What’s the Plan? The Importance of an Agenda

10 Oct

If there is one thing I can advise you, it is to learn from my mistakes. My freshman year, I was oblivious to an integral component of team meetings—an agenda. Since the agenda’s implementation into my meetings, however, I have found myself utilizing this simple technique not only in group settings, but also whenever I sit down to work on homework. It provides a scheduled allotment of time that helps you stay on track and accomplish things faster and more effectively. An agenda truly makes the difference between a successful meeting and an unproductive meeting that, more often than not, turns into a social gathering.

A leader should create an agenda to create purpose to the meeting, better facilitate discussion, and consequently respect everyone’s time. Participants should also be selected carefully to ensure that the meeting is as small and efficient as possible.  Every minute is used effectively when an agenda is used because you know how time is going to be allocated. This strategy keeps a meeting on topic and gives it a base to return to if the group becomes unfocused on the topic at hand. Additionally, the agenda must be reviewed at the start of the discussion to reinforce the reason for the meeting.

An agenda needs to have 1) the topics being discussed in the meeting, 2) a time allotment for each topic, and 3) a person to lead that portion of the meeting. In order for the agenda to serve its purpose most effectively, send it as early as possible to all participants so that everyone can have ample time to prepare and thus contribute during the meeting. With this preparation time, every participant will be able to bring relevant information and documents to contribute to the creative atmosphere.

All too often, it is easy to neglect having face-to-face meetings and resort to online tools to communicate and collaborate. Nonetheless, meetings can be far more effective, innovative, and creative when the traditional but proven strategy of implementing an agenda is used.  I have personally benefitted greatly from the implementation of an agenda in my daily life and can attest that, when used appropriately, an agenda will increase productivity exponentially in both individual and team environments.

I have made an example agenda to use as a template, but remember: not every agenda should look the same since different material needs to be addressed in different ways. So make your agenda meeting-specific and look forward to never ending productivity!

by Andi Hibbert

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