eeting agendas save a lot of time.
It often seems like just one more thing to do and that's why I used to think they were overkill for most meetings.
But I finally realized something about agendas: You will create an agenda for every meeting, whether you like it or not. The only choices you have are:
- Plan and create the agenda ahead of time.
- Wing it and let the meeting attendees create the agenda on the fly.
But rest assured, you will end up with an agenda.
Most meetings suffer from a few major problems that an agenda can solve:
- Having the wrong people in the meeting, whether too few or too many. An agenda helps ensure you think through who really needs to be in this meeting.
- Forgetting to discuss a key topic. An agenda ensures you've outlined / thought about key topics and that they are right there for everyone to see during the meeting.
- Spending too much time on low priority topics. Some people add durations to each topic on an agenda. That works, but you can also just glance at the clock, and then the topic list mid-meeting and get a quick idea if you need to move things along.
- Not having something prepared. This is one of the big ones. Without an agenda, it's really easy to forget that something needs to be prepared ahead of time. Meetings are already a time suck; even more so if you can't even address the key topics because some piece of information wasn't prepared.
I used to think setting aside 15 - 30 minutes to create an agenda ahead of time was a net loss in productivity, but solving these issues dramatically reduce the total time spent on prep + meeting + followup.