The Guide To Writing The Meeting Agenda In 2023 (With 9 Examples & Free Templates)

A bad meeting is easy to recognize: unorganized, taking more time that it should, with no one prepared to speak, and confused attendees who don’t understand why they are there. Although planned with the best intentions, a meeting can’t go smoothly and efficiently without a focal point. And the focal point of any meeting is its agenda. So check out the following guide and learn how to write a meeting agenda. And the end of the article, you will find straightforward examples to get you started.

What is a Meeting Agenda?

A meeting agenda is a document that summarizes all aspects relevant to a meeting in an organized format, usually a list of items. It includes the main topic of the meeting and discussion points, speakers, a timeline, materials to prepare or read, and other useful resources. The meeting agenda is distributed to all attendees in advance, so they can prepare, and follow it thoroughly during the meeting.

Table of contents:

  • What is a Meeting Agenda?
  • Why is the Meeting Agenda So Important?
  • How to Format a Meeting Agenda and What You Should Include?
  • Tips on How to Run an Effective Meeting
  • Meeting Agenda Examples

Why is the Meeting Agenda So Important?

The meeting agenda is the meeting’s script. It allows everyone to prepare, read referenced materials, think about the meeting’s topic, and define responsibilities. People will know what is expected from them and what to expect from others. The agenda states the purpose of the meeting and its steps, making sure it goes according to the plan.

Furthermore, the meeting agenda gives the meeting a timeline. Each item on the agenda has a precise duration. And although you can still experience delays, it is most likely that the meeting will end when it is supposed to end. The meeting agenda is a good time management tool that saves everyone time and energy.

Agendas have another advantage. They help you notice when a meeting isn’t necessary. Suppose you start writing the meeting agenda and notice there is much to discuss. In that case, materials aren’t ready, or presentations aren’t required, you may transform the meeting into a long email and keep everyone up to date without taking too much of their time.

In short, the benefits of having a meeting agenda are:

  • States the purpose of the meeting.
  • Shares the meeting’s timeline.
  • Inform on speakers and topics of discussion.
  • Allows people to prepare for the meeting.
  • Improves time management and sets the meeting’s pace.
  • Clarifies responsibilities, expectations, and actions.

How to Format a Meeting Agenda and What You Should Include?

The simplest meeting agenda is a list of items with several levels. On the first level, you have the main topics of the meeting. Then, for each topic, you may add talking points, materials, actions, and decisions.

Talking points include a list of speakers, the subject of their presentation, and the time allocated for their speech.

Action and decision items also include the responsible persons and time frames.

After reading the meeting agenda, an attendee should be able to know what the purpose of the meeting is, who will talk and for how long, what is expected of them, and how much the entire meeting will last.

To format a meeting agenda, you may also use tables, spreadsheets, or collaborative tools.


Tips on How to Run an Effective Meeting

1. Collaborate
The meeting agenda is the meeting organizer’s task. However, one can’t know everything. For example, the organizer may not know how long one of the speakers will talk. Therefore, although one person is in charge of the meeting agenda, it is collaborative work. Using Shared Google docs to prepare the draft agenda with the co-hosts, will ensure that all topics are covered, and necesary edits are beeing made on the last version.

2. Plan in advance
Start preparing the meeting agenda a few days before the meeting to have time to ask your colleagues to participate. Send them a draft with the main headers and ask them to fill in their parts: What is the topic of their presentation? For how long are they going to speak? Do they need time to answer questions?

3. Share the agenda with everyone
Give people a chance to contribute besides their presentations. Maybe they want to add talking points or need to make a decision. Allow them to provide feedback and include their ideas in the agenda. You may need a few iterations before completing the meeting agenda. That’s why it’s important to start with plenty of time ahead. The final version of the agenda has to reach all attendees at least a few hours before the meeting.

4. Balance timings
Adjust the time you need to prepare the agenda and the time people need to prepare for the meeting according to the importance and length of the meeting. If you send a heavy agenda just 30 minutes before the meeting, people won’t have time to prepare. But if you send a light agenda three days before the meeting, people will prepare but forget about it.

