A week without at least one pointless meeting is like getting accepted into Hogwarts. It’d be a dream come true, but sadly, it’ll probably never happen (don’t ever stop waiting for that owl to drop you your letter, folks!)

Pointless meetings infest the workplace. In fact, Atlassian estimates that you’ll waste 31 hours in unproductive meetings each month. And these lost hours will cost U.S. businesses more than $37 billion this year.

Needless to say, unnecessary or unorganized meetings are maddening. They waste the time you need to get your work done -- work that you might have to finish during your own time.

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Fortunately, there’s a solution for unproductive meetings -- agendas. Agendas force attendees to prepare for the meeting beforehand, set clear expectations, keep people focused during the meeting, and budget the allotted time effectively.

To help you create a meeting agenda that’ll help you run a productive and efficient meeting, we’ve designed a sample meeting agenda that’s based off the meeting agenda that Roger Schwarz, an organizational psychologist, a leadership team consultant, and CEO of Roger Schwarz & Associates, uses to run his team meetings.

Meeting Agenda Sample

Topic Preparation Structure

1. What are the current issues with our blog’s email subscription strategy?

Time: 15 Minutes

Purpose: Analysis

Leader: Cliff

Read the attached memo that includes images of recent emails we’ve sent out and our email subscription and engagement data.

1. Review data and highlight the key issues and insights extracted from it

Time: 5 Minutes

2. Go over why you think email engagement has suffered

Time: 5 Minutes

3. Ask team why they think email engagement has suffered

Time: 5 Minutes

2. How should we enhance our blog’s email subscription strategy?

Time: 15 Minutes

Purpose: Brainstorm

Leader: Tova

Come up with three ideas to boost the blog's email engagement.

1. Propose possible solutions for boosting email engagement

Time: 5 Minutes

2. Ask team what they think of your proposed solutions

Time: 5 Minutes

3. Ask each team member to propose one of their own solutions

Time: 5 Minutes

3. What are the next steps that we should take?

Time: 15 Minutes

Purpose: Decision

Leader: Karla

Think about how you could practically implement each of your ideas into our blog’s email subscription strategy.

1. Decide on a proposed solution or multiple solutions

Time: 5 Minutes

2. Explain why we’re going to pursue that specific path

Time: 5 Minutes

3. Divvy up responsibilities to each team member

Time: 5 Minutes

As you can see, we segmented our agenda into three sections -- topic, preparation, and structure. Here’s an analysis of why modeling your meeting agendas like the one above will help you run productive and efficient meetings.

Topic

When you design your meeting agenda, segmenting it by topic will set clear expectations and keep you on track during the meeting. Before you decide on the topics, though, consider asking your attendees what they’d like to discuss and why.

If someone suggests a topic that isn’t relevant to all the people attending the meeting, don’t include it on the agenda -- discussing an issue that’s only of interest to a small part of the group will disengage the rest of the attendees and make them feel like they’re wasting their time. But, before the meeting occurs, remember to tell the person who suggested that topic the exact reason why you aren’t including it on the agenda.

Framing your topics as questions will also lead to productive and efficient meetings. Doing this prepares people for the meeting’s particular talking points and forces them to stay focused on them. For instance, which topic do you think you could better prepare and provide a solution for -- “Email Subscription Strategy” or “Which types of posts should we send through our email subscription?”

Additionally, setting an allotted time frame for each topic will help each attendee cover all their speaking points, answer questions, come up with solutions, and approve next steps without wasting too much time.

Finally, stating the topic’s intent will clarify what needs to get accomplished during the allotted time frame. This keeps attendees laser-focused on achieving a goal and minimizes the amount of time wasted trying to figure out the point of discussing a specific topic.

Preparation

If you send your agenda to attendees before the meeting and identify how they can best prepare for it, you’ll get everyone up to speed and ready to discuss their thoughts when the meeting starts. You’ll also have deeper, more insightful conversations because no one will need to waste time sorting through their initial questions about a subject they’ve already prepared for.

Structure

Structure adds a concrete set of steps to each of your agenda’s topics, streamlining your meeting. By assigning particular talking points and allocating specific time frame to each topic, your attendees will know exactly what to expect and discuss during each segment of your meeting.

Meetings Shouldn't Be a Waste of Time

Unproductive or unorganized meetings are as beneficial to you as procrastinating on the web -- they’re timesucks. Fortunately, the sample agenda above can help you design and structure a productive and efficient meeting that will make people feel excited, focused, and ready to get to work.

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Originally published Dec 13, 2018 7:00:00 AM, updated December 13 2018