How to Create an Effective Team Meeting Agenda

How to Create an Effective Team Meeting Agenda

Portrait of Jessica Lark's Author
Portrait of Jessica Lark's Author

Jessica O

April 18, 2024

4/18/24

Apr 18, 2024

4/18/24

12 min read

Unproductive meetings are a problem in business. Many people, including Jeff Bezos, with his two-pizza teams and Amazon 6-pager, have tried unique ways to tackle the problem.

“Every meeting that does not stir the imagination and curiosity of its attendees is what I like to call a PLO: a Permanently Lost Opportunity.” These are the words of legendary management guru and author Tom Peters.

The best way to avoid PLOs is to plan your team meetings well in advance. You need to go in with a clear idea of what you want to achieve and how you expect to achieve it. In doing so, you’ll not only improve productivity but also boost the morale of your entire team.

And that starts with an agenda. But not just any agenda — a well-crafted and effective team meeting agenda.

You may think that the more detail you put in your agenda, the better, but that’s just agenda theater. In this article, we show you how you can plan and run more effective meetings without having to pay expensive subscription fees for a mishmash of collaboration tools.

What is the importance of having a team meeting agenda?

The statistics on meeting productivity pre- and post-COVID-19 lockdown are quite revealing. The number of meetings per week has gone up, as has the number of people attending. However, meetings have become shorter, and we’re spending less time in them. Plus, 37% of meetings are run without making active use of an agenda.


Use Lark's agenda template to help plan team meetings

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What many people miss out on is that an agenda provides a clear plan that outlines the what, why, and who of your meeting. Your team benefits in the following ways:

  • Preparation time: If you circulate it before the meeting time, your agenda will give your team time to prepare for the meeting. This is especially helpful if you expect each participant to bring something specific into the meeting.

  • Structure: The worst and most unproductive meetings are those that meander along without an apparent goal or purpose. An effective agenda avoids that situation.

  • Trust: A clear and well-thought-out agenda tells your team that you value their time and contributions.

  • Efficiency: Running a meeting without an agenda is like building a house without a plan — extremely inefficient and costly.

  • Accountability: Allocating action items and responsibilities to individual team members makes them personally accountable for those tasks.

  • Positive outcomes: Clear objectives and having attendees who know whether they’re meant to be debating or deciding result in successful meetings.

What should you include on the agenda for your team meeting?

When you’re crafting your team meeting agenda, you should always begin with the basics:

  • The meeting’s date, time, and location

  • A link to the meeting (if it’s virtual)

  • The purpose of the meeting

  • A list of topics or agenda items (with estimated time frames for each)

  • Who’ll be attending (and which agenda items they’re responsible for)

It’s those last two items that lead us to the details for your agenda, which should always include the following:

  • Action items: These are items assigned for action by specific team members (usually with a deadline) during or after the team meeting.

  • Discussion items: These are items your team needs to discuss and make decisions on. They may even require additional research or work and become action items.

  • Information items: These are usually updates of some interest to your team. They typically involve items and tasks.

Including all these essentials in your agenda prevents your meeting participants from feeling confused or lost during the meeting.


Chaos reigns in team meetings without an agenda


As a result, you can run a smooth meeting that doesn’t go overtime or leave people scratching their heads about what to do next.

3 team meeting agenda examples for you to use for your next meeting

There are many different types of meetings. You can have performance review meetings, staff meetings, all-hands meetings, leadership team meetings, board meetings, or level 10 meetings, for instance.

We’ve selected three meeting agenda examples for you to use as meeting agenda templates. Let’s take a look.

1. General team meeting agenda

A general team meeting can have any purpose. The agenda example below is representative of a typical project team meeting, where the project manager chairs the session. However, you can apply this format to any kind of team meeting.

Date and time: [Date of meeting] [Start time of meeting]

Duration: [Duration of meeting]

Attendees: [Names of all attendees]

Agenda

General updates (Project Manager: [Name], [Time frame])

  • Here, list the overall project progress, key metrics, and other relevant status updates.‍

Action items review (Project Manager: [Name], [Time frame])

  • Check team members’ progress on the action items presented during the previous meeting, if there were any.


A daily Scrum is short, sharp and to the point


Item #1 (Owner: [Name], [Time frame])

  • Have the relevant team member outline the issue at hand and describe the plan and progress that’s been made so far. They can also report on roadblocks (or potential roadblocks) and open the floor for comments or questions.

