The agenda is a key tool to ensuring a successful meeting. It makes the leader think about the best use of the time in the meeting and outlines to the attendees what will be happening during the meeting. Timings on the agenda are very useful especially if you have a few talkative attendees. The chair can use phrases like “We’ve only got 20 minutes to discuss this so thanks Janet, lets hear from John”
Here are a few tips for drawing up a successful agenda
- Allow time for opening and closing the meeting. Everyone needs a few minutes to settle in and the chair needs a few minutes at the end to summarise and close the meeting.
- I find that meetings flow better if you start off with routine matters and then move on to items that need more discussion. This allows delegates to find their feet and generally “warm up” to the tasks of the meeting.
- We all lose concentration after a while so have a break every 90 minutes wherever possible. Even a 5 or 10 minute comfort break will refresh people and break any tension.
- Be ruthless about what you put on the agenda. Concentrate on what you are trying to achieve and include items that move you towards your goals.
- Give delegates the opportunity to add items to the agenda, but give a clear deadline and stick to it. Make it clear you will question any items that don’t contribute to the aims of the meeting. If you are chairing a regular meeting work towards an agenda that is 50-75% standard.
What tips do you for preparing an effective agenda?