How many hours have you lost in meetings that felt aimless and unproductive? You know the ones: they drag on and on, flitting between random topics without much focus. At best, these meetings take you away from doing more productive work. At worst, they completely tank your mood for the rest of the day.
One of the best ways to make the most out of your meetings is to have a clear agenda. In this guide, we explore how to write an effective meeting agenda and we share 17 examples to help empower your next meeting.
What is a meeting agenda?
At its very essence, a meeting agenda is a list of subjects or topics that are to be discussed during a meeting. They provide a roadmap or outline of what to expect from a meeting, and they help meetings stay organized and on track.
Benefits of an effective meeting agenda
A clear blueprint for the meeting
Instead of drawn-out meetings meandering haphazardly in any direction, a good meeting agenda provides a specific plan to be adhered to. Having a clear meeting objective and pre-defined milestones means the meeting immediately has momentum and a destination in mind.
An opportunity to prepare in advance
Sending out a meeting agenda prior to the meeting gives attendees the opportunity to be in the right mindset ahead of the meeting. Not only does this give people the chance to read through relevant materials or consider what questions to ask, but it also saves time at the beginning of the meeting setting the context and getting people up to speed.
It boosts participation and inclusion
Related to the previous point, people are more likely to participate if they’ve had the chance to see the topics beforehand and think of questions, concerns, or contributions in advance. Not only that, it gives a chance for topics to be added that might otherwise be overlooked.
How to write a meeting agenda
1. Decide why you’re meeting in the first place
Firstly, and most importantly, you need to identify the goal of the meeting. Why are you calling the meeting in the first place? What is the intended outcome? Is a meeting the best way to achieve that? Be clear and realistic about the goal of a meeting and make it clear to all participants too.
2. Gather input from the team
Once the goal is decided, it's time to get insights from the team about what they want to learn from the meeting. For example, if the goal of the meeting is to decide the plan for a new product release, the questions that the marketing team have will be very different from the questions the engineers might have. To make sure all needs are covered, send out the meeting agenda in advance and invite people to add their questions/discussion points to it.
3. Set time estimates and assign leaders for each topic
Giving each talking point a time limit prevents the meeting from getting too stuck on any one topic. By estimating how much time each topic needs, it also helps you to be more realistic in planning the meeting. Are you really likely to be able to cover all the topics that are proposed? Assigning a leader for each topic helps share the responsibility of hosting a meeting and gives accountability to others for the success of it. Not only that, by choosing these leaders in advance you avoid putting people on the spot during the meeting. These attendees will have had the chance to prepare a quick rundown of the topic in advance.
4. Use the meeting agenda to guide the conversation
During the meeting, you can use the agenda as your roadmap. If it's an online meeting, you might find it useful to bring it up onscreen for all attendees to see. It's useful to appoint somebody as the scribe for the meeting who makes a note of the key points discussed throughout the meeting (see our guide on writing meeting minutes). If using Craft, these meeting notes can be written directly into the meeting agenda document so everyone has a record of them afterward.
What should be included in a meeting agenda
The exact meeting agenda will differ based on the type of the meeting and it’s objective. It’s important to bear in mind that the formality of the meeting will also impact which of the following elements are included in a meeting agenda:
- Date and time of the meeting
- A list of attendees
- Meeting objective/goal clearly stated
- A list of discussion points to be discussed (often with a time estimate for how long it will take)
- A time for questions at the end
More formal agendas might also include:
- A time to review and approve previous meeting minutes
17 meeting agenda examples
Skip Level Meetings are a space for senior leadership to connect directly with employees. They let managers of managers have a meeting with employees without their manager present, and can lead to candid feedback without managerial layers and enhance feelings of transparency and understanding.
Board Meetings engage board members and key executives in a structured dialogue about the company's direction and performance. These sessions ensure alignment with strategic and financial goals, fostering a proactive approach to governance and oversight.
Kick Off Meetings serve as the launching pad for new projects or initiatives. By setting clear roles, expectations, and milestones from the outset, they ensure all stakeholders embark on the journey with a unified vision and purpose.
Town Hall Meetings provide a platform for company-wide communication. Leaders share organizational updates and future goals, while employees get a voice, promoting a culture of transparency, unity, and mutual respect.
Scrum Meetings, or Daily Stand-ups, are essential touchpoints within agile teams. They streamline the workflow by promptly addressing any blockers, ensuring consistent progress and fostering a culture of collaboration.
All Hands Meetings are holistic company assemblies. They serve to update every employee on company milestones, fostering a shared sense of mission, achievements, and direction.
Team Meetings are routine gatherings for specific teams or departments. They promote cohesion by discussing ongoing tasks, challenges, and solutions, ensuring synchronized efforts and collective problem-solving.
Emergency Meetings are rapid-response sessions convened in the face of crises. They mobilize teams for timely decision-making and action, ensuring swift mitigation of any emerging challenges.
Check-In Meetings are brief touchpoints between managers and their teams. They ensure continuous alignment on tasks, provide an avenue for feedback, and maintain momentum toward shared goals.
Sprint Review Meetings offer agile teams an opportunity to showcase their accomplishments from a sprint. They align product development with stakeholder needs and gather feedback for further refinement.
11. Sprint retrospective meeting agendas
Sprint Retrospectives are reflective sessions post-sprint. They drive continuous improvement by analyzing what went well and what could be better, fostering a mindset of iterative growth. Some examples of retrospectives are:
Lunch Meetings combine business with pleasure. Conducted over a meal, they offer a relaxed environment for discussions or bonding, enhancing team relationships and facilitating open dialogue.
Post Mortem Meetings are analytical reviews after the conclusion of a project or event. They capture insights and lessons, ensuring teams build on their successes and learn from their challenges.
Exit Interviews are structured conversations with departing employees. They provide invaluable feedback on organizational areas of improvement, aiding future retention strategies and growth.
Staff Meetings are regular sessions for departmental alignment. They synchronize efforts, keep members updated on broader developments, and foster a sense of departmental camaraderie.
1 on 1 meetings are dedicated manager-employee interactions. They prioritize individual growth, aspirations, and feedback, strengthening the bond and ensuring alignment with personal and organizational goals.
Backlog refinement meetings allow agile teams to refine and prioritize their task lists. They ensure a well-structured, actionable backlog, setting the stage for efficient and meaningful sprints.