  • Rinse and repeat for any additional agenda items.

Wrap-up (Project Manager: [Name], [Time frame])

  • Recap any decisions that the team made during the meeting.

  • Identify action items and assign them and their deadlines to specific members.

  • Entertain general comments and questions.

2. Daily scrum meeting agenda

The goal for daily scrum meetings is to be short — usually no more than 15 minutes.

There are three standard questions asked of the team, with roughly five minutes allotted for them to answer each. The idea is to have a sharply focused meeting for team members to get in sync, report on their progress, and deal with obstacles.

Date and time: [Date] [Time]

Duration: 15 minutes

Attendees: [Names of team members]

Agenda

Yesterday (Scrum master: [Name], 5 minutes)

  • What did you accomplish yesterday? Give a quick recap of the Scrum team's goals for the day, and have team members report on victories achieved the day before.

Today (Scrum master: [Name], 5 minutes)

  • What do you plan to complete today? Get a brief outline from each team member on what they plan for this working day.

Blockers (Scrum master: [Name], 5 minutes)

  • Are there any blockers on your horizon? Have a team discussion about any hurdles, with a focus on problem-solving and developing action items to bulldoze those barriers.

Pro tip: Some scrum masters will add segments for task coordination (to make sure everyone’s on the same page) and continuous improvement (to brainstorm process tweaks and optimizations).

3. Project kickoff meeting agenda

The main purpose of a project kickoff meeting is to collect the information needed to prepare a project’s foundation documents — usually a project charter.

Date and time: [Date] [Time]

Duration: [Duration of meeting]

Attendees: [Names of project team members and stakeholders]

Agenda

Introduction and objectives (Project Manager: [Name], [Duration])

  • The project manager introduces the project team to the stakeholders and provides an overview of the project.

Roles and responsibilities (Project Manager: [Name], [Duration])

  • The project manager notes the assigned roles and outlines each person’s responsibilities.

Project timeline (Project Manager: [Name], [Duration])

  • The team discusses how the proposed project timeline will be achieved.

Resources and tools (Presenting: [Name], [Duration])

  • The available resources and tools are listed, and requests for others are entertained.

Risk management (Presenting: [Name], [Duration])

  • The team discusses project risks and possible contingency measures.

Q&A and next steps

  • This step helps to secure buy-in.

Action items (Project Manager: [Name], [Duration])

  • The team identifies action items from the meeting and assigns deadlines to them.

9 best practices for creating an effective team meeting agenda

The first question you need to ask before coming up with your team meeting agenda is quite simple: Could this be done via email?

If the answer is yes (or even maybe), then stop right there, compose your email, and send it. Leave the meeting for another day.

If the answer is a resounding no, however, then it’s time to dive into the following nine best practices for creating an effective team meeting agenda.


Building an agenda works best as a collaborative process


1. Be clear on the purpose of the meeting

What type of meeting is it? What is its objective? Why must it be a team meeting? Is it a brainstorming session? Do we need to share important information with the team and get feedback? Are we looking for a solution to a particular problem?

Answering these questions makes it a lot easier to work out the purpose of the meeting and build a list of topics or items that need to be shared, discussed, or decided upon.

2. List the discussion points and prioritize them appropriately

Once you have your list of topics for discussion, determine which of them are the most important. Your own expert knowledge of the work your team is doing can help — or you could use a prioritization strategy.

The goal here is to ensure that your team can focus on each of the important items on your list during your meeting. So, if you run out of time, the essential work has been done. The rest can be carried over to the next meeting.

3. Limit attendance to team members who absolutely must be there

Effective meetings have the right people at the table. And smaller meetings lead to faster decisions and more engaged employees. Consider these factors to ensure that you get the most value possible out of your team meeting.

But there’s another consideration: the “Rule of 7.” According to this rule, which is based on research into the limits of our brains by Professor George A. Miller at Harvard University, we can keep up to seven things in our short-term memory at any given time. So, consider limiting problem-solving meetings to no more than seven attendees or problems if you want them to be effective.

4. Share the agenda beforehand

One way to share your draft agenda with your team is to include it on the meeting invitation. This makes it easily accessible to all.

Delegating tasks and responsibilities before the meeting also helps ensure that the meeting is successful. And sharing the agenda well ahead of time allows the team to prepare anything you’ve earmarked for them to handle.

