How to Set a Productive Meeting Agenda—and Stick to It

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Meetings often feel like a necessary evil, don’t they? And we’ve all been in meetings with little to no agenda and seen how they can quickly spiral into chaos.

Productive Meeting Agenda that reads Time to Go

I’ll be frank here—no one wants to be in that room! We’re all busy people, so being cognizant of your time, as well as the time of the other participants, is key to having a productive meeting.

Successful meetings follow an agenda. Without one, the inclination is to just wing it, which almost always results in people talking about topics that, while perhaps important, are not immediately relevant to what the business needs to focus on at that time.

Successful team meetings include the following six core components:

1. Welcome

This serves as the kick-off for your meeting. It doesn’t have to be spectacular, but doing something like bringing in breakfast or playing music while your team arrives is a great way to set a good tone. It’s also vital that you always start your meetings on time! The more you do this, the more your team is going to show up on time. If you have a history of not being on time in the past, your team is going to follow suit and just lollygag in. And if people do arrive late, don’t stop the meeting or reset expectations—just keep moving with business as usual.

2. Good News and Updates

If you understand the hourly rate of a meeting, you don’t want to spend half your time talking about what your team did over the weekend. Even so, it is still important to build rapport because you want your team to enjoy spending time together. Sharing good news and/or updates is a great way to foster that.

This time includes sharing any wins or successful meetings that team members have had, including closed business or client updates, as well as good news on a personal front. Your team should be aware they’re going to have an opportunity to share, so they know what they want to say in advance and aren’t pressed to come up with something lame in the moment. (Nobody cares that you had a housewarming party and someone fell in the pool, Bob…)

Note: If you’re running a sales meeting, this is also a great time to briefly go over numbers. Where you are year-to-date and month-to-date is important, as well as any pipeline updates. Don’t spend too much time on this, but it’s important for the team to know where everyone stands on goals.

3. Follow-up on Outstanding Items

This is where team accountability really comes into play. Following up on outstanding action items from previous meetings in the presence of the whole team ensures that everyone stays on top of their work and holds their fellow team members accountable for doing the same. For this step to be effective, it’s imperative that you’ve been taking notes in other meetings so that everyone knows clearly what their responsibilities are.

4. Teachable Moment

This is a fun one, as well as a great way for your team to sharpen their saw! The teachable moment ensures that your team walks away from every meeting with a new bit of knowledge or a skill to improve their performance.

Plot out a schedule for the year with each meeting featuring a different team member sharing their own teachable moment; this could be anything from tips on how to use a new app to your advantage, to intel on a unique welcome gift they sent to a client. Avoid the temptation of getting too product knowledge-heavy on this. Rather, let your team talk about things they’re passionate about, as it will result in a diverse set of information being brought to the table for the team to digest.

Need some inspiration? At your next team meeting, teach them how to create a powerful LinkedIn profile.

5. Action Items

Always appoint one team member to take notes throughout the meeting and draft a list of action items based on what everyone discusses. At the end of the meeting, review this list aloud and make sure that anyone who has a follow-up item is aware of their responsibility and ready to take charge on that. Be specific about expectations and timelines, making it clear that team members will be responsible for providing updates on each of their assigned action items at the next meeting.

6. Schedule the Next Meeting

As always, wrap up on time. If you didn’t finish the to-do items that you planned to cover during the meeting, roll them over to the next meeting or set another meeting to cover it. But do NOT let your meeting run a half hour or an hour over. Make sure to schedule your next meeting before leaving the room; if you leave it up to chance, it likely won’t happen!

Power Tip:

Respect your team by starting and ending on time, sticking to your agenda, and making sure that everyone is given an opportunity to participate.

So, do you actually set a productive meeting agenda with these core components? Or do you fall into the process of winging it or canceling at the last minute because you’re not prepared? Take some time now to think about your processes and evaluate how you can set yourself up for success by ensuring that you always have an agenda set for every meeting you lead.

Until next time—go sell some stuff!

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