Writing a Meeting Agenda

An agenda is an important part of any large meeting running smoothly. When dealing with multiple speakers or parties on a conference call, assigning specific time increments to each speaker or Q&A session will keep everyone on track.

When I think of something that needs an agenda, I think of a large event that has multiple speakers and subject matters. An agenda, in my opinion, is to let me know who's speaking, how long they will have the floor, and give the main idea of what information they are going to present.

What makes an effective agenda?

Pick a type of agenda. Did you know there is more than one kind of agenda? I didn't until I started doing research for this post. The most popular agenda is called a "common agenda". This kind of agenda will call the meeting to order, offering a reading of the agenda, and then call for business matters to begin. The second most popular is a "priority agenda". This agenda places items of business in order of importance so that the highest priority items are sure to be addressed. Those are just two of the most popular ones, but there are a lot of different ways to arrange an agenda.

How detailed will your agenda need to be? First, consider if your agenda is going to be sent to just speakers or if all attendees will get a copy. You also need to decide just how deeply you will break out the agenda. Do you need to list every speaker or subject matter? A good rule is to break out the agenda when you will have two (or more) speakers and / or two (or more) subject matters. If you’re doing a town hall type of conference where multiple speakers will weigh in on one topic, listing the speakers should be sufficient.

Have someone else look at it. Get a second pair of eyes on the agenda to make sure you didn't leave anything out or get your timezones mixed up. Since you’ll be sending out your agenda with your invitation (right?) you don’t want to have to update this document multiple times. Limit changes as much as you can, and letting a second person read over it will help.

Like most things when it comes to having successful conference and webinar events, the amount of time you spend planning will have a great effect on how attendees respond before, during, and after your conference is over.

Are Your Emails Clear?

Email, texting, and chatting are very popular forms of communication but these written forms of communication do something that we weren't expecting when we embraced them with open arms.

They are hurting our ability to deliver clear messages

In our company, email is a very popular form of communication - we email customers and each other to get follow ups on accounts or answer inquiries. It's important that everyone in our company knows how to write a great email, but I've noticed lately that some messages are getting lost in translation. When you remove elements from communication like tone and non-verbal signs things become more open to emotional interpretation. Since how someone says something is just as important as what they actually say, email can cause more problems than it means to.

To make sure that you're communicating effectively when using email be sure to embrace these suggestions and start applying to your emails immediately.

When In Doubt...

Have you been emailing with a co-worker or customer a couple of times and there are still questions? Make your last email say something like Is there a good time that I can call you to go over this? Like I said we communicate with our customers through email and many times they need instructions on how to use some of our different features. If a customer has to email us twice to get the answers to their questions, we pick up the phone and give them a call. Simple as that.

Get a Second Opinion

There may be a chance that your email needs to send a stern message. Most often this occurs when you are the customer and you're trying to make your point clear. Just be sure to have a friend or someone else check the message over before you hit that send button. Being stern is one thing - being a jerk is another.

Ask for Confirmation

When setting up plans to meet or set up a conference call if you initiate the contact, be sure to ask the other party to confirm the date and time selected. A simple Just let me know if that works for you and I'll look forward to seeing / speaking with you then can cut down a lot of confusion on who is going to start the call or if it's even a good time for all the people involved.

Email is not a perfect form of communication and when you're communicating in writing, you lose a lot of the other clues in your communication strategy. Be sure you're writing clear and effective emails to your customers, co-workers, or even your friends. What are your must have rules for writing emails?