Every meeting should have an agenda. An agenda provides purpose, structure and an easily accessible roadmap of the meeting. For regular meetings, a standing agenda makes perfect sense. You only have to establish the standing agenda once, usually at the first meeting, and then your colleagues will know what to expect from week to week. From a facilitator’s point of view, this frees up valuable preparation time.
Standing agendas should follow a structure as follows:
- Attendees – a list of those present at the meeting
- Apologies – a list of people who were invited to the meeting, but were unable to attend and notified the facilitator in advance
- Minutes of previous meeting – where attendees approve the minutes of the previous meeting, and/or make any last-minute amendments
Follow-up from previous minutes – where attendees discuss the outcomes from the tasks assigned during the previous meeting. For more information, see the article Tasks and Outcomes earlier in this series.
The other items on the list should form the “meat" of your meeting. Exactly what these are depends on what type of meeting you are facilitating. Personally speaking, I find it simplest to assign each attendee his or her own agenda item, for example:
- Sales Manager report
- Operations Manager report
- General Manager report
Not only does this method take the guesswork out of preparing your agenda, but it allows you to give the floor to one person at a time, reducing some of the back and forth chatter that can result from inviting input from the meeting as a whole. The place for this is later in the meeting, as will be illustrated shortly.
Once the middle part of the meeting is over with, the final few items of the agenda should provide a natural end to the meeting, making it easier for you as a facilitator to bring proceedings to an orderly close. For example:
- Date/time/venue of next meeting – self-explanatory
- AOB (Any Other Business) – this gives all attendees an opportunity to raise anything that was not included on the agenda.
If you would like more information on creating effective agendas, feel free to leave a comment below. Complimenting any agenda is comprehensive minutes; indeed, a successful meeting is nigh-on impossible without them. Let’s look at minutes now.
Image credit: sxc.hu/jan-willem