We’ve probably all had the experience of seeing a meeting invitation on our work calendars with a vague title and no additional information. We’re left wondering what the meeting is about and what it has to do with us. As a meeting organizer, adding a few bullet points to meeting invitations to set an agenda can make a big difference in terms of meeting effectiveness.
The agenda should include any necessary background information on the situation at hand, a list of topics to be discussed, and objectives or decisions to be made. And, importantly, that agenda should be provided to meeting attendees before the meeting. Here’s why.
Ensure (the Right) People Show Up
We all work in environments where people are busy and have what often seems like a never-ending to-do list. When is the last time you heard an employee claim he or she had “too little to do”? That doesn’t happen very often!
Meetings can, and do, serve an important role in organizations—when they’re necessary and when the right people are involved. Meeting organizers, though, may not know exactly who should be involved in a meeting. Being clear and upfront about the content of the meeting can help invitees determine whether they are the right ones to attend.
When there is a meeting invitation with no agenda, the invitees can’t be entirely sure it’s worth their time to show up. But if there is an agenda, you are making sure your invitees can see whether the meeting is relevant to them. And, if they aren’t the right people to attend, they can forward the meeting to someone else in their group.
People (Have the Opportunity to) Come Prepared
It’s frustrating for attendees to show up to a meeting and not know what the meeting is about and why they are there. It’s also frustrating to hold a meeting when nobody comes prepared.
And, it’s a waste of company resources. Time, as they say, is money. Spending time in meetings reviewing information, or providing context, that could have been provided before the meeting wastes everyone’s time.
In addition, providing an agenda in advance helps employees gather the information they need to participate effectively in the meeting. “Agendas eliminate excuses that participants aren’t ready to discuss a subject because they didn’t know it was going to be brought up,” writes Best Practices for Business. “Participants are put on notice of exactly what they need to prepare, saving time and eliminating embarrassment.”
Stay on Topic
Agendas let everyone know what the meeting is about and helps to keep meetings on track. “Meeting agendas can focus participants in ways that verbal guidance cannot,” says Best Practices for Business. “Participants have a written reminder of what needs to be accomplished during the meeting, allowing them to help drive each discussion toward conclusion.”
Meetings waste a great deal of time if the first half is spent filling everyone in on what the meeting is about and what the objectives are. Save time and boost productivity for everyone by including an agenda from the outset. It’s a very simple best practice that can make a world of difference!