Back To CourseRunning Effective Meetings
2 chapters | 10 lessons
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If you are responsible for a meeting, creating a practical meeting agenda, which outlines the meeting's goals, can make the meeting go smoother and keep everyone on task. When you have many people from different departments, it is easy for a meeting to get derailed and lose focus. With an agenda, a meeting can be more effective, and you can ensure all needed topics are covered.
For instance, if you are preparing for the weekly management meeting, there will be many topics from multiple departments that need to be discussed. By asking each participant if they have a topic that needs to be added to the agenda ahead of time, you can have a good idea of what the meeting will cover and how long to schedule for each topic. This helps keep the meeting moving and prevents the group getting stuck on a discussion on a topic that lasts longer than necessary.
Providing agenda items to the meeting organizer several days before the meeting will help ensure the agenda has all of the necessary topics. This requires you thinking ahead and determining if you need to add anything to the discussion. The agenda should be distributed to all participants at least one, if not two, days before the meeting. This allows each person time to review the agenda, prepare for issues that will be addressed, and bring the appropriate information that may be needed. Being an active participant requires being ready with the right data, input, and insights. You can only be ready if you have enough time before the meeting to gather your thoughts and facts.
A business agenda needs to have several sections.
1. Attendees: This lists everyone who is expected to be in attendance. This can be very important when decisions are being made that affect multiple departments. If one department is not represented, the topic may need to be discussed at a later time when all of the necessary parties are in attendance.
2. Pending items: These are action items or discussion topics that were not completed in the last meeting and need further review. It may be as brief as checking to see if the item is completed or if progress has been made. Let's imagine you are on the holiday party committee. One action item may be 'Find a location.' In the next meeting, one of the committee members announces a location has been selected, and so this action item is complete. This item is very important to the success of the party and was on the action item list until it was finalized.
3. New items: These items are new projects, problems that need to be remedied, or fresh issues that need to be discussed with the team. Returning to our holiday party-planning example, let's say your committee meeting is scheduled for next week, and you ask the meeting organizer to add 'Select a Menu' to the agenda. This means you will discuss what types of foods will served and finalize the menu for the party.
An effective agenda provides additional information to keep the meeting on track. This includes how long each topic is expected to take. For instance, the menu selection for our holiday party example may have 10 minutes allotted to the discussion. The meeting organizer is responsible for keeping everyone on track and keeping the conversation moving towards a decision within the scheduled time frame. If someone is not managing the time, a simple conversation about food could end up taking 45 minutes or more. Having a targeted time limit helps keep the meeting on track.
The agenda should also state who is responsible for each discussion item. This may be the person who asked to have the issue added to the agenda. It may be someone totally different. Let's say you're responsible for food for the holiday party and a different person is in charge of theme and decorations. You ask the meeting organizer to add 'Select a Theme' to the agenda because you need to know what the party theme will be before food can be chosen. You are not in charge of the theme. Therefore, when the agenda is prepared, the appropriate name is added to the discussion of selecting a theme.
What happens when people suddenly remember things they need to discuss that are not on the agenda? The agenda should have a section for urgent issues that must be discussed but were not planned. These are last-minute issues that cannot wait for the next meeting. An example may be that the owner of the business stopped you in the hallway on the way to your holiday planning meeting. She explained to you that she had to be out of town the day of the party and needs to have the party moved to a different day. This is an issue that may change other decisions and should be addressed immediately. You didn't have time to have it added to the agenda and have time scheduled for the discussion because the conversation happened just minutes before the meeting started. Having some flexibility in the agenda is necessary when last-minute changes or emergencies arrive.
A practical meeting agenda is essential to an effective meeting. It should be prepared in advance and distributed to the participants for review prior to the meeting. The agenda should have several key components: an attendees list, a pending items section, new items, and last-minute issues. Each component should have a person responsible for leading the discussion and an estimated time for each topic. This helps keep the meeting on track and allows time for each item to be discussed.
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Back To CourseRunning Effective Meetings
2 chapters | 10 lessons