Whenever a Business Meeting veers off-track, participants arrive unprepared, and topics become irrelevant — these problems often arise due to poor agenda design. That’s why an effective agenda increases the productivity of the overall business meeting.
Simply, because it establishes expectations on what needs to occur before, during, and after a meeting. So, it helps get everyone on the same page on the most important topics. While at the same time, enabling the team to quickly address key issues.
An effective agenda also helps team members prepare well enough and allocate their time wisely. It quickly gets everyone on the same topic and identifies when the discussion is complete.
In short, if problems still occur during the meeting, a well-designed agenda can be a lifesaver. By increasing the team’s ability to effectively and quickly address the tabled issues. But, before we all jump to the rhythm, it is important that we introduce ourselves to a business meeting.
What is Business Meeting?
By all means, a business meeting is a gathering of two or more people to discuss ideas, goals, and objectives that concern the workplace. And in most cases, a business meeting needs to take place when the issue at hand is something that cannot be properly communicated. May it be over the phone or via email.
In this case, it requires face-to-face interaction with one or more people. Bearing in mind, it can be conducted in person at an office or at a different location. And basically, it can take place within employees, managers, executives, clients, prospects, suppliers, and partners. Or anyone else related or even affiliated to the organization.
Keep in mind, with the rise of video conferencing software platforms – like Zoom, participants can join a business meeting from anywhere.
Too often, we’ve all been in meetings that were run poorly, included the wrong people, and didn’t lead to concrete objectives. By improving how meetings are run, businesses have a major way to a safety run. By immediately improving on the way time is managed and how team members collaborate.
6 Most Common Types of Meetings are;
- Status Update Meetings
- Decision-Making Meetings
- Problem-Solving Meetings
- Team-Building Meetings
- Idea-Sharing Meetings
- Innovation Meetings
Of course, by following best practices, using the right team collaboration tools, and holding everyone accountable can significantly improve your meeting experience.
What is the Purpose of a Business Meeting?
As companies become more focused on efficiency, productivity, and profitability, it has become essential that businesses look at their numbers. This ensures that their time, money, and manpower are being put to good use. And one of the biggest opportunities lies in assessing how business meetings are run.
The purpose of a business meeting is often to make important decisions regarding the organization. Whether it’s deciding on a departmental issue, such as how to grow the marketing budget, or a larger organizational matter, like how many people to lay off during a time of transition.
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A meeting helps to convey ideas clearly. When speaking in person with important stakeholders, it’s easier to get across important information effectively in order to reach the decision in question.
Another common objective for meetings includes making important announcements. These can be about organizational changes, operational plans, or a change in company direction. Often, meetings are held when senior executives join or leave the team. Or when the company is celebrating a major milestone or success.
These kinds of meetings can work to increase employee engagement and organizational harmony. They also help to resolve conflict and solve complex problems. Conflict can be a common occurrence in the workplace. Especially, with many different personalities working together on a team.
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While some conflict is healthy and can foster growth, it can also be undesirable and require quick resolution. Holding a meeting can help the disagreeing parties to reach an understanding. Larger problems that involve multiple stakeholders have a better chance of being resolved in a business meeting.
And when the important people in question are all in one place and working toward the same goal. All in all, reviewing a company or project progress is also a common objective of business meetings.
What should be included in the Agenda?
Meeting agendas are optional, right? Business meetings can be held for many reasons. For instance, to discuss a topic, find a plan of action, or update team members on the status of a project. After you’ve established the purpose and need for your meeting, then the next step is to create an agenda.
An effective agenda increases the productivity of the overall meeting because it establishes expectations on what needs to occur before, during, and after a meeting. It helps get everyone on the same page on the most important topics and enables the team to quickly address key issues.
As Stephen Covey writes in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “Begin with the end in mind.” Agendas are lists of items that participants hope to accomplish at a meeting.
Agendas most often include:
- Informational items – sharing out updates regarding a topic for the group. For example, a manager may provide an update on the year-end planning process.
- Action items – items that you expect the group will want to review during the meeting. For example, performance against a specific time period or trajectory on a product launch.
- Discussion topics – items that you want the group to provide feedback on. For example, collecting input on an upcoming commute policy change and questions that the team has about it.
In addition to this, they’ll often include specific details on how the meeting will be run.
For example, agenda topics will often specify who will be presenting and for how long. Particularly, in order to establish expectations on who will be responsible for preparing the content. And even so, how much time they will have to present it.
3 Reasons why Meeting Agendas are Necessary
- If none of the topics are relevant for one person, they can skip the meeting and focus on the tasks they’re responsible for.
- A numbered agenda is a powerful organizational tool. If you refer to the agenda often, you can stay in control of your meeting and the amount of time spent on a topic.
- Agendas can be used as a feedback mechanism for whether or not your meetings are successful.
3 Positive Outcomes of Meeting Agendas are;
- Attending unnecessary meetings results in lost productivity, which means lost revenue for the company.
- A clear agenda saves time, as it keeps the discussion on track.
- The agenda can be used as a checklist to track what has been accomplished in the meeting.
How formal should an Agenda be?
Often, people don’t feel like they have the time to prepare for a meeting much less write a full formal meeting agenda.
When the stakes are high or the situation is very formal, it may make sense to include a formal pre-distributed agenda as well as capture meeting minutes.
However, the pragmatic approach is to make agendas as simple as possible to meet the task at hand.
Which are the 3 Key Elements for Effective Agendas?
Depending on the meeting, agendas can be distributed well in advance of a meeting. Or even shared at the start of the meeting. It establishes the goal of the meeting and ensures everyone is on the same page on what you’d like to accomplish in that timeframe.
A meeting without a clear agenda can be compared to a ship that’s sailing without a map. Whereby, you’re on the sea and going somewhere, but no one knows where.
In order to ensure your ship is on the right course, send a copy of your well-written agenda to your team. Particularly, 24 hours in advance and have paper copies ready for the participants at the start of the meeting.
The 3 Key Elements of Business Meeting Agendas are;
- Basic information like the location, names of expected participants, date, start time, and end time of the meeting. Even better, estimate the amount of time necessary for each agenda item – and stick to it. If something unimportant comes up, add it to your topics Parking Lot. Or create an agenda item called AOB (any other business) that can be discussed if there is the time at the end of the meeting. The AOB item can also be added to the agenda of the next meeting.
- The topic and the person responsible for it. If someone sees their name in writing next to a topic, they’ll know they’re expected to speak and can prepare for the meeting.
- An objective for each item, or for the meeting in general. If you’re searching for a reason for the meeting and you can’t find one easily, perhaps this meeting isn’t necessary.
Of course, there are many other elements that can make meeting agendas even more effective.
Above all, after committing to using an agenda and following the above steps, your meetings will be more efficient. And the attendees become more interested in contributing.
Finally, if you have other ideas for creating agendas or making meetings more efficient, please share them in the comments section below. You can also Contact Us if you’ll need more support or help.
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