By: Alyse Kalish for The Muse, Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash
Raise your hand if you’ve found yourself in one of the following situations at work:
- A meeting that runs over and forces you to either show up late to your next meeting, be unable to complete a project on time, or miss an after-work event.
- A meeting that’s so disorganized you come out of it thinking, what just happened?
- A meeting that ends up being a complete waste of time.
Do I see everyone’s hands in the air? Thought so. Every single one of these problems could be solved with one simple thing: a meeting agenda.
What is this magical concept, you ask? A document that covers the following items:
- What you need to prepare beforehand or bring to the meeting
- Who’s attending
- Why you’re meeting and any goals you want to accomplish
- What you’ll talk about, who will talk about what, and how much time each topic will take to discuss
- Any next steps you want to take after meeting
You’ve probably used something like this before, but in a less formal way. For example, maybe you’ve filled out the notes section of your calendar invite to let people know what documents they should reference. Or, you’ve sent out an email briefly outlining the point of that Tuesday meeting you just invited the entire company to.
But having a more in-depth, concrete layout for exactly how your meeting should and will go can be so incredibly useful. For one thing, it’s crucial documentation—by putting down in writing what you talked about and the decisions you made, you have something you can reference should anyone (including your boss) question your future decisions.
And for another thing, it helps even the most ragtag group of people stay organized and focused, while also holding them accountable. People can come to the conversation prepared, meaning that you can use your limited time together efficiently, you can feel confident the meeting was productive, and you can more easily identify actionable next steps.
And lucky for you, we’ve created an agenda template you can fill out right now and that’ll save you time writing out your own. Just open the doc, make a copy, and have your team leader fill it out.
After you fill it out, send it to everyone involved when you schedule your meeting. (It may be wise to include a note that says Please review the meeting agenda before we meet on [date].)
An agenda is helpful for just about any kind of meeting. For check-ins it provides transparency and time to prepare any follow-up questions, for client meetings it shows leadership, for group brainstorms it ensures you don’t get distracted, and for everyone it shows that you value their time.