Any good meeting is based on an agenda—a structured guideline of tasks—so discussion can be focused. There are many different structures of agendas; some are formal, where others can be more informal. A group, organization or company that meets regularly over a period of time usually has a structured agenda, formatted in a similar way each meeting. Agendas should be distributed at the beginning of meetings or sent out in advance, via e-mail for members to print or copy themselves. Having the agenda distributed before the meeting, allows members to prepare themselves.

The basic outline of an agenda might consist of the following:

1. Introductions
2. Review notes from the last meeting
3. Hear updates from other members, possibly concerning account teams or department reports.
4. Old business
5. New business
6. Open discussion for member announcements, concerns and thoughts
7. Schedule time and place for next meeting

However, an agenda is only a plan, it can be modified by adding items, moving tasks or even tabling the agenda if a necessary assignment or emergency must be dealt with.

Agendas should be adapted to the specific meeting’s purpose, while also using it as a checklist to help the group work through its tasks effectively and efficiently. Also, remember, agendas can be simple, straightforward or even extremely creative!

* Lumsden, Gay, and Donald Lumsden. Communicating in Groups and Teams. 4th ed. Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth, 2004. 74-77.

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