How to Set Up a Business Meeting Agenda [5 Tips]

There is nothing worse than a meeting that could have been an email. Except suffering through a disorganized meeting that goes nowhere and accomplishes nothing.

If you're leading a meeting, your goal is likely for attendees to feel like their time and expertise is valued. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by using a business meeting agenda.

Benefits of a business meeting agenda 

An effective agenda is both a schedule and plan for how the meeting will run, what the topics are and who is speaking to each point. It also helps you stay on track and use time efficiently, address all important items and reduce instances of getting off topic. 

This simple tool is so effective because it sets clear expectations for each stage of the meeting and even what actions to take afterward.

Without a predetermined meeting agenda, your team could show up and spend half the time deciding what to discuss or where to start. This also increases your chances of going off topic and running long.

How to set up a business meeting agenda 

Depending on your business needs, the specifics of the agenda will vary. However, common items include:

● Objectives and goals for the meeting

● Meeting details and housekeeping items

● Discussion topics, including speakers and allotted time

● Space for minutes

● Section for next steps and actionables 

Objectives and goals for the meeting

Setting and stating the objectives and goals for each meeting is a vital step that is often overlooked. Many teachers have incorporated this practice into their profession, beginning each lesson by stating the learning objective so students know exactly what it is that they are meant to learn. This is key in business meetings as well. Stating the reason why the meeting is occurring and what you hope to accomplish will help everyone understand why they are there and what is expected. 

Meeting details and housekeeping items

Whether virtual or in-person, begin with meeting details such as the date, meeting type and those in attendance (and absent). You may also wish to begin with a short time of sharing celebrations or wins. Including these details at the top of your agenda makes it easy for everyone to review them before or at the beginning of the meeting. 

Discussion topics, speakers and allotted time

The core of your meeting time will be the discussion topics. When setting the agenda, predetermine topics for discussion and how much time will be spent on each item. It is also important to decide ahead of time who will speak to each item, so everyone can prepare beforehand.  

Space for minutes

Whether you call them minutes or notes, it's important to have a written record of what was discussed and decided. You can assign the role to a particular person, or decide everyone will take their own notes. However you decide to handle the meeting minutes, take notes in real time and make at least one copy available for all attendees to refer to. 

Section for next steps and actionables

You may want to have a space outside of the minutes specifically dedicated to listing action items and responsibilities following what was discussed in the meeting.

List the action item along with who is assigned to the task and a timeframe for completion. Having the list available in one place makes it easy for everyone to review and understand who is doing what and when. 

These are some suggestions you may find helpful when setting up a business meeting agenda. You can make your own, or use a premade meeting agenda template to stay on track.

Whether your meeting is large or small, taking the time to set an agenda is a crucial step to set the intention for the meeting, predetermine topics and speakers and help your meetings be a worthwhile experience.


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