View of a meeting agenda sitting on a table lined with leather swivel chairs.
Image: Rubencress/Shutterstock

How to make a meeting agenda that actually works

22 Jun 2018

If you find that your meetings lose the run of themselves, a well-made agenda could help you take back control.

Meetings are a bit of a necessary evil in working life. It’s often a struggle to keep people engaged and they can be fraught affairs for the more introverted among us. Nevertheless, their usefulness in helping to inspire and coordinate collaboration means that they likely aren’t going anywhere any time soon.

One of the most frustrating elements of meetings for many is how quickly they can get totally off-track. A survey of 182 senior managers conducted by Harvard Business Review revealed that 71pc found meetings to be unproductive and inefficient, 65pc said meetings keep them from completing their own work, and 64pc said meetings come at the expense of deep thinking.

Yet if anything, we’re having more meetings than ever. According to research published by the MIT Sloan School of Management, meetings have increased in length and frequency over the past 50 years and executives now spend almost 23 hours per week in them – more than double the length of time that was spent in the 1960s.

Perhaps you’ve already resigned yourself to the reality that meetings will chip away at the amount of time you have in a given week. All hope is not lost, though – with some planning, you can ensure that your meetings are the most productive and efficient they could possibly be, and it all starts with your agenda.

Start your meeting by assessing whether the agenda addresses everything that needs to be covered. It may emerge that an item on the list has already resolved, or that there has been a glaring admission. You can attend to these things right off the bat and redistribute time as necessary, which will save time in the long run.

When you’re making the agenda, try to be realistic with the time you allot to each issue. It can be tempting to make projections based on the most ideal outcome, but try to resist this temptation and meditate soberly on the number of people involved and how complex the issue is. This will help you arrive at more realistic timeframes. While this may result in your meetings being longer, you won’t find yourself losing time you didn’t expect to lose because of meetings.

For some more handy tips, check out the infographic below brought to you by The Business Backer.

Infographic: The Business Backer

Eva Short
By Eva Short

Eva Short was a journalist at Silicon Republic, specialising in the areas of tech, data privacy, business, cybersecurity, AI, automation and future of work, among others.

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