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How to create a meeting agenda

How many meetings do you attend each week? How many of these meetings leave you thinking “that was really helpful”? I would guess in one month, there are roughly 10 out of 50 meetings that actually accomplish the intended objective. How can we change this dynamic?  One of the most important features of a meeting, like most things, is being prepared. The leader of the meeting should prepare an agenda to determine what needs to be covered and accomplished.

This is the foremost priority to determine whether you need the meeting in the first place. As a leader of the meeting, here are a few tips to help design your meeting and its intended purpose:

  1. What items need to be covered

Ask yourself what is the purpose of the meeting? What questions are you asking and what questions you need answered. It is important to identify the specific points and list them out. Writing things down helps formulate them in an external format instead of just in your head.

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  1. What items need to be accomplished – frame your points as a question, not a statement

Instead of listing out items to discuss, frame the items as a question to ensure you get the intended result. Be specific. For example, a statement would read “Improve our budgets on each job”. This is very vague and covers many clients and various scenarios. If the item was framed as a question it would sound as such “how can we reduce the budget on each job?” This allows the topic to be more focused on a specific solution.

  1. Each item on your agenda should be an actionable step

After you created your list from #1 and #2, attach an actionable step to each item. Following our budget example, a more detailed question would say “how can we reduce our budget by 10% on a specific client? Where did we spend the most time on that job?” Now, this becomes a more specific talking point of how to accomplish that goal by each individual. This helps determine when a solution has been accomplished. Each person can take ownership of the solution and the discussion will be more directed, reducing the overall time it takes to get there.

  1. How many people need to attend? Can this meeting be accomplished with a small 2-3-person office meeting?

There is no need to include individuals that may not contribute or benefit from attending. We want to prioritize each person’s time. Sometimes, the meeting only has two people really making decisions and deciding what steps need to take place. This might be better scheduled as a 30-minute office meeting instead of 5 people getting into a conference room for an hour.

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  1. Do you already know the answer?

Do not underestimate your knowledge. Sometimes we are looking for validation or follow the formalized process that has always been there. You might already know the answer and just need your Supervisor to confirm the action item. If that’s the case, maybe all that’s needed is an email.

Do you still have any questions on creating a meeting agenda? Feel free to contact a Henry+Horne professional to assist you in making the perfect plan. At Henry+Horne, we meet with hundreds of people a week, so we’ve learned a few tools to make a good meeting agenda.


Noemi Barter