Meeting Agendas: Templates for Purpose and Productivity

  • from ITtoolkit.com

Image of stick figures holding hands encircling a light bulb depicting following steps of a meeting agenda.

Question: What’s the difference between a meeting that just takes up time and a meeting that makes good use of time? Answer: An actionable agenda that is simultaneously relevant, realistic, organized and tangible.  Actionable agendas don't just "happen" - you have to make them happen - using strategic thinking, proactive planning and consistent standards.  Read on to learn how it's done.

Getting Started: A Template for Productivity

Labels aside, what makes a meeting “productive”? To be called productive, a meeting must be necessary, it must serve a purpose, it must deliver a result, and it must be an effective use of everyone's time.

On the flip side, what makes a meeting less than productive?  Non productive meetings are generally those that either fail to produce a meaningful result, or take more time than should be necessary considering the results produced.  Further, non-productive meetings are often characterized by conflict, confusion, lack of preparation, and a lack of participant engagement. 

In other words, non productive meetings are something to avoid.  As can be expected, the best way to ensure “actionable agendas” and productive meetings is to employ a standardized process for meeting planning and agenda development – one that breaks the effort down into “building blocks” that can be readily adapted and applied.  In short, this process boils down to the following steps:

Set appropriate goals for meeting planning and related results.

Identify meeting requirements by defining meeting scope and purpose.

Translate identified requirements into actionable agenda items.

Organize agenda items into an executable, time-bound meeting structure.


Note: You may also find the following "meeting related" articles of interest:


What Makes An Agenda Actionable?

Before that question can be answered, you must step back and ask “what is a meeting agenda”? At the broadest level, meeting agendas are roadmaps for how meetings will be conducted.   Agendas establish the topics to be covered and issues to be addressed, organized into a logical sequence, suited for discussion and/or presentation, and carried out in a set period of time.

So what makes an agenda actionable?  To be considered truly actionable (capable of achieving pre-planned objectives with minimal overhead burdens), meeting agendas must be purpose driven, reality based and results oriented, as defined by the following four (4) characteristics:

#1 Relevant: The agenda must be sufficiently relevant to and aligned with the established meeting purpose   For example, if the purpose of the meeting is to make one or more decisions, the agenda must be crafted to ensure that all required information is conveyed and that appropriate discussion can take place.

#2 Realistic: The agenda must be achievable, considering the meeting purpose, time available, participants and overall project status.  For example, it is neither productive or actionable to plan a 3 hour agenda when only 1 hour is available.

#3 Organized: The agenda must be properly organized to meet designated objectives, present required information, and conduct related discussions in a logical, orderly fashion - one that makes sense and provides clarity. Agendas must also be properly structured considering the time available for the meeting and the time required to realize desired meeting goals.

#4 Tangible: The meeting agenda must be produced in a tangible, useable format, for distribution to all participants in advance of the scheduled meeting date.


Work Smarter

Even under the best of circumstances, management is a challenge. When you learn to fast track, you’ll learn to work smarter, not harder. And that’s the value of every lesson, resource and template available at Fast Track Manage Learning. We teach you how to fast track your way to successful projects, committees and more. Learn More


Creating the Actionable Agenda

As meeting agendas are planned, (4) simple questions must be addressed:

Does this agenda suit the meeting purpose?

Does the agenda make sense and is it do-able?

Is the agenda properly organized (considering purpose and constraints)?

Is the agenda properly documented, detailed and ready for distribution?

If these questions can be answered in the affirmative, you have the makings of an actionable agenda, ready for a productive meeting.

Source: Unless noted otherwise, all content is created by and for ITtoolkit.com


About Us

Right Track Logo

ITtoolkit.com staff writers have experience working for some of the largest corporations, in various positions including marketing, systems engineering, help desk support, web and application development, and IT management.

ITtoolkit.com is part of Right Track Associates, proprietors and publishers of multiple web sites including ITtoolkit.com, Fast Track Manage, HOA Board List and more. We started ITtoolkit.com in 2001 and have continued to grow our web site portfolio, Toolkit products, and related data services. To learn more, visit us at Right Track Associates.

Stay Informed

Useful information without inbox overload.

we do not sell our list

subscribe now
I.T. Service Planning The Fast Track Project Toolkit Start For Free

The IT Service Strategy Toolkit teaches you how to fast track IT service planning using the time-saving “service strategy process”. The goals are simple... to manage IT departments, services and projects in a common-sense manner, to align business and technology, and realize maximum value, acceptance, and utilization - all at the lowest overhead costs. It’s all about adding value, in less time and with greater success. Get lifetime access to a growing IT service curriculum of lessons, videos, reference materials, templates and more. Start for free.

Committee Management The Project Committee Toolkit Start For Free

The Project Committee Toolkit teaches you how to manage successful committees using the "committee concept" process. Committees are one of the most effective ways to organize, deliberate and make decisions. But too often, committee success is hampered by conflict and bureaucracy. When you follow the committee concept process, you’ll learn to avoid these pitfalls and ensure that your committees are properly formed, managed and staffed. Get lifetime access to a growing committee management curriculum of lessons, videos, reference materials, templates and more. Start for free.

Project Management The Fast Track Project Toolkit Start For Free

The Fast Track Project Toolkit teaches you how to deliver on-time, on-plan projects using "strategic project fast tracking". The fast track approach is a time-saving methodology, designed specifically for "real world" project circumstances - when you are being asked to do more than time and resources may allow. Fast tracking is the way to work around these obstacles and deliver prioritized results. Get lifetime access to a growing project planning curriculum of lessons, videos, reference materials, templates and more. Start for free.