• Westwood International

How to Write A Strong Agenda

Have you found yourself stuck in unproductive meetings, watching the time go by, thinking about all of the work that needs to be done? We get it; we’ve all been there. Whether your meeting is to debrief, brainstorm, strategize, onboard, etc., your meeting should always have a purpose.

So let’s make 2021 the year of productivity, shall we?

Why do I need an agenda? I feel confident that I can wing it and still have a great meeting.

That’s so great that you’re feeling confident and ready to take on your meeting, but others may not be in the same headspace. Think about a time where you wish you could have contributed an idea but didn’t have any time to prepare appropriately. This is where an agenda comes in.

Agendas are a great tool to give your attendees time to prepare, set clear objectives and expectations, clarify responsibilities, and support time management. Furthermore, time management supports a productive day, saves your business time and money, and is a great way to show respect and honor your coworkers’ time.

Picture this: efficient meetings that are filled with creativity, innovative ideas, and group participation. It sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? Luckily, we have the tools to make this dream a reality!

How to Write a Strong Agenda

The three essential parts of a strong agenda are topic, preparation, and structure. This format aims to offer suggestions for the best ways to prepare and give a concrete outline to efficiently streamline your time together.

With any structure or system, the key to success is consistency. Get in the routine of sharing your agenda at least three days in advance to allow attendees to prepare. Not sure where to begin? Start with the basics! Include when the meeting occurs, the duration, who will be attending (include only the essential people), and where it will take place - whether it is an in-person location or a link to a remote meeting.

Here’s a detailed example to help give you a format to follow.

Hi everyone,

This Thursday at 2 pm, we will have a meeting to check how everyone is doing with their hybrid teams, and brainstorm solutions to challenges leaders are currently experiencing. I’ve included people leaders from different departments to create a space for innovative and creative thinking. Please see the agenda below for the breakdown of our time and ways to best prepare.

  1. Introduction

  2. Preparation: Think of a proud moment that you experienced with your team in the past few months and a current challenge that you’re facing.

  3. Structure: Go around and share your name, department, proud moment, and current challenge

  4. Time: 10 minutes

  5. Review + Identify

  6. Preparation: Actively listen and take notes on commonalities that you’re hearing

  7. Structure: Review the key issues and work together to find the root cause

  8. Time: 10 minutes

  9. Strategize + Action Items

  10. Preparation: Why do you think this is happening? What advice would you give to yourself?

  11. Structure: Propose possible solutions, create clear actions items, and determine a time to schedule a meeting again to check in on progress.

  12. Time: 10 minutes

  13. Conclusion

  14. Structure: Highlight all of the proud moments that everyone mentioned, and summarize the solutions to ensure that everyone is on the same page and there is no miscommunication.

  15. Time: 5 minutes

If anyone has any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out; I’m happy to answer them. Thank you all for your time and for bringing your creative minds to the table; I’m looking forward to seeing the solutions we can create together!

Looking at the template in full, you can see that the preparation, action items, and time allowances are identified and clearly outlined. If you are worried about sticking to those time frames, ask for a volunteer to help watch the time. When 2 minutes are remaining and when it’s time to move on, have them wave their hands or audibly notify the team. Feeling uncertain about what details to include? Put yourself in the recipients’ shoes and think about what you’d like to know to feel fully present and ready to dive in.

This structure might feel formal at first, but not only is it best to fully communicate your expectations ahead of time, but it’s one of the things that makes great leaders stand out. Cheers to you and your productive meetings!

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