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I want an agenda

and I want a decent one, at that.

When did meeting agendas go out of vogue? Who decided we had endless time to sit through unfocused meetings?

We’re all pushed to produce more in less time in our jobs. In our volunteer work, which often includes meetings, we have limited time to devote. Unfocused meetings are not a good fit. An agenda, a good agenda, spells out the purpose of the meeting. If there is no purpose, it goes without saying---there should be no meeting.

An effective meeting begins with an agenda distributed several days in advance. It should list the location, the beginning and ending times. If this is a group of people who don’t know each other well, include a list of those invited and each person’s role. An agenda lists problems to solve or motions to be presented.

An agenda distributed in advance gives everyone time to think about the topics to be tackled and about the materials they might bring.

And during the meeting, an effective leader (or lacking that, an effective communicator at the meeting) can focus the discussion by bringing the group back to the agenda.

Do meeting leaders think they don’t have time to prepare agendas?
Then count the time being wasted by those sitting through unfocused meetings. Perhaps meeting leaders don’t know how to create effective agendas. There are good resources on the Web and in books.

When you are in charge of a meeting, prepare a good agenda and conduct a focused meeting. This is so rare today that people will actually be in awe and will tell you so. It’s really fun and quite rewarding.

Take meetings seriously. Have a focused agenda. It is effective communication. It’s a civil thing because it respects the time of those attending.

“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”
Benjamin Franklin, American statesman, scientist, philosopher, writer and inventor (1706-1790)

Web resources
www.EffectiveMeetings.com, How to Create an Agenda, Step by Step, www.effectivemeetings.com/meetingplanning/index.asp
Meeting Wizard, Effective Meetings – Tips, www.meetingwizard.org/meetings/effective-meetings.cfm
Basic Guide to Conducting Effective Meetings, Developing Agendas, www.managementhelp.org/misc/mtgmgmnt.htm#anchor632336

One book
Dogbert’s Top Secret Management Handbook, as told to Scott Adams, author of The Dilbert Principle
“If you’re part of a meeting that’s scheduled for 60 minutes, feel free to use it all. And remember: Agendas are suggestions, not rules. And rules were made to be broken; therefore, suggestions are made to be ignored.
Sometimes you’ll blunder into meetings called by people who have a ‘mission’ or a ‘purpose’ for the meeting. That’s the sort of thing they should be doing on their own time, not yours.”