5. Track absences
Another good tip for preparing a meeting agenda is to know who is available and who is absent. If you count on someone to make decisions and take action and the person is on leave, the entire meeting is falling apart. So use your company’s HR app to check the schedule of your colleagues. LeaveBoard, for example, provides up-to-date data on time tracking and leave planning. As people may have personalized work schedules, LeaveBoard provides real-time data about who is at the office and for how long. It also shows you who is planning some time off. Organizing a meeting when everyone is available is key.

6. Take clear notes
During the meeting, the agenda is your tool for monitoring the event. Mark the discussed talking points, make notes about the absent people or presentations withdrawn from lack of time, register made decisions, and record future actions. All these data will help you prepare the meeting note and avoid missing information and confusion. 

7. Stick to the defined meeting duration
Everyone is busy and has a lot of tasks on their plates. As a chairperson, it’s important that you ensure good timekeeping and that the meeting is on track to be finalized on time. Think that it is not only your time, but if you have a team of 18 people, then many hands are idle. In this way, everyone will know how much time they have for their topic; they will be more focused on their presentation. And if you run out of time, it’s a good practice to cut the meeting, share the conclusion, and the topic not covered will be discussed next time.


Meeting Agenda Examples

Are you organizing a meeting and need a quick sample to copy-paste and adapt to your needs? Look no further. We’ve researched some of the best templates and arrived at the following examples that can be easily used by CEOs, managers, project coordinators, meeting hosts, and department leaders.

Here are the examples of meeting agendas we will cover below:

  • Weekly Team Meeting Agenda
  • Team Meeting Agenda
  • Project Kickoff Meeting Agenda
  • Leadership Team Meeting Agenda
  • Remote Team Meeting Agenda
  • Performance Review Meeting Agenda
  • One-on-One Meeting Agenda
  • Retrospective Meeting Agenda
  • Project Management Meeting Agenda.


Weekly Team Meeting Agenda

  • Discuss the progress of Task #no
    • Speaker #1 – Updates (5 min)
    • Speaker #2 – Updates (5 min)
    • Team lead - Priorities (10 min)
    • Questions / Roadblocks / New ideas (10 min)
  • Plan Task #no
    • Team lead – Present task (5 min)
    • Team lead – Propose planning (5 min)
    • Questions / Discussion (5 min)
    • Decision (5 min)

Download Weekly Team Meeting Agenda

To keep the momentum going, update everyone on the current state of play and discuss on the upcoming tasks and actions weekly meetings are excellent ways to bring all co-workers from your department together. Some of your coordinators might update you on important topics, you might introduce new hires, discuss roadblocks, upcoming initiatives or key goals. 

Time is precios, so don't make the meetings too long, and if there is a point that needs clarified in details, involving only one or two people, than followup with only these colleagues after the meeting is finished. 

Team Meeting Agenda

  • Topic #1
    • Speaker #1 – Presentation (15 min)
    • Q&A (10 min)
    • Proposed actions (5 min)
    • Decisions (10 min)
  • Topic #2
    • Team lead – Present data (10 min)
    • Team lead – Propose action plan (5 min)
    • Questions / Discussion (5 min)
    • Decision (5 min)
  • Topic #3
    • How can we improve our performance? – Free discussion (10 min)
    • Assessment of yearly metrics

Download Team Meeting Agenda

Team meetings are essential in managing people. You can discuss objectives, plans, and tactics to achieve success. You can brainstorm ideas, thank the entire group for the hard work, or acknowledge a certain milestone (ie 5 years in service). Having a clear agenda, sending it in time to the team-members and ensuring that time is kept and all topics are being considered is essential.


