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Awesome Meetings: Start with a clear agenda

One thing that makes or breaks the meeting before it starts is a clearly defined agenda, i.e. vision and plan for the meeting.

It's not enough to just give the topic, like "Weekly sales overview". Creating an agenda is a great opportunity to set the tone of the meeting. It lets the invitees prepare and align their personal vision with the meeting organizer's one. Don't ignore this planning opportunity, even though it usually takes only 5 minutes to think and formulate a good agenda.

How to create an inspiring, rock-solid agenda? Start with the assumption that everyone else will be completely out of context: create it yourself and think about the promised outcome. Phrases like "Let's meet to talk about …" or "Topics will include" are a great start, followed by the list of topics that everyone invited can relate to. It should be informative and straight to the point, actionable. Working as a last-minute reminder in case somebody forgets their input will be required.

Let's look at the following example of a good agenda:

"Let's meet to talk about our sales progress in the last week (6.01 - 12.01), discuss the surge in the orders and find the possible cause. Jake from the Marketing team will join us to help correlate marketing with sales."

It's short, informative, and gives a good overview of what the meeting will be like:

  • topic is clearly defined: sales progress,
  • topic is relatively precise: a specific week of sales,
  • goal of the meeting is clear: discuss and find the possible cause of a sales surge,
  • involvement of external stakeholders is mentioned: Jake from the Marketing team will join,
  • involvement scope is mentioned: Jake will help with finding correlation between marketing and sales efforts.

What's the benefit of a clearly defined agenda? Everyone involved is aware the meeting context and aligns with its vision, they won't be surprised nor derail from the assumed goal of the meeting. Everyone will be prepared, as their role is clearly expressed and clearly defined. Sharing the agenda beforehand will allow invitees who can't add to the meeting to share their concerns and remove themselves from it to save time.

How to share agenda best? Depending on the way the meeting is announced, the best place to include agenda is the calendar entry (or invitation) and the notification email, if sent too. It should be easy to find before and keep on hand during the meeting.

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