Regardless of source, style, or bias, experts/ authorities on effective meetings use at least a one-page agenda.
You cost your organization at east USD$150 per hour (all in). With eight of you in a one-hour meeting, in total you ‘burn’ around $20 per minute. Stop treating one-hour meetings too lightly. We statistically waste more time and money in briefer meetings, than full-day workshops. Here is the framework for the best one-page agenda template to modify for your fifty-minute meetings. Contain your meetings to fifty minutes by starting five after and ending five before the hour.
Some organizations encourage meeting participants to NOT attend if there is no agenda. Hence, meeting time represents a high probability of wasted time. Consequently, he or she who controls the agenda, controls the meeting.
Based on a survey of meeting experts, most embrace and encourage the following suggestions:
- All agendas, even a one-page agenda, should include a beginning, middle, and an end. Do not skip the beginning or the end. See other MG RUSH articles or your Reference Manuals for how to manage robust introductions and wraps.
- Circulate your agenda before the meeting before the meeting, earlier is better.
- Drafting a simple, one-page agenda around the deliverable makes it easier to create the agenda steps required. For example, a “Wedding Plan” might include decisions about food, music, and ceremony. A project plan might include situation analysis, alignment, and assignments.
- Participant input about the one-page agenda should be captured in advance to allow for modifications or additions. Since we expect the participants to own the meeting output, they should provide some voice into HOW the output is derived.
- Provide a written agenda that everyone can refer to and share.
- Simple agenda steps ought reflect WHAT is the object (ie, noun) of the step. Do not detail HOW (ie, verb) you are going to facilitate the activity. Save the detail, method, and tools for your private, annotated agenda. Note below that each agenda should focus on a discrete outcome (ie, a condition) or output (ie, something that can be documented).
- Time box strategic discussions, unless you are hosting a strategic planning sessions. Many tactical and operational meetings get bogged down with strategic issues that should be deferred to a separate time and place. In other words, most meetings waste time discussing stuff not related to the deliverable of the meeting or the agenda; ie, scope creep within a meeting.
The one-page agenda template above has been ‘neutered’ so you need to add your own content. Once you complete your template however, you can regenerate future one-page agendas in a few minutes. Even if it only serves to get you thinking clearer about the meeting purpose, scope, and deliverables—the preparation will be worthwhile. Take a couple of minutes to prevent wasting another hour. Stay focused on ‘right to left’ thinking, which means keeping the end in mind.
Naturally, you want to start with a well codified statement of the meeting purpose, then articulate your scope, and state the meeting objectives, frequently called ‘deliverables.’ While the first and last two agenda steps (Intro and Wrap) can repeat themselves from meeting to meeting, modify steps three through five with the content, questions, and activity to generate your meeting objectives. Keep in mind the following two secrets for a one-page agenda template:
- Since most meetings generate some type of action or follow-up, make sure that all activities are assigned to someone in the room, and
- ‘If it wasn’t documented, it didn’t happen” so be sure to distribute meeting notes after.
The one-page agenda represents the method by which you are using a group of people to advance a common cause. Respect it. Do it. Share it.
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 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.