How to Make a Meeting Agenda Your Team Will Actually Care About

Regardless of industry, every business relies on meetings to keep its team members informed and productive. The heart of it all is knowing how to design a meeting agenda that actually engages teams. That way, everyone can retain information and stay more committed to their goals.

To do so, it’s critical to create an agenda that draws attention to the key details without losing sight of the bigger picture. And, as you’d likely guess, preparation is key.

While no two meetings or companies are exactly alike, there are a few general guidelines for creating an effective agenda. With the right game plan—and tools like Evernote to help—you can run productive meetings like clockwork.

Share a purposeful agenda

There’s an old joke in the business world: “This meeting could have been an email.” That’s why the most important rule in creating a meeting agenda is ensuring that the meeting itself is truly necessary. And that starts with crafting a purposeful, focused agenda that ensures attendees aren’t left in the dark until they arrive.

When setting a meeting agenda, be clear about what it’s for: the reason for the meeting, the scope/topic, and any actionable goals the meeting aims to achieve. Start by briefly listing this information via bullet points, being as concise and to-the-point as you can. The more your agenda resembles an unorganized laundry list of talking points, the less likely it is to be read, so be clear about what you intend to cover.

Once completed, refine your agenda to remove any unnecessary information and distribute it. That way, the attendees know what to expect and can form opinions in advance. It’s always better to send the agenda at least 24 hours before the meeting—this gives your team time to ponder topics and compile questions, and you get higher-quality input.

Needless to say, it’s mission-critical to keep strong lines of communication open for this to happen. You’ll find it avoids a lot of problems in the long run, and streamlines the meeting altogether.

Power tip: Get off on the right foot with meeting templates in Evernote. They help you organize your ideas and transform them into an actionable game plan. You can attach files, cut & paste charts, and hone your ideas into a purposeful and dynamic agenda—it even lets you take effective meeting notes during the event itself. Finally, Evernote makes it easy to share your agenda with the whole team to ensure they are promptly updated and properly prepared.

Plan a strong start and finish

You may intend your whole meeting to be valuable, but the beginning and the end are where it really counts. The beginning of the meeting is your chance to emphasize the subject and get your team focused on it; the end will leave the strongest impression on attendees, ideally propelling them toward acting on the information they’ve just received.

For the start of the meeting, plan to state the purpose and goals to keep everyone centered on what needs to be accomplished. Focus only on items within the team’s sphere of influence.

Define the work that will be required of the team and be prepared to ask for input. Otherwise, the meeting is simply an extended announcement—boring, drawn-out, and overall unproductive. No, thank you!

Along those lines, keep your agenda as focused (and as short!) as possible. A meeting that runs too far astray will dilute the intent and make it more difficult to convey key points among a sea of superfluous details.

The conclusion of the meeting is equally important. It leaves the strongest impression on participants, making it the best time to leverage your agenda into concrete action. To capture the moment, focus on summarizing the most important points before you adjourn. Include what’s expected from the team going forward and how the information presented in the meeting applies. Action items play a particularly strong role in any meeting conclusion, as they give the attendees agency and help springboard them into using it.

Power tip: Establishing a purposeful agenda makes crafting a strong introduction and conclusion much easier. Evernote’s meeting notes template lets you format your agenda in the way that best suits your thought processes. And all Evernote templates are fully customizable so you can tailor them to fit your specific business needs.

Set challenging goals for your team

Goals should have measurable milestones and clear deadlines. That way, team members have quick access to exactly what’s expected of them, so nothing falls through the cracks.

It’s important to clearly communicate ahead of time what you hope to achieve in your meeting and how each attendee can contribute to those goals. This allows you to define each participant’s responsibilities better and what they need to do to complete them.

Doing so also gives ample time for attendees to prepare and provide feedback before the meeting begins. They will also know what to expect from the meeting itself. Prepare the questions you will be asking of team members during the meeting, and ensure they have advance notice so they can come prepared with the answers.

When it comes to setting goals, two-way communication is vital to ensuring they are challenging yet achievable. If a team member is spread too thin, they might not be able to reach an excessively high goal, and the quality of it and other projects may suffer.

Moreover, the team’s goals should have measurable milestones and clear deadlines, and you should spell out all of these details when writing your meeting agenda. That way, team members have quick access to exactly what’s expected of them, so nothing falls through the cracks.

That not only helps the meeting itself move smoothly but further facilitates communication between team members. Attendants will leave the meeting with a stronger idea of what needs to be done and a greater investment in the outcome.

Power tip: Connect your Google Calendar with Evernote and link your meeting agenda to the calendar invite. One click lets you share it with all meeting attendees ahead of time, and Evernote can even remind you to open it as soon as the meeting starts.

Give everyone a chance to shine

Having a hand in reaching a shared goal instills a sense of responsibility, empowering team members to contribute more and stay excited after the meeting ends.

Giving everyone a chance to shine should also be integrated into your agenda plan. This encourages an equal working environment while boosting individual members’ confidence. It might seem obvious, but every participant in the meeting should have a job to do. If they don’t, they probably don’t need to be invited to the meeting in the first place.

Having a hand in reaching a shared goal instills a sense of responsibility, empowering team members to contribute more and stay excited after the meeting ends. In the same breath, ensuring everyone has actionable tasks isn’t enough. You must also have systems in place to hold members accountable.

Meetings should also include structured time for everyone to present their concerns and offer potential solutions. Afterward, the team should work together to develop a concrete action plan.

Power tip: Use Evernote’s Web Clipper to add notes and clippings to your meeting agenda. That way, any research, supporting info, and screenshots can be integrated, centralized, and shared.

Better agendas lead to better meetings

Knowing how to create a meeting agenda ensures your meetings are engaging, invigorating, and productive—and it all starts with planning.

As you create your agenda, truly think about the meeting’s goals, the steps required to reach them, and the part each team member will play in making them happen.

The right tool can greatly boost your ability to make an effective, targeted meeting agenda. Evernote can help you create a strong and engaging meeting agenda that gets your team excited, and helps your project run smoothly from start to finish.

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