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The art of creating an effective meeting agenda

Tips and templates to help you structure a purposeful agenda for your next meeting.
> How to create a meeting agenda
Running better meetings might feel like an abstract goal, even when you have tools to guide your process. When we’re in need of some concrete inspiration, we turn to the companies we admire—like Google and Zapier—to see how they design their meetings. And we can’t help incorporating their insightful, actionable toolkits and guides into our own processes.
As with anything in life, a little bit of planning makes all the difference between lofty ideation and execution. A thoughtful meeting agenda is crucial to running a meeting where everyone knows what is being discussed and how they can contribute meaningfully to the conversation.
In this article, we break down the steps behind creating a meeting agenda that will improve your team’s productivity. But first, a definition...
What is a meeting agenda?
A meeting agenda is a to-do list for your meeting, your meeting goals. And while they're not required, most productive meetings have them.
At Coda, we often kickoff meetings by crowdsourcing the agenda topics in real-time with . With this simple ritual, we work to eliminate bias, support our remote team members, and collaboratively prioritize the topics that should be discussed first. And because it’s a table, we’re able to take notes alongside the discussion topics and action items for the next meeting (which makes for more organized ).
What do I need to include in my meeting agenda?
The core of a meeting agenda is a group of discussion topics or tasks to accomplish during the meeting. Beyond that, the breadth of your agenda will depend on the meeting itself. If this is a standing or informal meeting that you’ve had weekly for the past year, then your agenda may be an informal mix of old and new business. If you’re in a planning meeting or creating a board meeting agenda, your might include the purpose, goal, and guidelines of the meeting.
How to design a good meeting agenda.
Designing a good meeting agenda is an art form—one that gets easier with practice. When creating an agenda, think less about the writing aspect and more about the elements you need to set up a successful meeting. These are some of the most important things you should consider including in an agenda.
Goals. Identifying goals shows attendees what needs to be accomplished in the meeting.
Outline. List topics to discuss with clear and concise information about them that does not overwhelm attendees.
Themes. Identify themes that will tell colleagues the topics they can expect to learn more about during the meeting.
Supporting documentation. Point attendees to content, copy, decks, links, and presentation materials that will provide insight into the meeting.
Allow time for each topic. Structure and schedule time for each topic so you can provide everyone with a chance to discuss them.
Discussion. Carve out a few minutes at the end of the meeting to allow people to ask questions and share their thoughts. This is the point in the meeting where attendees can bring up issues you may not had thought about.
Final review. Use this point in the meeting to solicit feedback from attendees about what may be improved for following meetings. This time can also be used to recap meeting topics.
Why should your team use meeting templates?
With meeting templates, you never have to start from scratch. We’ve turned Coda’s most popular compositions of building blocks into time-saving templates and made them available inside your doc. And every Coda template is customizable so that you can make it fit your team’s needs.
Need something specific, like a meeting minutes template? You can always pull Coda’s building blocks together to structure your team’s processes with a .
9 meeting agenda templates and toolkits for more effective meetings.
Below, you’ll find a collection of team meeting agenda templates and toolkits that we thinking will come in handy when designing any meeting, from board meetings and sales meetings to standup and scrum meetings. All you need to do is copy the doc to get started.
Distributed team meeting agenda
As the CEO of a 100% distributed company, Wade Foster had to come up with unique ways to run his weekly staff meeting. Check out this template to see , including how he worked a pre-meeting health check into the agenda items.
SMART goals meeting template
In 2020, the Underscore VC team found themselves in the middle of what they call systems hell. As they found their way to a better place, they created a roadmap of templates for goal-setting, decision-making, weekly check-ins, and standing meetings. Use their template to .
Gamified meeting toolkit
This aptly named framework uses games to incentivize participation in meetings. And you don’t have to create the games on your own. This includes templates for 21 games to help you prep your meeting agenda, broaden ideas, prioritize ideas, and move toward a decision.
One-on-one meeting guide
Jessica Powell is a former Google VP and author of The Big Disruption: A Totally Fictional but Essentially True Silicon Valley Story. And she’s captured her insights on successful employee-manager relationships in this . Managers, use this doc to 1) set expectations, 2) focus your 1:1 meeting agendas, and 3) connect short-term and long-term goals.
Inclusive meeting toolkit
At Coda, we believe that everyone’s voices matter. This describes the rituals we use to make sure everyone is heard, like sending out a pre-read and using a voting table to avoid bias. Copy the doc for a meeting agenda and Q&A combo.
Meeting agenda etiquette guide
When transitioning to a distributed team, we asked ourselves what it meant to be polite in a digital workspace. And while we focus this guide on doc collaboration generally, the best practices we crowdsourced can certainly be applied to any meeting agenda. Use our to create a more convenient space for collaboration.
Timed presentations with Q&A
At Coda, is our weekly knowledge sharing meeting. We use strict time keeping so each presenter is able to get enough time to speak, and question voting per topic so folks in the large attendee list can all be heard.
You may also like these Meetings templates
Good agendas, better meetings.
Agendas help drive meetings forward. Without them, attendees may feel like they lack direction and focus on what needs to be accomplished or discussed. With an agenda, people will understand the purpose of the meeting which allows them a chance to prepare for items they need to focus on, keeping everyone working towards their goals. Templates that can easily be repurposed for agendas is one way to build a culture that embraces effective and productive meetings.
For almost every type of meeting you need to schedule, chances are there’s a toolkit or template that will help create the right agenda for your needs. By implementing some of these examples, you’ll signal to your company and colleagues that you’re serious about making meetings as productive as possible.
It takes some work to craft a meeting agenda, but the time spent investing in one will save time for everyone by clearly stating the topics, objectives, and goals of the meeting well before they attend. Start your agenda by thinking about the purpose, goal, and guidelines you hope to accomplish. If you need more agenda inspiration, you can find templates in Coda’s or .
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