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Element #4: Develop an agenda that reflects the meeting purpose

As we discussed a few weeks ago, the first step in conducting an effective meeting is to be really clear about your purpose. In order to honor that purpose, you must be intentional about what is included in your meeting agenda. One of the common challenges to effective meetings is attempting to include too many items into a meeting agenda. When you are clear about your meeting purpose, consider what must be included to accomplish that purpose and eliminate everything else. This takes constant practice! Join me this week as I provide three questions you can ask to develop an agenda that reflects the meeting purpose.

Which 1-3 items are essential?

As you reflect upon your meeting purpose, what are the 1-3 items or topics that are most essential in order to accomplish that purpose? In order to figure out these essential items, make a list of all of the potential options (including speakers or presenters). Then, review that list with other staff or leaders in your coalition, team, workgroup or partnership and garner feedback on which items they think would be most essential for the meeting purpose.  If you continue to struggle with choosing 1-3, consider whether some of the items could be included in another form of communication. Perhaps one or two could be shared via email. Maybe another one or two items would be a good fit for your next meeting. When you prioritize what is included in the meeting, everyone involved in the meeting has clarity on the purpose and intended outcome of the meeting.

Is group discussion an important component of the meeting purpose?

If part of the meeting purpose is to discuss a specific topic(s) and garner feedback from the group, consider how much time is needed for discussion for each topic. When you develop your list of 1-3 items, consider the amount of time needed for discussion for each of those items. Depending upon the topic and time allotted for the meeting, you may only have time to really address one item. One of the biggest threats to effective meetings is the lack of time for discussion. When we create a meeting agenda packed with speakers and content, we do not have time for engaged discussions on any topics. When you consider Element #3 about the meeting format, this can help you consider the amount of discussion to include. For instance, if you are conducting a webinar or training, you are likely providing more content and less discussion. However, if you would like feedback from the group on a particular project or deliverable, you want to include adequate time for group discussion.

How much time do you have for the meeting?

Since you have already considered the first three elements (purpose, who needs to attend, meeting format), this will help you determine how much time you need to allow for the meeting to accomplish your purpose with those who will be participating. For some groups, you may only have 30 minutes of focused attention while for other groups, you may be able to meet for 1 or even 1.5-2 hours (with a break)!  As you develop your agenda, consider extra time in order to accomplish your agenda items. For instance, if you are asking someone to speak for 5 minutes, assume that they will probably take 8-10. Allow more time than you think you need for the discussion so that you will have time for discussion. No one ever complains if you end a meeting early! 🙂

Which of these three items will you practice for your next meeting? 

If you would like to learn more skills and engage with others who are also on a coalition, partnership or team building journey, consider joining my wait list for Coalition Catalyst Spring 2022. You will be the first to receive the dates and information for my Spring class!

Also, check out my latest resource on conducting effective coalition meetings, Effective Meeting Checklist!

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