Project Kickoff Meeting Agenda

  • Topic #1
    • Speaker #1 – Project presentation (15 min)
    • Q&A (10 min)
    • Assigning roles (5 min)
    • Decisions (10 min)
  • Topic #2
    • Speaker #1 – Update (10 min)
    • Next steps – free discussion (10 min)
    • Decision (5 min)
  • Issues
    • Decrease in performance
    • People leaving the project and needing replacements: Name #1, Name #2
    • Material: Monthly metrics
    • Material: Ideal CVs

Download Project KickOff Meeting Agenda

When have a new major initiative within your business, or a new collaboration with different entities, or launch a new venture you can follow a project kickoff agenda. Take in consideration that compared to a team meeting, here we discuss about something new, focused mainly about clarifying the overall ambition, timeline, goals and responsibilities. Since its the inception, for sure there are many questions, and many unknowns. Some people involved can be new also so, giving some extra details would be helpful also.


Leadership Team Meeting Agenda

  • Speaker #1 
    • Short introduction (5 min)
    • Data analysis (10 min)
    • Identified issues (5 min)
    • Next steps (5 min)
    • Q&A (10 min)
  • Speaker #2 
    • Short introduction (5 min)
    • Data analysis (10 min)
    • Identified issues (5 min)
    • Next steps (5 min)
    • Q&A (5 min)
  • Speaker #3 
    • Short introduction (5 min)
    • Data analysis (10 min)
    • Identified issues (5 min)
    • Next steps (5 min)
    • Q&A (5 min)
  • Speaker #4 
    • Short introduction (5 min)
    • Data analysis (10 min)
    • Identified issues (5 min)
    • Next steps (5 min)
    • Q&A (5 min)
  • Conclusions
    • Open discussion (10 min)

Download Leadership Team Meeting Agenda

The leadership team consists of senior executives responsible for the strategy and direction to achieve the business's vision. There are often hard decisions that leaders have to discuss (i.e., a reconfiguration of a department, firing some employees, cutting a product line) or more positive ones, i.e., hiring quota for Q4, financial resources needed, negotiations over timelines, or an acquisition possibility. There are also situations when senior managers must address internal conflicts, performance issues when good enough doesn't work anylonger, or the expectations are beyond achievement in the current structure.


Remote Team Meeting Agenda

  • Introduction
  • Topic #1
    • Speaker #1 – Highlights / Updates (10 min)
    • Speaker #2 – Highlights / Updates (10 min)
    • Next steps (5 min)
    • Actions (5 min)
  • Does anyone need help with their tasks? Open discussion (10 min)
  • Feedback– Open discussion (10 min)
    • On communication
    • On meeting frequency
    • On collaboration tools
    • On HR processes

Download Project KickOff Meeting Agenda

Remote meetings are the new norm if you're a knowledge worker. What was used to be done physically is now delivered digitally, with all your colleagues connecting from different locations on tools like Zoom or Google Meet. Having 3-4 such calls one after another is not always the best way to deliver work, however, such meetings need to be organized to keep everyone engaged and updated regarding where the project/initiative/team is heading, what are the upcoming milestones, what were the recent wins, and most importantly who is supposed to do what. They also offer a good way to virtually meet your peers, show your "exotic background," and, with the avalanche of collaboration tools (look at Miro, Figma, etc), can have much more interactive and hands-on brainstorming sessions.


Performance Review Meeting Agenda

  • Accomplishments (10 min)
    • Talking point #1
    • Talking point #2
  • Metrics (5 min)
  • Feedback (10 min)
    • From manager
    • From peers
    • From HR
  • Future goals (10 min)
    • Promotion
  • Actions (5 min)
    • Training opportunities

Download Performance Review Meeting Agenda

Performance review meetings are organized when you evaluate the work of a team member plus the areas of improvement for the employee. They should not be very long, however, you should acknowledge accomplishment, set goals for the coming year, discuss career development, align with the business vision, or engagement or job-related challenges. Also, don't forget about agreeing on the follow-up actions.

