A good agenda will help keep the meeting from drifting aimlessly. When a thorough agenda is sent out ahead of time participants will be more likely to come prepared, you'll receive more buy-in, and a greater sense of inclusiveness will develop. Be sure your agenda includes the basics:
- Meeting date, time and place
- Purpose of meeting─write at the top of the agenda
- Meeting protocol—may be on agenda and/or posted
- Leader or facilitator, Participants—name, department. Be sure stakeholders are in the meeting if their area or department is involved.
- Write each agenda item as a goal or action. Rather than: Discuss budget, write it as a specific task that needs doing: Define budget categories and develop tentative amounts in each category.
- Identify the nature of each item: 1) Discussion 2) Brainstorm for ideas 3) Decision 4) Information
- Provide background information with the item
- Assign a participant responsible for each item
- Indicate time allocated for each item
And write the purpose of the meeting on a board or chart paper. Then, when someone strays from the purpose, you can point at it! Have post-its on the table and a Parking Lot posted. If someone brings up an off-the-subject item, ask them to post it on the Parking Lot. Be sure to follow up with them after the meeting.
Everyone appreciates a meeting that is led effectively and stays on time. A good agenda will help you accomplish this!