Meeting Agenda

Everything you need to know about an Agenda

This page provides valuable information about an agenda, and will assist you in creating, managing and distributing various types of agendas.

What is an Agenda?

An agenda is a written plan of topics that will be addressed in a meeting, presentation or event. Regardless of the venue in which the agenda will be utilized, it is important that the agenda contain certain information.

staff meeting agenda template

Here are several key elements that should be considered in any agenda:

  • Purpose of the meeting or event
  • Schedule information, location, day and time
  • Meeting or event title
  • Host or organizer information
  • RSVP required or not
  • List of Agenda topics
  • Any special requirements

Types of Agendas

Agendas come in many different formats, and should be specific to the desired purpose of the meeting or event. An agenda for a meeting may be vastly different from an agenda for a tradeshow. Sure they both have topics, dates and times, but the requirement of the audience differ greatly. Regardless of the type of agenda, you can always follow a few simple steps.

1 Purpose for the agenda

Agenda's should be focused to achieve a specific purpose, pertaining to a meeting or event. A simple definition states that any meeting or event is a gathering of two or more people for the purpose of achieving a common goal. These may occur face to face or virtually, based on available technology, however the purpose should always be defined as achieving the desired outcome.

Thus, when developing an agenda, the purpose in which the agenda should achieve is seamlessly tied to the end result of the meeting or event, and the topics that need to be covered in order to achieve that outcome.

2 Brainstorm the agenda

Research has shown that one of the best methods for brainstorming and getting an overview of topics you would like to include in your agenda is to use mind mapping software such as MindView. Mind mapping lets you to get a visual overview of ideas to be used as agenda topics. You can quickly see if all key points have been covered and any outstanding topics that may prove important to achieve the purpose. Alternatively, you can brainstorm agenda ideas on paper or start writing notes directly in MS Word.

Brainstorm the agenda

3 Agenda format

All agendas should follow a specific format when it comes to the information to include and the manner in which attendees receive the formatted agenda. It is also important to fully understand the venue in which the meeting or event will be utilizing such as face to face, webinar, tradeshow, seminar, etc… This will help to determine the must have elements and the format in which to implement

Here are some basic guidelines to follow when selecting the agenda format:

  • At the top of the agenda put information about place, date, start/end time, host, room, participants and the title of the meeting.
  • In the body section have separate columns for topic description, time slot and presenter. The order of the columns can be changed depending on the host preferences.
  • Each topic should have a description and/or goal for the meeting activity. Make it clear where a decision is required, and who will have ownership of it.
  • If necessary, consider making an agenda template for note-taking and the delegation of action items.

Some meeting management systems have features that assist in the above mentioned guidelines.

4 Agenda template

Generally speaking, most meetings are different; however it is important that you have a general guide to follow. This helps to ensure that you cover all important or required topics set for the meeting. Rather than start from scratch, it may be helpful to create or use an existing agenda template. There are lots of agenda templates online, preloaded in MS Word, or available in various agenda books, but for specific meeting types it may be beneficial for you to create your own agenda template.

A pre-made or custom agenda template helps to streamline meeting procedures across your organization and will ensure that the correct actions are taken to get the most ROI from your meetings. Since all meetings begin with a proper agenda, a formalized agenda template should be an essential piece of a meeting professional's tool kit. If you are having difficulty creating your own agenda template, MeetingBooster has user friendly modules to assist you in creating your agenda template, or you can select from a preloaded agenda template as a starting point.

Create an Agenda Template

5 Write the Agenda

Once you have gathered information and created an outline of topics, it is time to start writing the agenda. Whether you use a normal Word processor or meeting management software like MeetingBooster, remember to always allocate the proper time for each topic, include breaks and review that the topics achieve the purpose of the meeting.