Develop how you plan an agenda (Part 4 of 6)

In this blog post, I’ll spell out Step 3 of my 4-Step Process for getting the most out of meetings … top tips and techniques I have discovered, invented and developed over several decades. These are the principles I use to keep expanding my capacity to achieve more with less.

This is about creating a compelling agenda that all attendees will find relevant and engaging. It’s about people committing themselves to be fully present.

I would love to hear your ideas and feedback – so please take the time to comment at the end of this post.

Like you, I am always looking for new ideas to enhance both the effectiveness and efficiency of the performance of the teams in which I play.

Setting the Agenda

Develop and distribute an agenda, ideally at least 48 hours in advance.

I am still surprised by the number of people who are prepared to spend time meeting with others, without considering the nature of the agenda. (Not talking here, of course, about a casual meeting with a friend over coffee.) If you value your time, other people will as well. I have come across some people who refuse to agree to a meeting unless they receive and review the proposed agenda in advance. They take particular care in assessing the merits of an invitation before deciding whether to accept, decline or counter-offer.

Some of the CEOs of fast growing and public companies I coach and mentor don’t send me their agenda in advance of a meeting – but they will arrive for our meeting 10 minutes early and map out the things that are highest on their list of priorities on the whiteboard in preparation for our discussion.

In complex, ambiguous and changing environments, sometimes we don’t know exactly what will be the best use of our time until we get to a meeting. However, by practicing the techniques I’m outlining here, leaders can progressively shift from an essentially re-active to a more pro-active approach towards meetings. An agenda distributed two days ago that needs to be refined and updated at the start of a meeting will generally be much better than no agenda at all.

Back Casting

Use an Agenda, composed in the past tense. Let me give you an example. If I am going to be chairing a board meeting, an agenda item could read “Review the Financials”. However, wouldn’t you agree it’s more decisive to say, “We signed off the Financials”? This line of thinking creates a whole new range of actions that could (should) be taken before the meeting even begins, for example:

  • Distribute the Financials to all members of the board
  • Contact each member to determine whether they have any queries
  • Direct those queries to the CFO and provide the feedback to the appropriate members, ensuring they are satisfied with the response

The difference is that when the board meets and we arrive at this agenda item, some board members may like to provide some comments, highlighting their interpretations and observations, raising items for future consideration, however the motion to accept the Financials will proceed quite smoothly and quickly, relative to how it may have progressed without this “past tense” perspective.

CLICK HERE to read the previous article in this 5-part series titled, “Design the way you set up a meeting”.

GO TO THE NEXT article in this series titled, “Deliver your best performance in meetings”.

DOWNLOAD [PDF] the full report on ‘How to get the most out of meetings’.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.