Meeting agenda examples: How to plan, write, and implement

Immagine collaboratore Team di AsanaTeam Asana
1 dicembre 2023
13 minuti di lettura
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Summary

There’s a good chance you’ve experienced that painful feeling that arises when you’re unsure why you’re in a meeting and don’t know what to expect. Meetings without agendas tend to cause that feeling—that’s why we believe meeting agendas should be an integral part of your meeting culture.

An effective agenda communicates the purpose of your meeting, gives your team the chance to prepare their agenda items, and keeps everyone on track.

Whether you’re preparing for your next board meeting, staff meeting, or business meeting, we’ll help you write an agenda that will maximize your meeting’s potential.

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What is a meeting agenda?

A meeting agenda serves as a structured roadmap for your meeting, detailing the topics and activities planned. Its primary role is to provide meeting participants with a clear framework, outlining the sequence of events, the leader for each agenda item, and the time allocated for each task. By having this agenda as a guide both before and throughout the meeting, it helps to facilitate an efficient and productive flow of discussion.

How to write a meeting agenda

Crafting a meeting agenda is a key step in ensuring a focused and productive meeting. Here's how to do it effectively.

1. Clarify meeting objectives

The first step in writing a meeting agenda is to clearly define any goals. In clarifying the goal, be as specific as possible. This specificity helps guide the discussion and ensure that the meeting remains focused. It also helps stakeholders prepare for the meeting.

For example, if the goal is to finalize the budget for the next quarter or discuss new business, participants would come prepared with relevant data and insights.

A well-defined goal also helps set the meeting's tone and align everyone's expectations. This clarity leads to a more structured discussion and a more productive meeting overall.

[inline illustration] how to state the purpose of a meeting in an agenda (infographic)

2. Invite participant input

Inviting input from participants before finalizing the agenda is a critical step in creating a comprehensive and inclusive meeting plan. This involves reaching out to potential attendees and asking if there's anything specific they would like to discuss or add to the meeting agenda.

For example, if you're planning a meeting for a project team, you could send an email asking each member to suggest topics they feel are important to address. This could reveal issues or ideas you hadn't considered, ensuring a more well-rounded agenda.

Incorporating participant input not only makes the agenda more comprehensive but also increases engagement. When team members see their suggestions included, they feel valued and are more likely to participate actively in the meeting. It also ensures that the meeting addresses the concerns of all attendees.

Gathering input can be done through various channels, like email, shared docs, or team collaboration tools. The key is to make it easy for meeting participants to contribute and to ensure their suggestions are considered and, where appropriate, included in the final agenda.

Read: 6-step guide to requirements gathering for project success

3. Outline key questions for discussion

Making a list of important things to talk about is important for keeping the meeting on track and focused. Start by identifying the main meeting topics that need to be addressed and framing them as questions.

For instance, if the meeting is to discuss the progress of an ongoing project, key questions might include:

  • What are the current roadblocks in the project?

  • How are we tracking against the project timeline

  • What resources are needed to maintain the pace of work?

These questions serve as talking points and a guide for the discussion, ensuring that all relevant topics are covered. They also help in structuring the conversation, making it easier for participants to prepare and engage effectively.

4. Define each task’s purpose

Each task or topic on the agenda should have a clearly defined purpose. This transparency helps participants understand the importance of each discussion point and how it relates to the overall goal of the meeting.

For example, if one of the agenda items is to review recent client feedback and performance metrics, the purpose might be to identify areas for improvement in customer service. By stating this purpose, participants can focus their thoughts on this specific objective, leading to a more targeted and fruitful discussion.

Defining the purpose of each task also helps prevent the meeting from going off track. When participants understand why a topic is being discussed, they are less likely to veer off-topic, making the meeting more efficient.

Read: How to prioritize tasks in 4 steps (and get work done)

5. Allocate time for agenda items

Effective meeting management requires allotting time for each item on the agenda. This includes determining the amount of time needed for each meeting topic or task and scheduling the meeting appropriately.

For instance, if you have five items on your agenda, you might allocate 10 minutes for a brief update, 20 minutes for brainstorming, and 15 minutes for discussing action items. This time allocation should be based on the complexity and importance of each topic.

