Meetings need an Agenda

7 Reasons Why You Should Always Have an Agenda for Your Meetings

By Aaron McCardell

We've all been there: We've walked out of meetings knowing we're never going to get that time back, wondering why we were invited and what it was that we accomplished. Often, this lack of productivity in a meeting is not the result of what happened during the meeting but rather what didn't happen beforehand: meeting preparation. Planning an effective meeting is as important as conducting one. Here are seven more reasons to create meeting agendas.

Get Buy-In

One of the obstacles to getting a meeting set up can be getting buy-in from those involved. Taking time in your meeting agenda to show each participant why they're attendance and participation is important to the overall goal for the project.

Set Goals For Yourself

As the person putting together the agenda, it's likely you were also the person who proposed (or is proposing) the meeting. With that in mind, it's good to know what you intend to get out of the meeting, and accomplishing this is best done through setting goals. Before you even begin putting together the agenda, before you decide who should attend or even where it should be held, write down your goals. This is vital, as knowing your goals will influence the remainder of your decisions.

Allow Others to Prepare

You can set all of the goals you want and invite the right people at the right time to the right place, but the meeting can be ruined if these people do not know what is expected of them. Meeting preparation leads to great meeting execution.

Pick Up Where You Left Off

This is particularly important if your meeting is recurring, but picking up the meeting where you left off can be vital to productivity. Spend a little time reviewing your last meeting, then get right to work. Since you've already let everyone know what you plan to discuss and made sure the right people are there to discuss it, you'll be able to accomplish the action items from your last meeting and create new ones for your next one.

Get Everyone in the Same Room

When you have to stop mid-meeting to try to get everyone back on topic you are losing precious time and frustrating those who have other places to be.

Everyone Knows What's Expected After the Meeting

Creating an agenda is not only about ensuring that everyone has done their due diligence before the meeting but also about making sure that they know what is expected of them afterward. Every productive meeting has action items to be completed either before the next meeting or before the next phase of the project can be completed. Make an actionable agenda from the beginning, and reap the rewards after.

Power to the People

Getting off topic during a meeting is often not the result of being unfocused or undisciplined but is rather due to people wanting to be heard. You need to see this need not as a hurdle to be overcome but as a strength to be harnessed. By creating an effective agenda and inviting the appropriate people to ensure that your goals can be accomplished, you are letting participants know that you intend to address their concerns as long as they stick to the meeting agenda. People are naturally more willing to follow an agenda if they can see in advance how the meeting benefits them.