To improve your meeting agenda design and effectively lead your group, follow the steps below. Before we begin, remember the definition of a solidly structured meeting (eg, MG RUSH) agenda:

Meeting AgendaMeeting Agenda Design — Defined

Your meeting agenda design reflects a series of steps that structure a group discussion during a meeting or workshop. MG RUSH’s pre-built or cookbook agendas provide solid versions of known and proven information gathering, sharing, and decision-making methods. Therefore, modifications you apply to basic agendas will enable:

  1. A facilitator (ie, the session leader) to lead the discussion, with . . .
  2. Subject matter experts (who are experts about content but NOT experts about context or meeting technique), who build understanding . . .
  3. That extracts required information (ie, the meeting output or deliverable including for example, decision-making or prioritization), thus
  4. Enabling other stakeholders (ie, project team) to use the information and decisions to support and further advance project objectives and organizational goals.

Methodological steps for your meeting agenda design are:

  1. Identify the purpose, scope, and deliverables of the meeting—what are you building and what level of detail is required?
  2. Codify the deliverables—what is the specific content for the output of the workshop, what is the optimal sequence for gathering it, and who will use it after the meeting is complete?
  3. Identify known information—what is already known about the project, problem, or scope?
  4. Draft your likely steps—compose a series of steps from experience or analytical methods that would be used by other experts to make this decision, solve this problem, or develop the required information and consensual view.
  5. Review steps for logical flow—walk through the steps to confirm they will produce the desired results.

  6. Note likely meeting participants—determine the most likely participants and identify their level of understanding about the business issues and the method you have drafted for them to develop the information during the the agenda steps.
  7. Select agenda steps that the participants cannot complete—modify or eliminate the steps that your participants may not understand, will not value, or are inappropriate for their level of experience.
  8. Identify what information is needed to fill the gaps from step number seven above, and determine how to get this additional information (eg, off-line)—what information or analysis is required to substitute for the missing information identified in step number seven above, that your meeting participants cannot complete?
  9. Detail the final agenda steps to capture required information for the open issues—build the appropriate activities to produce the information without making the participants perform unnecessary activities (eg, do NOT do team building if they already function together properly).
  10. Review—confirm steps number one and two above and then carefully review the detailed activities to confirm that they satisfy the purpose and provide the needed information without over challenging or intimidating your participants.
  11. Perform a walk-through, including documentation format or templates, with other business experts, executive sponsor, and project team members.
  12. Refine—make any changes identified in the walk-through and begin to build out your annotated agenda as suggested by MG RUSH.

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Finally, MG RUSH professional facilitation curriculum focuses on providing methodology. Each student thoroughly practices methodology and tools before class concludes. Some call this immersion. We call it the road to building impactful facilitation skills.

Become Part of the Solution While You Improve Your Facilitation, Leadership, and Methodology Skills

Take a class or forward this to someone who should. MG RUSH Professional Facilitation Training provides an excellent way to earn up to 40 SEUs from the Scrum Alliance, 40 PDUs from PMI, 40 CDUs from IIBA, and 3.2 CEUs. As a member of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF), our Professional Facilitation. Therefore, our training aligns with IAF Certification Principles and fully prepares alumni for their Certified Professional Facilitator designation.

Furthermore, our Professional Facilitation curriculum immerses students in the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. Because nobody is smarter than everybody, attend an MG RUSH Professional Facilitation, Leadership, and Methodology workshop offered around the world, see MG RUSH for a current schedule.

Go to the Facilitation Training Store to access our in-house resources. You will discover numerous annotated agendas, break timers, and templates. Finally, take a few seconds to buy us a cup of coffee and please SHARE.

In conclusion, we dare you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

 Related articles

Facilitation Expert

Terrence Metz, CSM, PSPO, CSPF, is the Managing Director of MG RUSH Facilitation Training and Coaching, the acknowledged leader in structured facilitation training. His FAST Monthly Facilitation blog features over 300 articles on facilitation skills and tools aimed at helping others lead faster, more productive meetings and workshops that yield higher quality decisions. His clients include Agilists, Scrum teams, program and project managers, senior officers, and the business analyst community among numerous private and public companies and global corporations. As an undergraduate of Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and MBA graduate from NWU’s Kellogg School of Management, his professional experience has focused on process improvement and product development. He continually aspires to make it easier for others to succeed.

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4 Comments

  1. I typed a reply but not sure that it got through. I believe that Agenda should consist of objectives not just topics. Thus you need a verb in each “step”. See my web site – management-me.com (Sorry I do not know how to put in a link on this reply). Check out the categories on (a) conference leading and (b)speciific techniques for specific situations – and (c) planning

    I found your material of great interest

    Any criticism of mine gratefully received

    • Dear Bill,

      We agree wholeheartedly that the agenda steps should focus on describing the deliverable from each step. What does “done” look like?

      The verbs (and much more detail) are required on a copy of the facilitator’s annotated agenda. The participants should only concern themselves with the simple agenda, where the verbs add no value. Nobody wants more meetings or more work. Verbs represent or capture the work. Participants want results or the objects as you stated. Objects are nouns.

      If I find the deliverable for a step in the agenda in my desk and bring it to a meeting, and you as a participant are satisfied with the quality of the deliverable, the agenda step is over. The verb is not necessary (eg, “Define” or “Analyze”) because what the participants need is the definition or the analysis (ie, the object or objectives, typically a thing), and how they get it (ie, through the verb) is secondary.

      We’ll take a look at some of your material, presumably found at http://managementme.wordpress.com/, and comment there.

    • Below is a generic example of a simple agenda from a planning session. It is followed by examples of items that could be added depending on the deliverable, culture, project, and participant expectations:
      INTRODUCTION
      MISSION
      VALUES
      VISION
      SUCCESS MEASURES
      CURRENT SITUATION
      PROGRAMS (WHAT)
      ALIGNMENT
      ASSIGNED RESPONSIBILITIES
      GUARDIAN OF CHANGE
      WRAP & DISMISS

      Other narrative components that might be found in either a team charter or a project plan, include:
      ASSUMPTIONS, CONSTRAINTS, and DEPENDENCIES
      BUDGET, TIMELINE, AND RESOURCE ALIGNMENT
      BUSINESS CASE OR PURPOSE
      COMMUNICATIONS PLAN and TOUCH POINTS
      CORRECTIVE ACTIONS
      DETAILED WORK BREAKDOWN STRUCTURE
      FLEXIBILITY MATRIX
      FRAMING DIAGRAM (eg, IS NOT/ IS)
      ISSUE ESCALATION PROCEDURE
      OPEN ISSUES MANAGEMENT
      PHASE GATES REVIEWS, MILESTONES, OR DECISION POINTS
      RISK ASSESSMENT AND GUIDELINES
      STAKEHOLDERS DESCRIPTIONS

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