If you’re the chair of the meeting, then you might find this handy 15 point agenda checklist of everything a good agenda should have. You don’t have to tick every box, but this will help you ensure nothing gets missed out
I think a great agenda should have the following characteristics:
- Name of the meeting
- Date and Time
- Exact location of the meeting
- A list of expected attendees
- Expected meeting duration
- Clearly stated objectives of the meeting
- An agenda item to approve the minutes of the previous meeting
- An agenda item to handle matters arising from the previous meeting’s minutes (actions that haven’t been completed for example)
- An agenda item at the end to handle AOB – Any Other Business
- Each agenda item should be numbered
- Each agenda item should have a time allotted to it
- Where you have a speaker, their name should be next to the agenda item so they know they are running that item of the agenda.
- An agenda should be circulated in advance (ideally the day before)
- As chair (or secretary) you should bring enough printed copies of the agenda to the meeting and print-outs of the last meeting’s minutes for everyone.
- The whole agenda should be simple and clear for all participants to understand, without extensive prior knowledge.
There may be a few items on this list that you’re wondering – do I really need that? Well, let me explain what each item is for and why it’s there.
Firstly, you need items 1 to 4 to get the people you want,in the right place, at the right time, to have the meeting you want them to have. Item 5, an expected duration, helps you persuade those people to turn up. Everyone’s time is valuable, including yours, by setting a duration of the meeting, each person can plan their diary accordingly.
Stating the objectives (6) is something we rarely do but makes lots of difference. Too often why we are meeting, what are objective is, what we are trying to achieve gets lost. Having the objective written clearly on the top of the agenda helps each participant stay focused.
If your meeting is a one off you can ignore items 7 and 8 but if you are meeting on a weekly basis it is simply good practice to check that the last minutes were accurate (7) and then to follow up on any actions that were expected (8).
Keeping a meeting on track is a chair’s main responsibility and the clever addition of an AOB (Any Other Business) section on your meeting agenda (9) means you can always stop a conversation that’s going off on a tangent in its tracks with the line ‘can we cover that under AOB?’. AOB is always at the end of the meeting and allows participants other than the chair to get new ideas and propositions for the meeting attendees to discuss.
Numbering each item (10) helps you refer to it during the meeting and allocating a time for each (11) ensures everyone doesn’t spend too long on the trivial items on the agenda.
Saying who is responsible for a particular item (12) can mean that they prepare for their section (you hope) and that is even more possible if you’ve given people ample notice of the meeting (13) .
Finally make sure you print out copies of the last minutes and the agenda (14) as some people may be rushing and won’t have a copy with them.
Once you’ve written your agenda go through it all again (15) and imagine you don’t know anything about the meeting in advance. If you can figure it all out from your meeting agenda then you’ve done your job right, and you’ve created a great agenda.
Have a great meeting!