The effectiveness of a meeting is worked upstream with the drafting of a neat agenda. Otherwise, everyone comes out frustrated, annoyed, even disappointed to have lost so much time for not much in the end.
Also, when we talk about meetings, productivity rhymes with an agenda prepared, thought out, written and shared beforehand! This, in order to avoid the too frequent syndrome of acute sterile meetingitis…
What is an Agenda?
Overall, this tool is an invitation to participate in a meeting with other people carefully named and presented, in a place, at a specific date and time, on a specific theme, all accompanied by a brief program of celebrations.
Too often underestimated, an effective and well-articulated agenda is the key to a successful meeting. It defines a framework for the discussions, prepares everyone for what is going to be said and outlines the objectives expected at the end of the meeting. Furthermore, the participants become aware of the value of their presence, thus giving even more meaning to their mission.
Why Build a Meeting Schedule?
Building and writing an agenda that you will send, once finalized, to all the participants of the planned meeting, allows you to convey the message that the said meeting will indeed be productive. You do not invite all these people for the pleasure of seeing them or for banal discussions as time-consuming as they are sterile.
While it is generally perceived as a simple plan detailing the topics to be discussed, a well-articulated agenda is much more than that. Among the major advantages of such a tool, the following points can be highlighted in particular:
- it allows participants to determine whether or not their presence is a real necessity (technical information that does not justify the presence of its author can, for example, be sent upstream by email to all participants). This avoids a feeling – more or less justified – of a real waste of time for some;
- it offers everyone the opportunity to properly prepare for the meeting, in particular any interventions and/or questions. Everyone comes knowingly and has the assurance of coming out having made progress on the subject/project;
- it frames the course of the meeting, both in terms of form and substance, thus avoiding excesses, off topic, etc.;
- it is a major support for the facilitator in his role as conductor;
- it is an excellent barometer as to whether or not the meeting was successful in terms of efficiency and productivity.
How to Build a Meeting Agenda?
Concretely, like any document, the agenda that you are going to share with your collaborators must be clear, precise, succinct, but also sufficiently attractive to be read! Here are some tips for making it:
- give a title to your agenda: from the outset, the guests will know what it will be about;
- specify the type of meeting: Board of Directors, Ordinary Assembly, Management meeting, monthly service meeting, etc.;
- write down precisely the overall objective of the meeting so that everyone is going in the same and right direction;
- specify the place as well as the exact date and time (start AND end time) of the meeting;
- briefly introduce the participants: who (colleagues, suppliers, lawyers, etc.), why (function and role of each during this meeting).
List chronologically all the items that will be covered during this interview, with, for each, the time allotted to it. Beforehand, you will of course have warned each speaker and will have asked him for the time he considers necessary for the presentation of his subject. It is not a question here of detailing each element, but of defining it very succinctly.
- define the objective of each point discussed;
- set up a few breaks which can also be used in the event of longer debates than initially planned – within reason;
- plan extra time at the end of the meeting for any questions and/or the organization of a future interview;
- make sure that the speakers validate your agenda and that they have no other subjects to discuss during this meeting;
- proofread and/or have your agenda proofread and send it at the appropriate time (at least 1 week before the meeting – be careful, some very formal meetings require a legal deadline as well as a specific convening procedure);
- stick to your schedule on D-Day.
In the event of a last-minute meeting – it sometimes happens, once all the participants are gathered, go around the table so that everyone quickly presents the subject they have to discuss and determine the end time of your interview in order to frame the things from the start. Take notes and send a report to all the participants so that everyone can keep track of what was said during this meeting.