How to Write a Meeting Agenda in 7 Steps

How to Write a Meeting Agenda in 7 Steps

How many times have you sat through a meeting you didn't need to be in? Or where you haven't been able to contribute effectively because you weren't told what to prepare?

That's why meeting agendas are so important. Meetings without agendas are almost always chaotic, disorganized, and a waste of time. Effective meeting agendas help to ensure every meeting is structured, productive, and well-managed.

In this guide we'll walk you through how to write an agenda for a meeting in seven simple steps, and share a meeting agenda example for you to see what it looks like in practice. But first, let's take a closer look at what meeting agendas are.

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What is a meeting agenda?

A meeting agenda is an outline of what will take place during a meeting. The main purpose of a meeting agenda is to give participants a clear outline of the meeting's structure, including discussion points, goals, speakers, and a timeline.

Sharing this information with participants before a meeting gives them time to prepare and sets expectations. During the meeting, the meeting agenda helps to keep things focused and on track. After a meeting, a meeting agenda can be used to recap the meeting and can form the template for your meeting minutes.

How to write a meeting agenda

1. Define the purpose of the meeting

Start by clearly defining the purpose of the meeting and what you want to achieve by the end of the session. That might be finalizing the budget for the next quarter, brainstorming ideas for your next marketing campaign, or agreeing on the destination for your next company retreat.

Setting clear objectives and goals helps set the tone for a more structured discussion and a more productive meeting. Setting these expectations also means that participants are able to come prepared with relevant data, insights, and ideas.

2. Ask participants for input

Reach out to attendees ahead of time to ask if they have any topics they'd like to include in the meeting agenda. This is a crucial step for creating a comprehensive meeting agenda as it could reveal ideas and issues that you hadn't considered.

It's also a key step for running inclusive meetings, as it helps everyone to feel valued and that their voice is being heard. People are also more likely to actively engage and participate in a meeting if they've been given the chance to feed into the agenda, leading to more effective and well-rounded discussions.

3. List out each topic

Once you've got a comprehensive list of topics to be discussed, list them out and organize them so that they're in an order that makes sense. This forms the structure of your meeting.

Look at each topic and define the specific purpose of each of them. The purpose might be to inform participants about essential information, get input from participants by asking questions, or making a decision regarding different options.

Being clear about the purpose of each agenda item will help to keep discussions focused and prevent the meeting from going off track.

4. Assign time for each topic

To avoid overrunning or having to skip important agenda items, assign specific time slots for each topic. This helps to ensure you have enough time to cover all the essentials, and helps you to keep things moving along throughout the meeting.

Be realistic with your estimates and try not to cram too much into one meeting. It'll only end up feeling stressful if you try to cover too much.

You should also factor in extra time for questions at the end. That way, participants know they'll have time to ask their questions, even if the designated discussion time for a particular topic has elapsed.

5. Assign a discussion leader for each topic

For each agenda item, assign a person responsible for leading the discussion or presenting the topic. This ensures that each part of the meeting has someone to guide it, making the meeting flow more smoothly.

Each discussion leader should ideally be the most relevant person, with knowledge of the topic. This ensures that the discussion is as informative and productive as possible.

Make sure they know upfront that they're responsible for that topic, so that they have time to prepare any relevant data, documents, or slides.

6. Specify if you plan to share a meeting transcript afterwards

Make it clear on your meeting agenda if you plan to record the meeting and share a meeting transcript or meeting minutes for attendees to refer back to. That way, participants know in advance whether they'll need to take notes, or whether they can fully focus during the meeting, knowing they'll receive detailed notes once the meeting has ended.

Specifying if you plan to share meeting minutes will also reassure those who aren't able to attend - or who are deciding whether to or not - that they'll be able to catch up on what's been discussed and decided, without having to book in a meeting to be brought up to date.

7. Share the agenda in advance

Once you've compiled all of these elements and written your meeting agenda in a clear and structured manner, it's time to share it with all the participants at least 24 hours before the meeting. This gives everyone plenty of time to prepare so that they're in a better position for contributing to the meeting in a meaningful way.

Provide any supporting documents and signal if there is any specific preparation work that participants should complete before the meeting.

What should be included in a meeting agenda?

As a quick recap, here's what should be included in a meeting agenda:

  • The purpose of the meeting

  • A list of topics

    • A brief description of the topic

    • Estimated time allocation for each topic

    • Discussion leader for each topic

  • Supporting documents

  • Time for questions

  • A final overview

Meeting agenda example

Below is an example of a meeting agenda. Feel free to copy and paste it into a document to serve as a template when writing your meeting agenda:

Meeting Title: Project Launch Discussion





1. Opening (5 minutes)

Brief welcome and introduction, and review of agenda

2. Overview of Project Launch Plan (10 minutes)

Presentation of the launch timeline and key milestones

Presenter: [Project Manager's Name]

3. Marketing and Promotion Strategy (10 minutes)

Discussion on marketing tactics and promotional activities

Lead: [Marketing Lead's Name]

4. Budget Review (10 minutes)

Overview of the project budget and allocation of resources

Presenter: [Finance Manager's Name]

6. Q&A Session (10 minutes)

Open floor for questions, clarifications, and additional input

7. Next Steps and Action Items (5 minutes)

Summary of decisions made, and assignment of tasks and responsibilities

8. Closing Remarks (5 minutes)

Recap of the meeting and closing comments. A meeting transcript will be shared via email within 48 hours for your reference and further action.

Final thoughts

I hope that this guide has highlighted the importance of meeting agendas, and given you the confidence to create your own agendas to send out ahead of your next meetings.

And remember, your meeting agenda can form the template of your meeting minutes after your meeting has ended. Check out our guides on how to take meeting minutes and how to transcribe meeting minutes for more information.

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