Setting a Meeting Agenda

Effective Meetings

Ian Pratt

What is an Agenda?

An agenda (meeting) is a sequenced list of matters to be attended to in a meeting. The agenda is produced prior to the meeting to ensure the participants

  • are informed about the topics to be discussed,
  • can be prepared for the meeting i.e. completing pre reading and familiarizing themselves with issues to be discussed,
  • know what is expected from them during the meeting, and
  • know what outcomes they should expect from the meeting



Key Components of an Agenda

Your agenda should provide clear and complete information about the meeting to the attendees, to achieve clarity your agenda should include the meeting

  • Date
  • Time
  • Place
  • Purpose, and
  • List of topics
  • Time allocated for each topic
  • Person responsible for each topic
  • Outcomes expected



Starting a Meeting

The following items are good practice "housekeeping" agenda items that normally take five minutes or less at the start of the meeting

  • Check attendees and apologies
  • Validate the agenda
  • Approve the minutes of the previous meeting
  • Check for new or urgent business
  • Correspondence received or sent
  • Check open action items


Regular Meeting Items

For recurring meetings it is good practice to keep essentially the same order to the agenda, the following agenda items are generally used

  • Regular topics
  • New business items (Ask for any new business items)
  • Other business (Ask for any other business, this can be combined with new business)
  • Recap actions arising during the meeting
  • Date of next meeting



Meeting Agenda Sequence

If your meeting runs over time you will not get to the items at the end of your agenda. Place the items at the end of the agenda that are less critical, that can be carried over if you don’t get to them.



Meeting Timings (of agenda items)

In business, recurring meetings tend to have a fixed pre-planned duration.  Whilst this can be necessary it can also limit the ability of the meeting participants to fully discuss all items on the agenda.

To the extent possible you should consider the time required for each agenda item and allocate a realistic timeframe. The overall duration for the meeting should be varied to accommodate all items on the agenda.

Agenda items that require discussion tend to longer than planned.

It is good practice to put the time allocated against each item on the agenda, particularly for longer meetings. This practice will help you to ensure the meeting is running to planned time.



Selecting Agenda Items

As with all things in business, it is good practice to be consultative. You can be consultative by asking the participants to submit suggested agenda items. Once these have been received you can create a draft agenda.

The draft agenda can be circulated to the attendees for further comment before being published.

It is also good practice to ask at the start of the meeting if anyone would like to add to or change the agenda.


Free Templates

Meeting Agenda Template

Meeting Minutes Template

Additional Reading on Meeting Agenda


WikiHow - How to write and agenda

Effective Meeting - How to write and agenda, step by step

Wikipedia - How to write and agenda