Tip: While the traditional performance assessment meetings are usually held by team leaders annually, and past performance is discussed based on a survey result, the modern ones are delivered more frequently (quarterly or monthly). A dialogue focused on feedback is closely linked with employee results that the manager can evaluate in real-time.


One-on-One Meeting Agenda

  • Talking point #1 – Project Name (20 min)
    • Current situations
    • Solved problems
    • New identified issues
    • Next steps
    • Mandatory actions
  • Talking point #2 – Career opportunities (10 min)
    • Goals
    • Weak points that need to be improved
    • Future plans
    • Feedback
  • Any other business (5 min)

Download One-on-One Meeting Agenda

One-on-one meetings (also known as 1-on-1s) are regular meetings between managers and peers, focused on getting the pulse of your employees, giving and taking feedback, providing status updates, discussing carrer growth, workload, highlight successes, connecting with each other, or helping to overcome challenges.

These meetings between the employee and superiors work because they build trust among the co-workers, boost engagement, motivation and help achieve goals faster, thus increasing productivity and satisfaction.

As a manager, it’s essential to be supportive and have a coaching mindset; you should be flexible about the topics to be discussed and allow for additional items to be addressed. Making it recurring, i.e., Tuesday at 10 AM, and adding it to the calendar of both employees will ensure commitment and accountability.

Here are some aspects that you should avoid at all costs: Be late, Be distracted, Do all the talking without any listening, or Not asking for feedback.


Retrospective Meeting Agenda

  • Progress made (5 min)
  • Solved problems (5 min)
  • Work in progress (5 min)
  • Unsolved problems/ Bottlenecks (5 min)
  • Next steps (5 min)
  • Brainstorming (5 min)

Download Retrospective Meeting Agenda

Retrospective meetings are reflective meetings that take place primarily at the end of a project, event, or sprint, with the ambition to look back, introspect and think about how the outcome could have been improved and what were the learnings of the experience.

The idea is that developers use such meetings to understand how they could continuously improve their activities.

Tip: After you gather feedback from all participants on what went well, what the challenges are, what we learned, and what we fell short, then investigate solutions, then come up with a list of actions, and summarise the meeting.


Project Status Meeting Agenda

  • Meeting objectives (5 min)
  • Project updates
    • Speaker #1 (5 min)
    • Speaker #2 (5 min)
  • Work in progress 
    • Speaker #1 (5 min)
    • Speaker #2 (5 min)
  • Unsolved problems – open discussion (5 min)
  • Next steps/deadlines/goals (5 min)
  • Financial report
    • Speaker #3 (10 min)
  • Conclusion / Next meeting

Download the Project Status Meeting Agenda

When your team manages projects, holding constant meetings from inception till the project's end is an essential benefit for all parties involved.

The project manager usually wants to asses the following items:

  • Tasks updates,
  • Upcoming milestones
  • Budget
  • Quality of results
  • Issues encountered (challenges, risks, resources, KPI achievement)
  • Next steps

Project startup meetings ensure that the PM assesses all aspects of the project, gets feedback from the team, and boosts transparency,  accountability, and trust. And suppose the project is not advancing accounting to the timeline and plan. In that case, those challenges shall be addressed implicitly (conflicts, lack of agreement, poor quality, little progress, communication issues, delays, etc.).

Tip: To boost accountability and teamwork, we recommend using a project management tool to assign tasks to various project partners and know each partner's progress at any moment. Moreover, for meetings, send them by email, use calendars, and send reminders to ensure everyone involved is aware of the meeting. It is also good to send a follow-up email with the critical decisions, follow-up actions, and next steps so that everyone knows their responsibilities. If colleagues are absent, then they will know if there is something they should work on.

Conclusion

Writing an efficient meeting agenda save everyone’s time and makes meeting purposeful and concise. Gather all the necessary information, from people’s schedules to necessary materials, and ask the attendees to do their part. A meeting agenda is a collective document and should be transparent and straightforward. And remember, it isn’t just a pre-meeting document. You can use it during the meetings to keep the discussions organized and take meeting notes.

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