Is there anything more painful than a long meeting that seemingly has no purpose?

How about managing hours upon hours of meetings each week only to be left with few to no next steps? Of all the woes associated with modern meetings, the time and energy they often waste are perhaps the most egregious. But there is one clear, simple solution: a meeting agenda

The most effective meeting agendas give your team a structure to follow and ensure that you maximize the time you spend together. Let’s examine what they look like and how to create your own.

What is a Meeting Agenda?

A meeting agenda is a roadmap your team uses to conduct efficient, meaningful meetings. Its purpose is to organize thoughts, topics, and objectives ahead of time so that everyone knows what to expect. During the meeting, the agenda keeps everyone on track. 

The Importance of a Meeting Agenda

Effective meeting agendas help teams manage their time wisely, maximize productivity, and avoid wasting precious resources. Even a simple agenda can revolutionize how your team gets things done. They’re especially useful for remote workers or hybrid teams that need to juggle tech and distance-related obstacles that might impact meeting quality.

For one thing, each person involved in the meeting will have the same look at what will be covered or accomplished. That gives everyone a clear idea of how to prepare. Ideally, your meeting agenda will also designate a realistic amount of time for each item or task.

Say, for example, that you need to discuss an important change to one of your projects. Listing an item on your agenda with this topic and a reasonable time allotment allows the team to bring their thoughts, materials, or ideas to the table, making for a far more meaningful discussion.

Because well-prepared agendas maximize meeting efficiency, they also impact overall productivity and outcomes. Better meetings mean more outside progress – and, perhaps most importantly, fewer meetings. Considering that many workers spend an average of 7.5 hours, or a whole work day, on meetings alone each week, something as simple as an agenda is undoubtedly worth the effort.

The Components of an Effective Meeting Agenda

Your meeting agenda can be as bare-bones or complex as you’d like it to be as long as it ticks each of these key boxes:

  • Lists topics or items to be discussed, ideally ordered by priority
  • Allotted time for each agenda item
  • Names discussion leaders or presenters for each topic
  • Notes any pre-meeting preparation required from participants

It also helps to provide other specific details that are relevant to your team. For example, if you’d like to make agendas for regular meetings, it’s a good idea to list the date at the top of each respective update or agenda so that you can clearly track the progression of your notes. Overall, it never hurts to start small and build from there. Your agendas may be basic at first but grow to be more functional for different types of meeting goals. 

4 Steps for Creating a Meeting Agenda

Creating your first meeting agenda is simpler than it may seem. Let’s break it down into a few steps:

  1. Gather Input. Your meeting agenda should reflect everything that your team hopes to discuss during the time you have. Make sure that everyone contributes to the agenda by a certain time on a certain date. Or, if you’re in charge of the agenda, take some time to gather updates or requests from meeting participants. 
  2. Prioritize Agenda Items. With a full list of what to discuss, start prioritizing items based on their importance and relevance. Get the most important things out of the way first to ensure you don’t go overtime and utilize the rest of your meeting time wisely. 
  3. Estimate Timing. Make an informed guess or decision about how much time each discussion item will need. If you can’t wrap up in this timeframe, consider creating a new agenda item in the future to revisit the topic or make a note of the next steps after the meeting.
  4. Distribute to Teams. Give the finished agenda to everyone on your team in advance to give them plenty of time to prepare. 

And just like that, you’re ready to go! Need a meeting agenda template to get started? Try this blank template (Microsoft Word) from MIT, which serves as a good starting point for most meetings. 

Best Practices for Implementing Meeting Agendas

As you become more familiar with how to create meeting agendas that work for your team, you’ll likely find yourself expanding and tweaking your system. Keep these important tips in mind as you do to ensure your agendas make a positive difference:

  • Keep your agenda focused and concise. Prioritize quality over quantity in terms of what you decide to discuss. Keeping things simple makes it easy for everyone to engage and understand what’s happening.
  • Encourage everyone to participate in and adhere to the agenda. Even if you’re the one tasked with maintaining agendas, do your best to encourage all team members to chip in. Ask them to review agendas ahead of time and leave notes or come prepared with their thoughts. 
  • Review the agenda at the start of your meetings. This helps you set the tone, add any last-minute items, and remind yourself what you want to achieve.
  • Make the agenda accessible. Ensure it’s easy for all team members to find your agendas even long after the meeting is over so they can quickly reference past discussion notes, decisions, action items, etc. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Preparing an Agenda

Just as you can create a great meeting agenda, you can also create one that doesn’t meet the mark. Your agendas should be making life easier, not harder. One major risk of using an agenda is being overly ambitious; writing things out can get the juices pumping, but it also might lead you to aim a little too high. Here are a few things to avoid as you prepare your agendas:

  • Overloading the meeting agenda with too many topics
  • Failing to distribute time realistically – plan based on how long you expect something to take, not how long you wish it took
  • Not giving the agenda to team members ahead of time
  • Trying to tackle too many purposes or goals at once

How Industrious Can Help with Meeting Needs

With some time and practice, you’ll be creating dynamic and useful meeting agendas for your team without a second thought. It’s time to enjoy better, fewer, and more meaningful meetings that truly add value to your days. Make agenda creation a regular part of your routine; your team will thank you for it!

Of course, an agenda is just one piece of the puzzle. Where and how you meet also shape what you’ll achieve. Industrious offers on-demand meeting rooms that help your team connect for focused, impactful sessions. Bring together team members from any location in a space optimized for productivity and genuine enjoyment. Remote workers, small businesses, hybrid teams, and independents alike can all find community at Industrious. Visit or contact us to learn more.