The timing for this is important, though — a general rule of thumb is to give attendees three days to prepare.

If you’re using Lark, you can use Lark Docs for managing and sharing your agenda.


Lark Docs is a powerful word processor designed for online collaboration

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This feature also enables your team to ask questions and collaborate in real time on the agenda items before the meeting starts.

5. Actively seek input

Sharing your agenda and asking for your team’s input can motivate them to contribute their ideas, identify other issues that could add value to the meeting, and express concerns. However, how much they contribute depends on your team culture and the individuals involved.

Of course, this carries a risk: if a team member suggests a change and you choose not to use it, that may discourage them from making suggestions in the future. It’s critical to clearly communicate your rationale for not using that idea if that’s the case.

6. Keep the meeting as short as possible while still covering all necessary items

Deciding on a meeting’s duration can be tricky. After all, there are different schools of thought on the subject.

Donna McGeorge launched a career as an author and speaker with a book about 25-minute meetings. Francesco Cirillo’s Pomodoro Technique was her inspiration.

But 25 minutes may not be enough to cover everything you need to in your team meeting. So, treat it as a guideline only. Let the work determine the final number.

7. Estimate the time needed for each item

Look at your task list to work out how much time to assign to each item. And if the total amount of time needed is more than what’s booked for the meeting, cut out the lower-priority items. They could be either tackled in a later meeting or handled via email.

Finally, order the tasks on your agenda so that the important items are tackled at the beginning when everyone is fresh. You can also use task batching to organize your agenda into groups of similar tasks.

8. Assign roles and responsibilities

Delegating tasks can be tricky. You need to identify who’s best suited to handle each topic and make sure that you brief them on what they need to do. The good news, however, is that assigning responsibilities turns “your” meeting into “our” meeting.

It’s also helpful to use software like Lark Suite to create agendas, host virtual meeting participants, and record meetings.

9. Document the decisions made

Most meetings have minutes, which are typically an edited meeting transcript. Nowadays, you can use AI-based software tools like Lark Minutes, which can generate meeting minutes from the recording. All you have to do is highlight the action items and key decisions before sharing the meeting notes.

The way ByteDance uses Lark for same-page meetings is a good example of this:

  • The meeting organizer prepares a document with the discussion points and circulates it.

  • At the start of the meeting, everyone reads the meeting notes and adds comments in Lark Suite.

  • The organizers highlight those comments while sharing the screen.

You could also use a meeting notes app to make your meetings even more productive and streamline your workflow. Or take it a step further by going for an AI note-taking app to relieve the burden of tedious admin.


Attendees annotate the document for later discussion in the meeting

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Common FAQs about team meeting agendas

How do you set up an effective meeting agenda for virtual teams?

You can set up effective meeting agendas for virtual teams by structuring them in a way that gives everyone an opportunity to have their say — and this needs prep time.

Being detailed with meeting agendas is also important. Everyone should know when they’ll need to contribute, what they need to contribute to, and how much time they have to do so.

Lark has a useful agenda template to help get you started.

How much time should be spent on each agenda item in a team meeting?

The answer to this question depends on the item itself, how many people need to weigh in on it, and how complex it is.

For example, imagine your seven-person team needs to have a brainstorming session. You can schedule two minutes for each person and a two-minute wrap-up. Since they’ll know beforehand that they’ll only have two minutes each, they can prepare their contributions accordingly.

How do I improve my team meetings?

Creating an agenda is a good start for improving your team meetings. Too many meetings can be unproductive. That’s how things fall through the cracks.

You’ll always have limited time in a meeting, so you need to make the most of the time you do have. You can do that by striving — while also giving everyone a voice — to stick to the agenda timeline. If you do this well and the agenda is crafted with enough wiggle room, you may even finish the meeting early. Nothing boosts team morale quite like having a few extra minutes to spare after a really productive meeting.

And if you want to take advantage of modern technology, consider using an AI meeting assistant to automate repetitive tasks.

Simplify your agenda crafting with Lark

Developing a well-crafted team meeting agenda requires collaboration. So, using a tool like Lark to facilitate the process makes a lot of sense — especially if you have remote teams scattered around the world. Lark features 24/7 multi-language customer support.

With Lark, you can kiss goodbye to issues like expensive subscriptions, fragmented data, information silos, hidden costs for training, and having to use many different tools.

Register with Lark today to see for yourself what it can do for you and your teams.

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