A team meeting is an essential curricular activity for any purpose-driven group. They bring a lot to the table– planned objectives, valuable inputs from different departments within the team, and help boost the overall productivity of the group. Owing to the importance of these meetings, it is always necessary to have a definite team meeting agenda for each and every session. You might wonder why is it essential to have an agenda for a meeting? On paper, the idea of a flexible meeting with no clear plan sounds good and efficient. But it is not practical in real life. I am sure that at some point in your life, you were a participant in a meeting where the team members came unprepared.
When there is no effective meeting agenda, you can expect the following:
- Participants tend to veer off-track
- The discussions are anything but productive, wasting the valuable time of the whole team
- Some participants get so complacent that they don’t provide anything constructive. They prefer to just sit through the meetings, contributing nothing. A clear-cut team meeting agenda can eliminate these primary problems effectively.
Benefits of setting a meeting agenda
We know the problems that the ack of a meeting agenda can cause. But the benefits of having a clear agenda go beyond the scope of merely fixing these problems. A proper agenda for a meeting sets certain boundaries to discussions and sets rigid expectations and goals. It ensures that the team members prepare their ideas, and come up with effective ways to put forth their views in front of the team. Here’s how a having a definite meeting outline can benefit your team:
1. Increases engagement
A team meeting agenda can really kick off the team-spirit within the members. It coaxes them to prepare for the meeting and provide their valuable input. When they put forth their ideas, other people contribute in a collective, collaborative effort.
2. A collective sense of purpose
Any business meeting agenda, which properly outlines the expectations from the meeting ensure that all the participants are on the same page. When all the team members share the same programmes and goals, and participate around it; they tend to understand better the importance of the meeting.
3. Holistic development of the participants
An efficient team meeting agenda can also contribute largely to shape the holistic development of the participants. The facilitator can hone their leadership skills and run the meeting with the goal
to increase productivity. The participants, at the same time, learn a great deal about teamwork, how to put forth their ideas, and how to compromise when needed. Such team meetings are also riddled with challenges here and there, which any participant can take up, thus instilling a sense of accountability in them.
Now that we know the importance and the benefits of having a distinct meeting outline, the next step is to know how to facilitate one properly. Creating a meeting agenda is not as simple as it sounds; you have to take into account a lot of factors. But before you start planning a meeting schedule, you need to come up with agenda items for your meetings.
What are the agenda items?
An agenda item is a separate section of a team meeting agenda that the participants can specify separately from other issues they need to consider during that meeting. The meeting facilitator generally is in-charge of setting the agenda items.
What are agenda items for a meeting like?
To prepare an allegory, you can compare agenda items for a meeting with a grocery form when you wish to order something. The form would contain a large array of items, and you need to discuss each of them with every member of your family; because their presence or absence will ultimately affect all of them. At the same time, you will also need to complete the grocery form within a specified time to make it useful.
Having distinct and rigid agenda items create a bold outline for the order of the meeting. It ensures that the meeting is constructive and flows in a smooth and streamlined fashion. It also helps provide a precise measure of the productivity of a meeting, because of its sequential nature. Generally, facilitators time-box their agenda items and hope to check them off the list within a specified amount of time. Moreover, it instils a sense of purpose within the participants as they come up with effective solutions to tackle all the agenda items. This is why it is important to select efficient agenda items before we move on to the other aspects of planning a business meeting agenda.
How to write a meeting agenda?
Now that we know the basics of a team meeting agenda, we can move on to the trickier aspects of the same. In the following section, we will discuss how to write a meeting agenda, with the help of various meeting agenda examples that are simple to design, yet effective in nature. Here are some basic tips for creating a meeting agenda, to prepare a well-established outline for your next team meeting. The good thing about the points mentioned below is that you can apply them for all your meetings, whether they last a week or even for one day.
1. Take input and opinions of all the team members
The most crucial aspect of any team meeting is its efficiency and engagement. You can only come up with a successful team meeting if all the participants engage actively in the process. As a facilitator, it’s your job to encourage all the participants to put forth their ideas and opinions.
The most effective way of doing this is to continually seek their input, and ask for their suggestions for various agenda items. Create an atmosphere where each and everyone can appreciate the level of communication between the participants and the leader. You can even take this a step ahead by asking your members to come up with agenda items for future meetings. Another important thing to note is that if you reject any of their ideas, you need to be kind and explain your reasons with care, to not discourage future participation.
2. Make sure the agenda items are favourable for the entire team
Team meetings can sometimes prove to be hectic, and it is difficult to get all the members together in the same place at the same time. Therefore, once they are together, you need to make the most out of the situation. Come up with agenda items that affect the entire team, and require the presence of the entire team to solve or discuss them. This is where the availability of multiple agenda items for one meeting proves to be advantageous. Make sure the entire meeting tackles a wide range of issues, to optimize the skills of your entire time.
