According to Harvard Business Review, among 182 surveyed managers 71% believe meetings are unproductive. The good news is, a well-designed agenda transforms the way your team and your organisation approach meetings. Here are some tips about agenda to make your meetings effective.

Engage Everyone In Crafting Meeting Agenda.

If you want your team to collaborate during the meeting, make sure every member addressed the agenda items they want to discuss. This gives everyone an understanding about their crucial role in the meetings and brings all the inputs together.

List agenda items as questions the team needs to answer.

Usually agenda item is a phrase that consists of several words, such as “Google Calendar Integration”. This agenda will not bring clarity on how should members prepare for this discussion. When you list a topic as a question to be answered: “Is everything ready for the release of Google Calendar Integration?” it enables team members to better prepare and to monitor whether their own and others comments are on track.

Determine the agenda style.

It’s difficult for the team to participate effectively in the meeting if they don’t know whether the goal is to share information, participate in creative discussion or make a decision. For example during the decision making process the leader should tell everyone: “If possible, I want us to make this decision by consensus” and encourage discussion as a group.

Estimate and track the time spent on each topic.

Once you determined appropriate time allocation for each agenda use the stopwatch. Classic studies have found that groups solving problem communicate and make decisions at a faster rate under time pressure. People also listen better when things are moving faster. In other words it keeps us more engaged and we end up having more fun in the process.

Specify how members should prepare for the meeting.

Distribute the agenda with sufficient time before the meeting so the team can read background information and add topics to the current agenda before meetings.

Share the responsibility for leading topics.

Not everyone is able to effectively contribute during the meeting. By delegating responsibility you’re bringing diverse contribution to your meetings and helping team think together to reach new insights.

“Review and modify agenda as needed” as the first topic.

Referring to the Murphy's Law: “Anything that can go wrong, will.” Take a minute to see if anything needs to be changed due to late-breaking events, even if you’ve crafted agenda together with your team.

End the meeting with a reflection.

Reflection is a continuous improvement step. Use these questions as an example:

  1. Did we do the work we needed to get done in this meeting?
  2. What contributed to making it time well spent?
  3. How could we improve our next meeting?
  4. Whom would you like to recognise for their contributions during the meeting?

This small meeting retrospective would not take more than 5 minutes, but you and the team would gain a sense of accomplishment, and pulse at the end become the input for your next meeting.

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