them is clear, they do receive attention. This then allows the meeting purpose to be maintained.
  9. Next Meeting
    By ensuring the date of the next meeting is an agenda item, this serves three purposes
    1. It indicates to the meeting attendees follow up meetings
    2. It gives an indication of when agreed action points from the meeting are likely to be required
    3. Finally, it reminds the person responsible for the agenda to agree a clear date during the meeting - if not, it is likely to slip.
  10. Meeting Review
    Your agenda should also be an ongoing learning tool. As such, and to ensure your meetings truly make a difference, there is a real benefit in reviewing how things have worked in the meeting - for all participants. Agenda it.

Martin Haworth is a Business and Management Coach. He works worldwide, mainly by phone, with small business owners, managers and corporate leaders. He has hundreds of hints, tips and ideas at his website, http://www.coaching-businesses-to-success.com/managing_meetings.html (Note to editors. This article may be edited for use in your publication or newsletter as long as a live link to the website is included)

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