7 Ways a Properly Planned Agenda Eliminates Ineffective Meetings

January 19, 2022

Whether you love or hate meetings, they will most likely always be part of the workplace. That’s because meetings can be incredibly beneficial. They help employees stay up-to-date and provide a space for joint decision-making. That said, not every meeting is as productive as it should be.

Perhaps the meeting’s leader is unprepared or the attendees aren’t focused. Regardless of the cause, it’s all too easy for a meeting to turn into a frustrating waste of employees’ time. The good news is, a meeting agenda can help streamline meetings to ensure they’re as effective as possible. Meeting agendas outline the meeting’s talking points, key players, and action items before the meeting even start.

Consider these seven ways a meeting agenda can transform even your daily huddles and increase productivity:

1. It Improves Preparation

Depending on the meeting’s goal, an agenda will give your co-workers an opportunity to prepare before the meeting starts. For example, maybe you’re going over company updates and want the team to come with questions already prepared. Sharing your agenda with everyone a few days beforehand allows you to include action items that will increase your meeting’s effectiveness.

For instance, you could write, “Please email me your questions 24 hours before the meeting, and I will address them on the call.” This tells attendees what they should do when they should do it, and why.

2. It Helps Your Team Achieve Goals

One of the chief benefits of a meeting agenda is it helps you accomplish your goals. When creating an agenda, first start with your overall objective. What would you like to achieve? With this information, you can create a plan to ensure your goals are met.

Say you’re trying to decide which of two competing CRM platforms to adopt. You could have two attendees present the pros and cons of each, allow for team discussion, and then hold a vote.  Instead of going into the meeting hoping you accomplish your objective, you’ll have the tools in place to ensure you do so.

3. It Keeps Everyone on Track

Another great thing about a meeting agenda is it keeps everyone on track. Think of a meeting agenda as an outline. It should include exactly what you want to discuss and at what point you want to discuss it — and for how long.

This is especially handy if you’re someone who struggles to stay on topic during meetings. Maybe you’re naturally chatty, or your nerves usually get the better of you during meetings. You can reference the agenda to guide you back to the subject at hand.

4. It Keeps Meetings Short

Ideally, having a meeting agenda helps decrease the amount of time spent in the meeting. By limiting the time for each discussion item, the meeting will be less likely to get derailed. This is a good thing, especially considering the research showing that shorter meetings are more effective.

The human brain can only process a certain amount of new information at a time. And while every brain is different, a general rule of thumb is that people start to lose focus after about 18 minutes. Allowing discussions to exceed that time frame pretty much guarantees your meeting will be ineffective. A detailed meeting agenda can help you keep things short and sweet.

5. It Gives You Control

For some people, meetings can bring about anxiety. If you’re the one leading the meeting, it can be stressful to engage in public speaking — a common phobia. A meeting agenda can help you feel more in control. Instead of just “winging it,” you’ll know exactly what you want to discuss. You can use your agenda to practice ahead of time so you feel more assured during the actual meeting.

The same is true for the other people who will be speaking during your meeting. Your agenda can highlight exactly what you want them to cover, so they will be confident in knowing what’s expected of them.

6. It Streamlines Documentation

Regardless of whether the agenda is a physical piece of paper or a digital document, you should leave space for attendees to take notes. You should also have a designated note-taker who can document the meeting in real-time and send the official notes to attendees afterward. An agenda will jumpstart this process, providing a place to record points made and decisions taken on various discussion topics.

Having this type of documentation is great for keeping your employees accountable. The meeting notes should highlight any action items you discussed (with due dates) to ensure attendees follow up on assigned tasks.

7. It Boosts Employee Satisfaction

According to research, almost 70% of employees say spending too much time in meetings negatively impacts their performance at work. There are no denying meetings can be a time suck. When they go over the allocated time, it makes it difficult for employees to finish all of their tasks. A meeting agenda helps prevent that by focusing the meeting so it stays true to the designated time.

Employees aren’t necessarily eager to spend time in meetings. Ineffective, overlong meetings decrease productivity, which can negatively impact an employee’s overall experience at work. Creating concise yet detailed meeting agendas can go a long way in avoiding that.

As with any activity, preparation is key to making things run smoothly. A meeting agenda lets you gather your talking points and focus on your objective, so you’re ready when the meeting finally arrives. Not only does it make your job as the meeting’s leader easier, but it benefits all those in attendance.


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