What is the best meeting agenda template? An effective meeting agenda template enables leadership to run smarter, more efficient meetings.
Productive meetings don’t just happen. Effective gatherings start with a well-planned board meeting agenda template that outlines who will be present, the meeting’s purpose, and specific action items to discuss.
The same meeting planning guidelines apply whether you’re gathering a nonprofit board of directors or hosting recurring meetings with your employees. You need a meeting agenda if you want to stay on topic and on schedule.
What is a Meeting Agenda?
At its most basic, the best meeting agenda outlines the who, what, when, where, and why of your meeting. But you need to present those action items in summary form that even a busy board of directors can quickly review to prepare for a board or committee meeting ahead of time.
Without an organized meeting agenda, it’s common to waste time or delay decisions because the wrong people were present or they didn’t prepare data for a topic ahead of time.
By outlining the meeting agenda early, your meeting’s purpose is clear. You can allocate the proper amount of time for discussion and host a productive meeting with all the essential staff or board members present and prepared.
Elements of an Effective Meeting Agenda
Meeting objectives, action items, and discussion points should be stated explicitly in the agenda. This helps your team plan ahead of the meeting and then write a committee report after the meeting with clear next steps.
Successful meeting outlines serve as a roadmap to keep board meetings on track. Whether you’re hosting recurring meetings, such as an operations meeting, or annual board of directors meetings, the best meeting agendas should include the following elements:
- Objectives: Why is this meeting happening? What decisions or discussions need to take place with this group of people? A meeting objective sets clear expectations and goals for participants. (If you can’t succinctly state the meeting’s purpose ahead of time, this meeting may be unnecessary and handled better by email or in smaller groups.)
- Meeting attendees: Include a list of required and optional attendees, and make sure they’re invited with plenty of time to prepare. It’s helpful to list who will be present and their titles or duties (such as the board chair, delegates, convener, mover, moderator, or secretary). If your meeting includes presentations from outside sources, include their names and titles on the agenda, so your board of directors knows who plans to speak and on which topic.
- Action items: Spell out specific tasks that need to be completed during the meeting, such as board votes or appointments. Your action items list could be as simple as “discuss X,” or as complex as “plan product announcement of Y.” Whatever the task, put it on your meeting agenda as an action item. Try to limit action items to a practical number to keep your meeting length reasonable.
- Informational items: Sometimes, the board meeting is a work session or topics are meant to share information or updates that don’t require action. Highlight these on your meeting agenda, so your board of directors and other attendees know what information to prepare and presentations to expect.
In summary, a meeting agenda should answer the following:
- Why are we meeting?
- What are we talking about?
- What information will need to be shared?
- What are the meeting action items?
A concise agenda even makes it easier to produce meeting minutes or a meeting summary later. This nonprofit board meeting minutes template helps keep accurate records after the meeting ends.
Meeting Agenda Template
Now that you know why you need a meeting agenda template, where do you start? At its very basic, every organization’s meeting outline should include these essential details:
Date: Put the meeting date right up top, so it’s easy to find and schedule conflicts can be handled quickly.
Time: Consider your attendees’ schedules and time zones when choosing the time. For recurring meetings, make sure to highlight any changes from the norm to avoid confusion.
Meeting Participants: Make it clear who must attend and who’s optional. It helps board members and staff plan when they know who else will be present upfront from the meeting agenda. To avoid wasted time, your agenda can guide who actually needs to attend.
Meeting Purpose: Explicitly explain the objective of the meeting to avoid surprises or wasted time.
Agenda: The bulk of your agenda will be a list of reports, action items and topics to be addressed in the meeting. Break these down for quick skimming with bullets, such as:
- Item 1
- Item 2
- Item 3
Action Items: Whether it’s approving a report or voting to approve the budget, your meeting agenda needs to specifically list these items to ensure they are each addressed in turn. Start with the most important action items to make sure you don’t run out of time.
An effective meeting agenda template is vital to any meeting’s success. Start with a board meeting agenda template to streamline planning your next meeting and see how it helps your board stay on task.
Master Meeting Agenda Creation With OnBoard
Cut meeting times and avoid being unprepared by developing a master meeting agenda template for your board. You can download OnBoard’s board meeting agenda template to start planning your next meeting.
With a little pre-planning, you’ll know who to invite, how to prepare, what action items will be discussed, and what your next steps should be for every single meeting.
If you’re ready to invest in transforming your board management, OnBoard’s board management software improves your meeting effectiveness by organizing communication and collaboration. OnBoard software includes tools to customize meeting agenda creation as well as a host of other useful features to track compliance, keep better records, and streamline meeting minutes to save time when the meeting ends and the work begins.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is the Standard Meeting Agenda Format?
A standard meeting agenda format outlines expectations for every meeting at your organization.
You can customize the meeting agenda to fit your board’s needs or the specific topic or committee, but most board agendas will include a call-to-order, committee reports, action items for discussion, and new information.
Creating a standard meeting agenda format with a template helps streamline planning for future meetings.
What Should be in a Meeting Agenda?
A meeting agenda must list:
- The time, date and location of the meeting;
- Who needs to attend
- The specific topics to be voted on and discussed
Additional action items and procedures may be necessary for a nonprofit board, corporate board of directors, or government committee board, such as an official call to order and adjournment.
About The Author
- Josh Palmer serves as OnBoard's Head of Content. An experienced content creator, his previous roles have spanned numerous industries including B2C and B2B home improvement, healthcare, and software-as-a-service (SaaS). An Indianapolis native and graduate of Indiana University, Palmer currently resides in Fishers, Ind.
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