Effective time management requires being realistic with your time estimates and factoring in extra time for unforeseen conversations or inquiries. This approach helps in keeping the meeting within the scheduled time frame, respecting everyone's time, and maintaining focus.

6. Assign topic facilitators

Assigning facilitators for each topic on the agenda can greatly enhance the effectiveness of the meeting. A facilitator’s role is to guide the discussion, make certain that the conversation stays on track, and that all voices are heard.

For example, if one of the agenda items is to discuss sales strategies, you might assign this topic to a senior salesperson. Their expertise and familiarity with the subject can help steer the conversation productively.

Facilitators should be chosen based on their knowledge of the topic and their ability to manage group discussions. They should also be briefed on their role and the expectations for the discussion.

7. Write the meeting agenda

Finally, compile all the elements into a structured and comprehensive agenda. The agenda should include the meeting’s goal, a list of topics to be discussed with their purposes, time allocations, and assigned facilitators. This structure provides a clear roadmap for the meeting, ensuring that all important points are covered.

Share the agenda with all participants well in advance of the meeting. This allows them to prepare and ensures that everyone is on the same page. A well-written agenda is a key tool in running an effective and productive meeting.

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Tips to create an effective meeting agenda

Let’s start with some of our favorite tips on creating great meeting agendas so you can make the most of yours:

  • Create and share your meeting agenda as early as possible. At the very latest, you should share your meeting agenda an hour before the meeting time. This allows everyone to prepare for what’s going to happen. Your team can also relay questions or additional agenda items to you for a potential adjustment before the meeting. Besides, when your team members have a chance to properly prepare themselves, they’ll have a much easier time focusing during the meeting.

  • Link to any relevant pre-reading materials in advance. This can be the presentation deck, additional context, or a previous decision. Everyone arriving at the meeting will be on the same page and ready to move the discussion forward rather than asking a ton of questions that take up relevant time.

  • Assign facilitators for each agenda item. Remember that feeling of being called on in school when you didn’t know the answer? It’s a pretty terrible feeling that we’re sure you don’t want to evoke in your teammates. By assigning a facilitator for each agenda item before the meeting, you allow them to prepare for a quick rundown of the topic, questions, and feedback.

  • Define and prioritize your agenda items. Differentiate between the three categories of agenda items: informational, discussion topics, and action items. Clarifying the purpose of each agenda item helps your team member understand what’s most important and what to focus on. You’ll also want to prioritize which items are most important and absolutely have to be discussed during the meeting and which ones can be addressed asynchronously, should the clock run out.

  • Use your meeting agenda during the meeting to track notes and action items. That way, all of the meeting information is in one place. If anyone has questions about decisions or action items from the meeting, they have an easy place to find it. Bonus: Do this in Asana so you can assign out action items and next steps to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Asana also integrates with Zoom and pulls in your Zoom recording or meeting transcript directly into the meeting agenda task.

[inline illustration] 3 types of agenda items (infographic)
  • Create flow by categorizing your agenda items. To maximize productivity, you’ll want to create a meeting agenda that flows well. Batch similar items together and ensure they can build off of one another. For example, list any informational items before the discussion items so your team has all of the information going into the discussion.

  • Allocate enough time for each item on your agenda. Nobody will complain about a meeting that runs short—keeping everyone longer than anticipated isn’t as much fun. Plan sufficient time for each agenda item by calculating an estimated time and adding a couple of minutes as a buffer. This will help with keeping your team on track and moving on from a topic when the time runs out.

By sticking to these best practices, you can ensure that your meeting agenda is a reliable tool and does the job—before, during, and after your meeting.

Leggi: Nove modi per migliorare l'efficienza del tuo team sul lavoro

Why are meeting agendas important?

Whether you work from home and take virtual calls or sit in the office and meet in person, meetings can be incredibly draining. Beginning with some small talk may be nice to get to know each other better or catch up on what everyone did this past weekend but it certainly isn’t goal-oriented or productive. A meeting agenda can help your team maximize the potential of each meeting you hold.

Our research shows that unnecessary meetings accounted for 157 hours of “work” in 2020, compared to 103 in 2019. Considering a 40-hour work week, that’s almost four weeks of wasted time. This is where your meeting agenda comes in. If you’re doing it right, writing your meeting agenda is the first and best indicator of whether or not your meeting is actually necessary. If you find that everything on your meeting agenda can be discussed asynchronously, you can cancel the meeting and share your message in a time-saving email.

