How to Write a Meeting Agenda That Works: Tips, Example and Template

Having trouble with meetings going off-topic? Preparing a meeting agenda in advance might be what you need. Here’s how to do it efficiently.

meeting agenda tips, meeting agenda template, meeting agenda example

We’ve all been there: you call into a meeting, there is no clear facilitator to lead the group, you’re not sure what the meeting is about or what is expected of you. The meeting is unfocused and a complete waste of everyone's time. One of the key reasons why these kinds of chaotic meetings happen is a lack of a simple meeting agenda.

A meeting agenda helps the people involved know what the meeting should accomplish so the meeting doesn't just hold conversations without outcomes.

It provides structure, sets the context before the call even begins, and keeps team members focused during the session.

In this article, we’ll break down step by step how to write an effective, simple meeting agenda that works:

📄 What is a meeting agenda?

A meeting agenda is a plan for your meeting. It covers what you're meeting for, what you'll be talking about, and what outcomes are expected. Depending on the complexity of the meeting, it might also cover which team member will lead which part of the meeting and for how long.

A meeting agenda will only work if people will read it. And for people to read it, it needs to be short and sweet.

✍️ How to write an effective, simple meeting agenda?

🎯 Tip #1 – Identify the goal of the meeting

This is the most important step that will define the rest of your decisions. What outcomes are you expecting? Try to use verbs to describe your goal, e.g. to decide…, to choose… .

📖 Tip #2 – Collect materials to be read upfront

Is there any homework that the team needs to do before the call? If everyone shows up already having familiarized themselves with the context, it's a true time-saver.

✍️ Tip #3 – Write agenda items

👉 Discussion items. This is the meat of the meeting and the whole reason you opted to meet face to face. Itemize what topics need to be discussed making sure they all directly connect to the goal of your meeting.

👉 Action items. This is the part of the agenda that is alive and gets populated as you’re discussing the topics during the meeting.

✍️ (Optional) Tip #4 – Collect agenda items from the team

Depending on the size and type of the meeting, this is where you might want to involve your team: to get feedback on the items you’ve outlined yourself or to request their input if it’s a collaborative meeting.

🤔 Tip #5 – Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize

One of the biggest pitfalls of any agenda is the ambition to cover more topics than possible. Be critical at this stage and remember that the less fluff, the more effective meeting.

Tip #6 – Allocate time

Most importantly, be realistic. Things take time! If it’s a short meeting and allocating time doesn’t make sense, make sure the priorities are especially clear – e.g. we don’t move to topic 2 until we reach a decision on topic 1.

🙋 (Optional) Tip #7 – Assign facilitators to each agenda item

Again, this tip is optional as it depends on the size and complexity of your meeting. In most start-ups, the person who sets the meeting is the one facilitating it. But if it’s a collaborative effort, it’s possible that you will not be the one leading all parts of the meeting. Make sure it’s clear who’s the owner of which agenda item.

Let’s put this into practice:

💡Meeting agenda example

meeting agenda example, Hera calendar, agenda management
Example of a simple and effective meeting agenda

✨ Meeting agenda template

Fancy yourself using this approach in your meeting invites? Here is our simple and effective template. Feel free to use it!

⏰ When should I share the agenda?

Create and share the agenda as early as possible. The exact times depend on the amount of preparation the attendees need to do before the meeting.

If your meeting attendees need to do quite a bit of preparation, you will need to share the agenda roughly a week in advance. This will allow time for them to ask any questions and prepare well on their end whist working on their own schedule.

If there is little to no preparation, sharing the meeting agenda 2 to 1 day in advance is a good way to go.

If you’re wondering when you should be setting up your meetings, check out our blog about managers’ and makers' schedules. It will help you make some key decisions when it comes to protecting your team’s most productive hours.

📅 How does Hera support meeting agendas?

👉 Feature #1 – Event description

Naturally, we support event descriptions – the box is there ready for that killer meeting agenda!

👉 Feature #2 – Private notes

Got some ideas to jot down about the meeting that you don’t want to show up publicly? We got you covered.

Hera calendar, private notes, meeting agenda
Include any private notes in preparation for your meeting

👉 Feature #3 – Email meeting participants without leaving your calendar

Need to send you attendees a quick important update? In Hera, you can drop them a message without leaving your calendar.

email attendees in a click, Hera calendar
Don't leave your calendar to send an email to the attendees

👉 Feature #4 – Meeting templates

This one’s for true calendar management pros out there – in Hera, you can create a meeting template that you can reuse in a single drag and drop. Include anything that’s repetitive – attendees, title, and, yes, a meeting agenda template. This way, you just need to fill it in or edit it.

meeting template, meeting agenda template, Hera calendar
Create a template event and re-use it with a single drag and drop

A meeting can go off track for a lot of reasons: no clear facilitator, no context, no outcome expectations. As simple as it may sound, setting an agenda that is short and clear is the first step to fighting these all-over-the-place types of meetings.

A good agenda states what your team wants to accomplish and how it will get there. The less fluff in it, the better chances of productive time together with the team.

Spend a few minutes of your time creating a sharp meeting agenda and watch your return on investment show up in a form of effective meetings that keep the needle moving forward and getting things done.

Got yourself a sharp meeting agenda but struggle to show up to meetings on time? Check out our blog all about why showing up on time matters and what practical steps you can take to make it happen.

Thanks for reading! 👋

Team Hera