Agendas – Don’t Meet Without Them

Have you ever sat through a meeting and at the end of it wondered what it was even about?  Have you ever been trapped in a conference room really, really hoping you could be doing actual work?  Have you ever been in a meeting that seems to wonder everywhere and go nowhere?  Sure, the person holding the meeting has an idea of what they want to get done, but it would be really nice if they shared it with you before the meeting.

No one is watching you right now.  You can admit it.  You have been there.

The answer: Agendas.  They are not just for people trying to take over the world.  If you want to be the type of person who looks like they get things done, or, better yet, the type of person who actually gets things done, make an agenda.

It doesn’t have to be complicated.  You only need the three things:

  1. A list of topics you will discuss during the meeting
  2. Your goal or goals for the meeting.
  3. Action Items – Who is doing what, when.

That’s it.  The first need to be written down and distributed to everyone before the meeting, so that everyone has the same expectations of what topics will be covered and what the point of the meeting is.

There is one more thing that will really make your meeting stand out is action items. When the meeting ends, decisions that made and there is work to do.  This will be included in your action items.

The action items should be:

  • Specific – there should be a concrete action to be accomplished that can be measured easily
  • Accountable – one person is responsible for making sure the task is accomplished.  They might not be doing the work, but they are responsible for the completion.
  • Given A Timeframe – assign a due date or time when a task should be completed.

At the beginning of your second meeting in a project, go through the open action items from the first meeting.  Keep checking them at meetings until they are completed.  If this means you bring them up every meeting, so be it.  If they are long-term tasks, it is worth mentioning them, but do not spend time discussing them.

One last thing:

Make sure the agenda is distributed at least a day before the meeting.  This makes sure your attendees have the opportunity to put their thoughts together on the action items,   discussion points, and goals.

By spending as little as 5 minutes on the day before a meeting,  you have a sanity check to make sure that you’ll cover the important topics and accomplish what you’re hoping in the meeting.  That is very little investment for a very significantly improved outcome.  But that little bit of time in.  You will not regret it and people will actually like coming to your meetings!



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