Writing agendas may seem straightforward, but the best ones will make your meeting rock, the worst will leave everyone scratching their heads.
I’ve already outlined 15 tips for a great agenda but in this article I focus simply on the agenda item itself.
For me, an agenda item should have the following characteristics:
- A number – this allows everyone to refer to that item on the agenda during the meeting. It also helps the meeting chair keep people focused on the right topic.
- A planned start time - as the agenda writer its your job to allocate times to each agenda item. This simple practice will really help with creating a great agenda. All too often we try to do too much in a single meeting, this is the commonest cause of meeting overrun. By planning the times of your meeting, you will create a well-scoped meeting agenda. During the meeting, planned agenda timings will also help the chair manage, and the participants self regulate, the time used for the discussion.
- The item name – Each agenda item should have a clear item name. ”How to write a good agenda item name” is a subject for another post but consider the following:
- will everyone who is at the meeting understand it?
- are jargon and any acronyms explained elsewhere in the agenda for newcomers to the meeting?
- is it specific enough to limit the scope of the discussion?
- is it clear whether the agenda item is for information or is a decision required? what outcome are you expecting from this agenda item?
- is it short and simple enough to fit onto one line (or at most two)?
- Section name – most agenda items just have one topic but if you need to split an agenda item into sections, then each section should have a name (and a number /letter) so that it can be referred to in the meeting.
- Responsible Party – if you are expecting someone other than the chair to be responsible for leading the discussion or presenting new material for that agenda item, then you should make that clear in the agenda.
- End time – finally, the start time of the next agenda item is also the end time of the previous one.