How to create Agendas for more effective Meetings.

Justin Flitter
September 2021

We've all been in terrible meetings. They either have no agenda or the agenda gets demolished within minutes as conversations, issues and rants fly about the room. Well crafted, collaborative, shared agendas are vital to the success of any business meeting.

Agendas serve multiple purposes in meetings and, if used effectively, they ensure inclusivity, keep meeting topics pertinent and focused, and act as a guide for follow up action points. Although it may sometimes seem like extra work, believe us, making the effort to create a smart agenda will save you time, money AND a lot of frustration.

It’s vital that agendas keep meetings focused to ensure what needs to be discussed is covered. Unfortunately, too many meeting organisers simply recycle the last agenda with a few simple updates.

Agenda items shouldn’t just be memory prompts like “Christmas campaign marketing” or “advertising spend”. One suggested technique to get more from your agenda is to instead make items a series of questions to provoke discussion and critical thinking about the topic.

Thus, Christmas campaign marketing” becomes “What marketing mix will be most effective for the upcoming Christmas campaign?” and “Advertising Spend” becomes “Which channel gave us best return on advertising spend in the last campaign?

Reframing agenda items in this way helps your team to think critically about the topic and primes them to consider potential outcomes or, if you are a business advisor meeting with clients, helps you to clarify what information you need to get or convey.

Asking for additional items from attendees in advance also helps them prepare and contribute more effectively. It also shows them that their input is needed and valued, while the chance to review agenda items in good time ensures they are ready to hit the ground running.

Even better, by asking questions up front, everyone is prompted to consider solutions before the meeting starts.

How To Create Smart and Effective Agendas

  • Use PlayBooks to create your meeting and prepare the agenda.
  • Share the meeting link or invite your guests to collaborate so the game plan for that meeting is inclusive and focused.
  • Ask clear specific questions that will clarify the problem and encourage people to think constructively about problems, resources and outcomes.
  • Although input is important, cull unnecessary items or suggest alternate options such as an email or a face to face to address them.
  • Agenda order is important. We tend to give more attention to the first item, so put high priority issues at the top and ones that can roll over further down.
  • If you aren’t completing agendas consistently, review your meeting management to ascertain why items are being missed.
  • One of the key frustrations and time wasters in meetings is people going off topic.  Don’t be shy about politely pulling discussions back to the agenda, it helps remind attendees they are there for a reason and to stay on task.
  • Use the Meeting Notes to list off-topic discussions or ideas as a parking-lot for another meeting.

About PlayBooks

PlayBooks is a smart meetings platform for accountants, professional business advisors, and teams. PlayBooks helps you create Game Plans for business during your client or team meetings. Leveraging your company knowledge and a public marketplace of expertise you can drop PlayBooks into a meeting to create the best game plan for your client.