If phrases like these sound familiar, then you absolutely need to modify your meeting agendas. By using a professional meeting agenda, you will reach your goals more quickly and achieve many more benefits.
Take a few minutes to search your inbox for the latest meeting invitations you’ve received. You will probably find some invitations that simply specify the meeting place, the time and the purpose, e.g. something like “Update Project XYZ.” The agenda text is probably a generic statement, such as “We plan to discuss the progress of the project.” So why is a professional meeting agenda so important? And the emphasis here is on “professional.”
A professional meeting agenda can help you to:
- Drastically reduce the time you spend in meetings
- Motivate your team to actively participate
- Save a lot of time following up on meetings
- Collaborate more efficiently with your participants or project colleagues
- Leave a professional impression on your external partners and customers
What belongs in a professional meeting agenda
Let’s have a look at the information that should be included in a professional meeting agenda. You can also do a little test – look at the last meeting invitation you received and compare it with the items listed on the right.
Now consider how much better the meeting would have been if all this information had been included in the meeting agenda.
11 details that belong in every meeting agenda
- The date and time of the meeting, including start and end time
- The location – face to face or online meeting? (Provide the joining link if hosting an online meeting)
- The participants who should attend
- The individual items that you want to discuss during your meeting
- The people you need to participate and talk about the individual items
- Start and end time for each of the agenda items
- A reminder for people to provide an update about action items from the last meeting (if required)
- All required presentation materials
- Background material that your participants should read to prepare themselves
- Contact information in case there are questions about the agenda
- Summary and next steps
Professional meeting agenda example
But what does a professional meeting agenda actually look like? In the following example, the international director of communications, Susan Longear, is planning a project meeting with the communications department in Germany. She wants to discuss the use of a new infographic on the topic of work-life balance.
Ruth Caroll, who works in the finance department, has also been invited to the meeting. She’s scheduled to give a brief overview of the project’s budget. Otherwise, her presence is not really required. A note next to her name shows that she’s only required to attend the meeting from 5:30 to 6:00pm.
Prior to the subsequent Q&A session, Susan Longear will summarise the approved next steps and name the persons responsible for executing them. To ensure that all project participants can optimally prepare for the meeting, Susan Longear will send out the last five press releases and copies of the published articles together with the meeting agenda.
The professional meeting agenda might then look something like the one depicted on the next page:
Template for Professional Meeting Agendas
Use the following template to design your future meeting agendas. Simply copy the template to your meeting invitation and complete it.
9 Important tips for meeting agendas
A professional meeting agenda is like a roadmap that guides all meeting participants through the topic you wish to discuss. It also serves as a type of anchor that helps to prevent you from straying from the topic or - if it has already happened - helps you to lead your participants back to the actual topic at hand.
Here are 9 professional tips you should keep in mind when preparing your agenda:
- Invite only the people whose participation is absolutely necessary.
- Send out the agenda in good time ahead of the meeting so people can prepare. If you haven’t prepared an agenda within 24 hours of the meeting, then you may need to postpone.
- Select a date and time for your meetings that is convenient for all participants - this is especially important if you have international participants.
- For international meetings, make sure that you convert the date and time to the participant‘s local date and local time.
- Send out a reminder email - together with the agenda - a few hours before the meeting starts.
- You don‘t always need everyone to be there for the whole meeting. If you need certain people for just a single agenda item, you should specify this in the agenda as well.
- Appoint somebody as timekeeper, to keep everyone on track as specified in the agenda.
- After welcoming the participants, give a brief overview of your meeting agenda.
- At the end of the meeting, review the agenda again and summarise the action items agreed upon.
If you follow these tips, you can save a lot of time. You will receive fewer queries, and your meetings will run more efficiently, increasing overall productivity.
Hold meetings anytime, anywhere
So now you know how easy it is to leave a professional impression on your meeting participants. With GoToMeeting, holding online meetings and video conferences is just as easy. You don‘t even need a meeting room, because the physical location of your participants is no longer important. Thanks to mobile apps, you can always connect with your team, customers or business partners while on the go.
7 benefits of online meetings with GoToMeeting
- Work independently from any location
- Easy to use for everyday work
- No need to schedule conference rooms
- Hold group video conferences for optimal team-building
- Substantial cost savings by reducing business trips
- Collaborate on documents in real time from different locations
- More free time thanks to the elimination of unproductive travel time