That isn’t to say all meetings should be replaced by emails. If you’re sure that the meeting is justified and necessary in order to drive your team’s progress, have that meeting. However, always make sure that you create an agenda before getting together so your team members know what you’ll be discussing and why the meeting matters.

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Here are a few more great reasons to have meeting agendas:

  • Your agenda allows everyone to prepare for the meeting. Ideally, every item on your agenda will have a dedicated topic facilitator. When everyone going into the meeting knows what their responsibilities are in advance, they have time to prepare and will be more efficient during the meeting.

  • It shows you’re considerate of your team’s time. When your team receives a well-thought-out meeting agenda, they’ll immediately see that the meeting is actually necessary. Besides, it’s also a roadmap that will keep you on track during the meeting and ensure no time is wasted.

[inline illustration] be considerate of your team's time in a meeting (infographic)
  • An agenda sets clear expectations of what will and won’t be discussed. Think of a meeting agenda as a way of setting boundaries and ensuring that only topics on the agenda will be talked about. If anything comes up during the meeting that needs to be discussed, write it down in your minutes and return to it later. Either at the end of your meeting—if you got through it faster than expected—asynchronously, or in the next meeting.

  • It keeps your team on track. Your meeting agenda will prevent your team from drifting off—whether that’s discussing non-agenda topics (like the barbecue at Kat’s place last night) or taking too much time for an item that had specific time allocated.

  • Your agenda will provide purpose, structure, and opportunities to collaborate. With a clear plan for everyone to follow, your team will go into the meeting knowing the purpose and goal of the meeting. Your meeting agenda also allows your team to direct their attention toward opportunities to collaborate, whether that’s during a brainstorming session, a town hall, or your daily standup.

  • Track next steps and action items so nothing falls through the cracks. Keep your agenda open during the meeting to capture any next steps or action items. By adding them directly into the agenda, these items won’t be forgotten when the meeting ends.

Meetings are great opportunities for your team to bond but the time spent on small talk can be worked into the first few minutes of the agenda rather than surfacing every now and then during the meeting, disrupting the flow and productivity or your team’s discussion.

Meeting agenda examples

We’ve discussed what makes a good meeting agenda and what you should avoid doing but, as always, it’s easiest to learn from a real life example. Let’s take a look at a project kickoff meeting agenda created in Asana:

[Interfaccia utente del prodotto] Ordine del giorno di una riunione di avvio di un progetto su Asana (attività)
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As you can see, each item has a timebox and a teammate assigned to ensure everyone knows when it’s their turn and how long they have to lead their discussion or give their presentation. The agenda also has relevant files attached and is shared with all team members for visibility and better collaboration.

Meetings are a staple in the professional world, each with its own unique focus and dynamics. Understanding how to tailor your meeting agenda to the type of meeting you're conducting is key to ensuring effective communication and teamwork. Here are some common types of meetings and examples of how to structure their agendas.

Team meeting agenda

Team meetings serve as a platform for team building, decision making, and brainstorming. They can vary in frequency and duration but are essential for ensuring alignment and forward momentum. Effective team meeting agendas should include recurring items for regular meetings and space for new, ad-hoc topics. It’s also vital to track next steps and responsibilities assigned during the meeting. An example of a 45-minute team meeting agenda might cover metrics, a round-table plan, identification of blockers, and recognition of team members' contributions​​.

Daily Scrum meeting agenda

Daily scrum meetings, or stand-ups, are brief, focused gatherings aimed at keeping the team aligned during a sprint. These meetings typically cover blockers, a recap of the previous day’s work, goals for the current day, and progress towards sprint goals. The agility of these meetings helps in maintaining momentum and addressing issues promptly.

Project kickoff meeting agenda

Project kickoff meetings bring together cross-functional teams to start a new project. These meetings set the tone for the project and align everyone on objectives and expectations. The agenda should cover the project brief, roles and responsibilities, meeting cadence, actionable next steps, and a Q&A session to clarify doubts and ensure everyone is on the same page​​.

