An agenda is a very powerful tool to have set in place when planning any type of meeting. This becomes especially true when the meeting you are planning involves a large group of people, something that is often the case in meetings of trade associations or professional organizations. Without a clear agenda set ahead of time, it can be very easy to get off-track, allow others to hijack the meeting's purpose, and to waste time. In today's bus economic climate, none of those things are acceptable or profitable, so it only makes sense to have an agenda laid out beforehand.
1. Plan an Agenda
Planning an agenda can be done by simply creating an outline of topics that need to be discussed. Just as if you were writing a paper in school, list out topics that you want to cover, and then place them in an order that makes sense. You could choose to discuss the most important topics first in order to ensure that they get discussed in case time runs out, or you could get less-important topics out of the way first in order to focus the majority of the meeting on the more important issues. Another good idea is to pass along your agenda outline to relevant parties so that they can review it and add their notes. Many times, it can be easy to miss very important topics when you plan an agenda by yourself.
2. Allow Participation
Another consideration when planning an agenda is the need for participation. In some cases, it may not be prudent to allow meeting attendees to participate in the discussion, but many times, it's helpful to allow questions and discussion. With this in mind, try to factor in a specific time for questions within your agenda. This time can be slated at the end of each section, or you may choose to have a solely dedicated question time at the end of the meeting. Whatever you choose, try to keep things on schedule so that all pieces of information can be presented efficiently and effectively.
3. Consider a Timed Format
Speaking of scheduling, you may consider including using a timed format for your meeting. This format has each section timed out, and when the time expires, you move on to the next section, even if not all information has been presented or all questions answered. While this may seem counterproductive, for many people, it helps to keep them on track. If you know that you only have 10 minutes to get to the heart of a specific issue, you may be more inclined to stick to the topic, present the issue clearly, and work more efficiently. Once again, however, you'll need to be disciplined in order to not overrun the time and miss out on presenting information when using this format.