How To Write an Effective Meeting Agenda (With a Template and Example)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published July 26, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When you lead a business meeting, you may be responsible for coordinating many people and tasks. Planning the details of your next meeting with an agenda can help you ensure its success. An effective meeting agenda can help participants discuss all the necessary material, use time efficiently, and keep the meeting on topic. In this article, we discuss what a meeting agenda is and why it is an important planning tool, explore how to write a meeting agenda, and provide a template and example to guide you.

What is a meeting agenda?

A meeting agenda outlines the topics or activities that you want to include in your meeting. It gives participants a clear idea of the meeting's goals, who will lead each task, and an estimate of how long each part of the meeting will take. That way, everyone can work together to make sure that the meeting proceeds efficiently.

Why is setting a meeting agenda important?

By setting an agenda, you can:

  • Use your time more efficiently

  • Be more productive

  • Lead with confidence

  • Stay focused on the most important goals

  • Minimize distractions

  • Make sure that people have a chance to prepare presentations and think of the questions they want to ask in advance

Read More: What Is Interpersonal Communication and How Can You Use It in the Workplace

How to write an agenda for a meeting

Whether you want to have a short, one-hour meeting or a larger gathering that lasts an entire day, you can use these steps to create a great agenda:

1. Identify the meeting's goals

Whenever people attend a meeting, they need to take some time away from other tasks. Identifying clear goals can help you avoid distractions and make sure that every topic you want to cover is relevant. If you need to talk about something that's not related to the entire team with a coworker, save time within the meeting by covering that topic on another occasion. You can email the person or have a short conversation.

If you have a larger, long-term goal, you can decide which steps you want to take care of during a meeting and which ones can wait. For example, executives at a company opening a new location could talk about potential sites and decide which candidates to contact for interviews. In the next meeting, they could discuss hiring a contractor to start construction and the advertising budget and marketing strategy. Here are some of the most common types of meeting goals:

  • Status updates: People also call these types of meetings progress checks, and they usually have several speakers who bring executives and fellow managers or department heads up to date about company operations. People sometimes use status update meetings to decide how to respond to changes or problems and create a plan of action that gives clear responsibilities to employees.

  • Information sharing These meetings have one or two speakers who train employees about new policies, regulations, or technologies. The speakers answer questions from meeting attendees, but people don't usually use the meeting to discuss the subject among themselves.

  • Problem-solving: A major issue such as a shipping delay or a defective product could warrant its own meeting. People in these meetings brainstorm solutions to the problem and then work together to implement the best suggestions.

  • Team-building: These meetings are usually a bit more casual, and they could include an award ceremony for a high-performing employee, a catered lunch, or another event meant to encourage teamwork.

2. Ask participants for input before the meeting

Asking the people who will attend the meeting which topics they want to discuss will help them stay engaged. It can also help you make sure that you cover the most important subjects and fulfill the needs of everyone there. If you decide not to include a suggested topic in the agenda, explain why you didn't include it. Also, schedule a time to discuss the subject with the person or tell them where they can get more information about it from another employee or the business's website.

3. List the questions or topics you want to address

Some people list meeting agenda items as questions, and others use shorter topic descriptions. List each question you want to answer or topic you want to discuss. Here are some examples of agenda items:

  • Who should be the new general manager?

  • Selection of general manager

  • What's the latest news on the new project?

  • Updates on new projects

  • What could help the team perform better?

  • What are some solutions for the software glitch?

  • Brainstorming session for a solution to the software glitch

4. Estimate the time needed for each topic and choose speakers

Estimating the amount of time needed for each item on the agenda can help you make sure you have enough time for the entire meeting. If you need to cover several items and the meeting will take more than a few hours, consider dividing it into two meetings and having them on different days. This can keep people engaged from start to finish.

Add the amount of time allotted for each task and the names of speakers to the meeting agenda. That way, speakers can adjust their presentations to fit within the timeframe, and they'll have plenty of time to prepare before the meeting. Remember to leave at least a few minutes for questions and comments after each scheduled speaker.

Read More: Time Management Skills: Examples and Definitions

5. End the meeting with a review

Ending the meeting with a brief review of the points you discussed can help people remember the most important parts of the meeting. It also gives them a chance to bring up any points they forgot to mention. After the summary, ask participants what parts of the meeting went well and what changes the company needs to make in the future. That way, your next meeting can be even more effective.

6. Fill meeting roles

Someone usually leads a meeting to make sure that everyone follows the agenda, discusses topics politely, and resolves conflicts. You can lead a meeting yourself after creating the agenda, or you can assign the task to another manager.

Also, an important meeting often has an administrative assistant or another staff member who takes notes or minutes and then creates a detailed transcript of the meeting. The transcriber also records any decisions made or plans of action formed during the meeting. Some meetings also have another staff member who keeps track of time and lets people know if they speak for too long. Before you fill these roles and add peoples' names to the agenda, make sure they're available and they know how to complete the tasks needed.

Read More: Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples

7. Share the agenda in advance

Let people know about the agenda of the meeting as soon as possible so they have plenty of time to prepare and formulate questions and talking points. They can also manage their time more effectively and let people know in advance when they won't be available for other tasks because of meetings.

Meeting agenda template

A meeting agenda usually includes the date and the times that the meeting starts and ends, the place, the purpose or goal of the meeting, the speakers, and the topics that the company wants to cover. Meeting agendas with many speakers or speakers from outside the business may include brief biographies of the people talking as well. Here's a template to help you write your next meeting agenda:

[Meeting name] Agenda

Location: [An address or room number with directions if needed]

Date: [The meetings scheduled date]

Time: [The starting and ending times for the meeting]

Facilitator or leader: [The name of the person running the meeting]

Objective:

[Start time] to [End time]: [Agenda item description and subtopics] [The speaker or speakers]

[Start time] to [End time]: [Agenda item description and subtopics] [The speaker or speakers]

[Start time] to [End time]: [Agenda item description and subtopics] [The speaker or speakers]

[Start time] to [End time]: [Agenda item description and subtopics] [The speaker or speakers]

[Any additional instructions, comments, or information]

Meeting agenda example

Here's an example of a completed meeting agenda:

First Quarter Sales Agenda

Location: The North Conference Room at the 11th Street offices

Date: Wednesday, October 16, 2021

Time: 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Facilitator: Michael Collins

Objective: Discuss the first quarter sales statistics, any bottlenecks or roadblocks, and how to improve sales during the second quarter.

Agenda Items:

3 to 3:10 p.m.: Welcome the attendees and proceed to introductions

3:10 to 3:40 p.m.: Each department head takes several minutes to go over sales results. They talk about areas where big deals have been closed and provide helpful insights.

3:40 to 4 p.m.: Review expectations for future sales and discuss ways to overcome any obstacles or roadblocks.

4 to 4:45 p.m.: Discuss product updates, business strategy, and the latest marketing campaign

4:45 to 5 p.m.: Review the conclusions of the meeting and the plan of action for the future

Please review this agenda before the meeting so that you can come prepared.

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