Retrospective meeting agenda

A retrospective meeting is a type of recurring meeting focused on reflecting on a past period of work, usually at the end of a project cycle or sprint. Its main purpose is to share information among team members about what worked well and what didn't. During the meeting, the entire team discusses various meeting topics, including successes, challenges, and blockers that impacted their work. This process helps in identifying areas for improvement and developing strategies to address any issues. Retrospective meetings are vital for continuous team development and ensuring better outcomes in future work cycles.

One-on-one meeting agenda

One-on-one meetings, whether they are between a manager and a direct report, peer-to-peer, or skip-level, are crucial for discussing work projects, roadblocks, and career development. They are foundational for building trust.

A good agenda for these meetings should balance topics like motivation, communication, growth, and work-related discussions. Avoid status updates; those are better suited for stand-up meetings. Sample questions for a weekly one-on-one might include assessing highlights and lowlights of the week, discussing any blockers, and inquiring about work-life balance​​.

Remote one-on-one meeting agenda

Remote one-on-one meetings require a slightly different approach, with a focus on rapport-building and clear communication. Since physical presence is lacking, these meetings benefit from a shared online agenda accessible to all participants. Key points could include checking in on general well-being, discussing current work assignments, and addressing any immediate concerns or assistance needed​​.

Leggi: Perché le riunioni individuali sono fondamentali per il successo del tuo team

Skip-level meeting agenda

Skip-level meetings, involving senior managers and employees not in their direct report chain, offer a chance to connect across organizational levels. These meetings are ideal for discussing broader career development and providing feedback to senior leadership. Agenda items might cover clarity on company strategies and goals, personal professional objectives, and suggestions for organizational improvements​​.

Leadership team meeting agenda

Leadership team meetings are vital for strategic decision-making and issue resolution at the highest levels of an organization. An effective agenda for such meetings might include personal updates, reviewing key metrics, sharing wins and insights, discussing important messages, addressing pressing issues, and allocating time for an open discussion or "hot seat" session where specific topics are addressed in-depth​​.

Each type of meeting, be it an all-hands gathering, one-on-one discussion, performance review, or team brainstorming session, requires a thoughtfully crafted agenda to avoid unproductive meetings and keep discussions on track.

By using these meeting agenda examples, you can ensure that each meeting, regardless of its format, contributes meaningfully to the organization's goals and enhances teamwork and collaboration.

Leggi: Cinque suggerimenti per condurre grandi riunioni

Running an effective meeting

It’s one thing to have an amazingly organized and detailed agenda that your team can reference before the meeting—using it as a tool during the meeting is a whole other ballpark. These tips will help you make your meeting agenda as useful during the meeting as it is as a preparation tool

  • Stick to your agenda. The best agenda becomes useless if you don’t stick to it during the meeting. Try not to bounce back and forth between agenda items but rather stick to the priorities you established earlier.

  • Stick to your timeboxes. It absolutely helps release some tension and lighten the mood if you have a bit of small talk or a quick check-in at the beginning of your meeting. That’s why you should allocate three to five minutes to this—and stick to the timeframe. Pictures of Kabir’s son’s adorable Halloween costume can be shared elsewhere so you have enough time to reach your meeting’s goals now.

  • Designate a note taker. At the beginning of the meeting, designate a note taker who will write down any questions, feedback, tasks, and ideas that come up during the meeting. You can rotate this position so everyone on your team gets to contribute at some point. Ideally, these notes are taken in the same place as the meeting agenda—this will make it a lot easier for team members to follow the notes and link them to agenda items. Notes can also be directly entered into Asana for real-time updating and tracking

  • Follow up after the meeting. Typically, the note taker will be responsible for following up with the meeting notes afterward. The notes should include any decisions that were made during the meeting, tasks that need to be completed, and questions that remained unanswered. If possible, assign teammates and add due dates to action items to keep accountability high. To ensure that these action items are tracked and completed, they should be promptly added to our Asana project management tool.

Read: How to write a memo for effective communication (with template)

Make the most out of every meeting

With Asana, you can keep your meeting agenda, meeting minutes, and meeting action items in one place. Effortlessly share the agenda with your team and assign agenda items in real time so nothing falls through the cracks.

Streamlining your meetings with one central tool will reduce the amount of work about work your team faces, connect everyone to the purpose of the meeting, and allow for productive meetings everyone enjoys.

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