Why is a meeting agenda important?
Have you ever felt so annoyed by meetings that are full of loud mouths blabbering away about off-topic rubbish, which led to the meeting taking up 1-2 more hours than it should have?
I have definitely been through such meetings and they have definitely been quite the time waster. A way to combat such unnecessary time being wasted is to state down the agenda clearly and send this agenda out to everyone before the meeting starts.
1. Plan out the meeting agenda
Before the meeting, list down the topics that need to be discussed during the meeting. An ideal meeting agenda should be one that can be seen at a glance, so the meeting attendees can see at a glance what’s going to be covered during the meeting, even if they only look at the agenda at the very last minute before the meeting starts.
A simple straightforward meeting agenda also means that the person who calls for the meeting does not need to spend too much time writing out the agenda.
2. Take measures to ensure the meeting will go as planned
a. Double check that everyone is available
Before you send out the invite for the meeting, be sure to check with everyone involved whether they are available at that time slot.I hope that you are able to see everyones’ schedules instead of having to ask each of them one by one. If you do not already have this enabled, here’s how you can see everyones’ calendars on Google and on Outlook.
b. Gauge whether if you are able to really cover everything stated in the Agenda
Based on your experience, you should be able to gauge how much discussion time each topic requires. Some topics require much more time than other topics.
If you do not have enough time to cover everything that you want to cover, consider removing some less important topics from the list. If you REALLY need to discuss all the topics that you have listed down, find another time slot that allows you to discuss everything. You can even consider having 2 meetings to cover everything in the agenda.
Check whether there is anything from the previous meeting that needs to be followed up on.
3. Send out a calendar invite
Now that you have the agenda ready and a confirmed timeslot where everyone is available, it’s time to send out the calendar invite to all the meeting attendees.
My favorite Calendar tool to use is Google Calendar. It is free and easy to use. Simply choose the timeslot, state down the meeting agenda in the description, key in all the meeting attendees emails, and then click ‘Save’. All the meeting attendees will then receive the meeting invite in their email inbox.
4. During the meeting
During the meeting, be sure to cover all the points stated in the meeting agenda. Assign someone to take down the minutes from the meeting and ask them to share a tidied up contact report with you once the meeting is over.
5. After the meeting
It is recommended to send the contact report and next steps required to everyone within 24 hours after the meeting is done, as whatever that has been discussed is still fresh in the meeting attendees’ minds.