To help you understand better, let us discuss some meeting agenda examples that affect the whole team.
- Ask questions such as ‘what is the best way to allocate shared resources?’. This is a question that will affect the entire team, as they all need and understand where the company resources can prove to be the most beneficial.
- Ask questions such as ‘what can we do to reduce the response time?’.
3. Be clear about the agenda topics for the day
Perhaps the most crucial thing when coming up with a team meeting agenda is to try and enunciate a plan that everyone can understand. It is of utmost importance that all the participants are clear on the agenda items.
Now, to take help from a meeting agenda sample, one way to be clear about your goals is to list your agenda items in the form of a question. For example, your team might not understand if you tell them the agenda for the meeting is ‘office resource allocation’. They might not question anything but will refrain from participating actively in the discussion. Now string the words together in the form of a question like, ‘what is the best way to allocate resources?’. This would get a much larger response from your team because now they understand the point of the discussion.
Questions can engage your team members into collective thinking and encourage them to participate actively. They will put forth the ideas they deem best for the shared interests of the company, and actively track whether their comments are on point or not.
4. Estimate realistic time-box for your agenda topics
Now, this is the most essential part of the planning meeting agenda. It requires precise estimation and judgment. It involves two aspects:
- The first aspect is to calculate the amount of time that you need to allocate for the topic. You need to take into account a lot of factors like how much time it will take for the introduction of the topic, for the question-answer session, for resolving conflicts and differences in opinions, coming up with solutions and then formulating an effective conclusion.
- The second aspect is more flexible. This rests within the power of your team members. Once you reveal the time you have allocated for a specific topic, the participants can either make efforts to fit their comments and opinions within the given time-frame or make suggestions to increase the time.
Ultimately, you have to understand that you don’t set time-frames to limit your discussions but to allocate sufficient times to encourage healthy discussions.
5. Identify the leader of each meeting
There might come a time when the general leader of the group is not fit to lead a particular team
meeting agenda. One should be considerate about the skills and proficiency of each and every participant and recognize the most suitable leader for different topics. At the same time, it is not prudent to run a meeting without any leader. That might lead to confusion and chaos, and the disorganized fashion of the conference will prove to be bad for the entire team.
6. Determine the type of meeting: discussion, announcement, problem-solving
A team meeting agenda can be anything – whether it is to figure out the best way for resource allocation or to brief the participants about an upcoming project. If your team members are not clear on how to participate in these different kinds of meetings, they’ll refrain from engaging. Therefore, you must make your expectations from the participants clear. Sometimes, you
might just need them to concentrate and listen intently. During other times, it would be vital for them to contribute with their ideas and inputs. If their part in the discussion is not clear, participants might get extremely frustrated and lose their morale by the end of the meeting.
The best way to tackle this problem is to hand out brief instructions about the meeting beforehand. Make sure that you send these instructions with plenty of spare time before the meetings so that the participants can acquaint themselves with the topics and prepare amiably.
7. Be open to modify the meeting agenda if needed
Meetings are pre-planned, and a lot can happen between the time when you send out instructions about the meeting and when the meeting actually takes place. You have to keep in mind that the time-space between the two is large and certain, more important agendas might come up during this interval. So, in order to facilitate a successful session, be mindful to prepare yourself to change or modify your team meeting agenda if need be.
The healthiest way to do this is to start the session by encouraging the participants to speak their mind. Take a minute off and ask them if they would want to make any changes to the list of agendas due to late-breaking events. Usually, the need for changing the agenda will be minimal. But in case a member speaks up, it will only prove that they have something important or constructive to address, which is definitely a plus point for the team.
8. Lastly, review all your meetings at the end
You must allocate a certain amount of time at the end of each of your meetings for reviewing the session. Looking back at the discussions and progress you made during a meeting can help refresh
the events of the team meeting for the participants. It will also help them remember the necessary steps that they are supposed to take after the meeting. Based on an effective meeting agenda sample, you can use these questions to help evaluate your meetings:
- Were the team members prepared for the meeting?
- Did we allocate enough time for each agenda item?
- How well did we engage in productive discussions to optimize all agenda items?
- How effective was the process for each agenda item?
Asking yourselves and your team, these questions will increase accountability and ensure smoother processes in the future. It will also help you track productivity and performance at the end of each meeting. Moreover, it will also be a solid base for self-evaluation, wherein you can judge your team meeting plan based on the success of the session. All of this combined can boost the productivity of any team.
In this article, we covered the basics of how we can conduct productive team meetings by setting up clear-cut agenda items. At the same time, we dove deeper into the mechanics of the same and came up with several simple tricks and techniques to optimize these meetings. The article will also help you set distinct and clear outlines for all your team-meetings, no matter the variations of the agenda items. A team meeting is an integral part of the growth process of any company, and you must make the most of it with minimal efforts.