3 Simple Steps Toward a Better Meeting Agenda

open plannerClient calls, internal regroups, big idea brainstorms—we spend a lot of time in meetings.

While, ideally, each one would be carefully planned in advance to be impactful, this isn’t always the case.

More than $37 billion in overhead is wasted each year in unproductive meetings. Even worse? This number continues to grow. Collectively, 15% of an organization’s time is spent in meetings, a number that has increased every year since 2008, and employees say that only 45% of their time at work is spent completing primary job duties.

The solution? Get proactive about saving your agency money and your team time. Ahead of pinging your co-workers’ inboxes and calendars with a meeting notice, draw up a robust agenda that prioritizes purpose-driven results and efficiency.

1. Determine What You Can Realistically Cover

Trying to cover too many different projects or topics in one sitting can put unnecessary stress on both yourself and your teammates. Instead, decide what you can realistically achieve with your time.

To start, write down your agenda wish list, along with a rough estimate of how much time it will take to discuss each topic. For now, leave nothing out. Once outlined, compare the time totals against your allotment for the meeting and ask yourself:

  • Are you trying to tackle too much?
  • Is everything here critical to cover in this particular meeting?

Consider which items need to be talked through as a group, and which might be better suited as an email update or quick “walk and talk” on the way to lunch.

2. Prioritize Agenda Items Based on Urgency

Once you’ve narrowed down topics to only those worthy of group discussion, prioritize your list. Consider labeling each of your proposed topics as one of the following:

  1. An urgent and important item to discuss.
  2. An important, but not necessarily urgent, item to discuss.
  3. Nice to discuss if you have time.

Flesh out your agenda by placing items in order of urgency and importance.

3. Allow Time for the Unexpected

Even the best agendas can be thrown a curve ball every once in a while. Don’t let it throw you off track. Instead, plan for it. Consider allotting time (say, 5-10 minutes) for unexpected items that need to be added to the agenda in real-time.

Leaving room for these items intentionally gives them a place and ensures you have time to cover everything needed.

Bonus? If there’s time left at the end of the meeting because no one had anything additional to add, you can simply end the meeting early.

How do you accommodate time, topic or personality challenges before they enter the meeting room? Share your own tips in the comment section below.

Image Source: abductit

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