Many of us have sat through meetings that have felt disorganized, unproductive and felt like a waste of time. When this happens regularly, it’s difficult not to dread heading into meetings. A business meeting agenda is necessary for any productive meeting to take place. Meeting agenda templates enable you and your team to feel more prepared for your business meetings and allow you to be more efficient during your meetings so that you can achieve your organizational goals with greater ease. 

For that reason, this article has put together everything you need to know about a business meeting agenda, what to include in your business meeting agenda and some business meeting agenda templates. This information and insight is going to ensure that you’re prepared each and every time you step into your meeting room, whether it be for remote meetings or the ones taking place in the office. 

Why do you need a business meeting agenda? 

A meeting without an agenda simply shouldn’t take place. If you don’t know what you want to discuss, the amount of time you want to discuss each topic, what the goal is and what the action items should be, you’re truly wasting yours and your teams’ time. Effective business meeting agendas establish expectations on what needs to be done before the meeting, during the meeting and which actions need to be taken afterwards. It allows for your whole team to have a common understanding on which topics are the most important and what you are trying to establish, whether it be addressing challenges or planning for the future. 

Pro tip

Show up prepared to your meetings by organizing your meeting agenda to include talking points, action items, and request feedback all in a collaborative tool like Fellow.

What is a business meeting agenda? 

A business meeting agenda organizes topics of discussion or items of business that need to be addressed during the meeting. A typical business meeting agenda provides basic details such as the date, time, location and meeting participants. This is followed by the discussion points which outline the business that needs to be conducted. A business meeting agenda can also outline the order in which topics will be addressed and any type of schedule that you might agree on together. There’s no set standard for meeting agendas, so it’s really up to you and your team to try out different formats until you find templates that feel effective. The meeting agenda that you use is going to depend on the purpose of the meeting and the individuals in attendance. 

6 things to include in a business meeting agenda

1 Meeting details 

It may seem a little obvious, but so many people fail to include the basic business meeting details. Be sure to include the meeting details, such as the attendees, the date, time, conference links for remote participants and any supplementary documentation. All of this information should be included in the business meeting invite so that attendees can feel prepared prior to the discussion. If any details change before the meeting takes place, be sure to make note of these changes and to communicate them with the rest of your team. If editing the calendar invite doesn’t send an automatic notification to attendees, be sure to shoot an email with a subject line that will catch people’s attention. 

2 Discussion topics 

Next, you want to make sure that you’ve properly outlined your discussion topics. Once you have a few main points that you know you want to go over, these discussion topics will become your agenda items. It’s important that you think about defining a way to address each agenda topic in the most productive way. 

Think about which steps the team will need to take to move through and complete the discussion or come to a decision in that particular area of the meeting. This is going to increase the effectiveness of your meeting because you’ll move through each item more prepared and in a more timely manner. We’ve all been in a meeting where one person is trying to explain the problem, one person is trying to solve it, and other people don’t feel it’s an important topic to discuss at all. Try to eliminate this as much as possible and send your agenda in advance so that your team can collaborate on the discussion topics they feel are most important to address. 

3 Identify your speakers 

In a recent article by the Harvard Business Review, they explain why it’s so important to recognize who should lead each topic in your  business meeting:

 “Identify who is responsible for leading each topic. Someone other than the formal meeting leader is often responsible for leading the discussion of a particular agenda item. This person may be providing context for the topic, explaining data, or may have organizational responsibility for that area. Identifying this person next to the agenda item ensures that anyone who is responsible for leading part of the agenda knows it — and prepares for it — before the meeting.” 

You can also get some input from your team as to who they think might be the best to speak on particular issues, especially as they are working with certain individuals more directly. 

4 Minutes or notes section 

Make sure to include a meeting minutes or notes section in your business meeting agenda. This sets the precedent that participants should be taking notes during the meeting. Your notes section can be taken under each discussion topic, which will promote more organized thoughts for when your team refers to their notes afterwards. Otherwise, you can leave a section for the meeting notes at the end of the business meeting agenda. These notes are important because they are going to help your team recall important information, key takeaways, decisions that have been made and any action items that have been assigned. Even if you have a designated note-taker for your meeting, it’s important to include the notes section to promote each team member making their own recap of the meeting in real-time. 

5 Action items section 

Leave a section in your business meeting agenda for action items. It’s important that this section remains separate from the actual meeting agenda and your notes section because it creates a single space where each attendee can refer to in order to see which action items have been assigned to them and how long they have to get their tasks done. During each subsequent meeting, make sure that someone is assigned to updating your action items list in real-time so that everyone has common knowledge on what has been done and which items are still open. Ensure that when you write your action items you include what the item is, the name of the person responsible and a specific due date. If you don’t know a specific due date, jot down the date of your next meeting so that whoever is assigned has a target in sight. 

6 Parking lot section 

Sometimes important topics that aren’t related to the goal of the meeting and aren’t put down as discussion items arise during the meeting. While these topics are worth a discussion, you want to focus and stay on track to fulfil the purpose of your meeting. For that reason, you can move it to the notes section and revisit this topic at a later date. Make sure that you assure your team members that they have brought up an important point and that it will be discussed another time, instead of dismissing their point and getting right back on topic. This is going to encourage team members to continue to speak up and share their valuable ideas. 

Business meeting agenda templates 

Team Business Meeting

Because you meet with your team on a regular basis, and probably more than anyone else, it’s important to be both organized and prepared for these discussions. Small improvements to your team meetings will truly have a big impact on your productivity and effectiveness. A great way to work towards improving your team business meeting agenda template. Take a look at this team meeting agenda, which will prepare you to have your recurring group discussion. 

Weekly Leadership Meeting

The leadership team meets weekly (or should!), where the most prominent issues and challenges are identified and discussed. While leadership meetings are less formal than a board meeting, they are still extremely important for identifying areas of the business that are impacting employees at all levels. An executive meeting needs to have a meeting agenda so that thoughts can be appropriately organized. Leadership teams should know that without a business meeting agenda, the discussion will likely be unproductive, as members share their subjective views of the business. 

Formal Meeting Minutes

Formal meetings include board meetings, committee meetings, meetings with external stakeholders, or major clients. A formal meeting minutes template needs to be used so that you don’t omit to discuss important topics that have been identified and so that you can appropriately document the outcomes. A formal meeting structure usually follows a particular framework, such as Robert’s Rules or Order, so be sure that all attendees are familiar with the meeting structure prior to the formal meeting. This formal meeting minutes template will allow you to follow the appropriate procedures and feel properly prepared.  

Board Business Meeting 

A board meeting is a formal discussion with an executive director, the board of directors and the board chair of an organization. Successful board meetings come down to the preparation for them, prior to the meeting. In order to make strategic decisions and plan for the progression and success of the company, you need to ensure that you remain organized and on track. Over preparation doesn’t exist. Try this board business meeting agenda template to ensure you and your board hit your meeting goals.  

Parting advice 

Different types of meetings require different kinds of thought and preparation, but one thing they all have in common is that they all require a meeting agenda in order to be successful. Effective meeting agendas ensure that you are prepared in advance, remain on track and execute the meeting goals effectively. Try out these business meeting agenda templates with your team and notice what kind of a difference it can make to show up feeling prepared and organized each time. Your results will speak for themselves and you will truly never hold a meeting without an agenda again, because there’s just no point! As always, it’s a pleasure seeing you on the Fellow blog. If you found this article helpful, be sure to share it with your boss, a friend or a colleague. Until next time!