How to Design an Agenda for an Effective Meeting BY Roger Schwarz

Seek input from team members.

Select topics that affect the entire team.  

List agenda topics as questions the team needs to answer.

Note whether the purpose of the topic is to share information, seek input for a decision, or make a decision.

Estimate a realistic amount of time for each topic.

Propose a process for addressing each agenda item.

Specify how members should prepare for the meeting.

Identify who is responsible for leading each topic.

Make the first topic “review and modify agenda as needed.”

End the meeting with a plus/delta. 

If your team meets regularly, two questions form a simple continuous improvement process: What did we do well? What do we want to do differently for the next meeting? Investing five or ten minutes will enable the team to improve performance, working relationships, and team member satisfaction. Here are some questions to consider when identifying what the team has done well and what it wants to do differently:
  1. Was the agenda distributed in time for everyone to prepare?
  2. How well did team members prepare for the meeting?
  3. How well did we estimate the time needed for each agenda item?
  4. How well did we allocate our time for decision making and discussion?
  5. How well did everyone stay on-topic? How well did team members speak up when they thought someone was off-topic?
  6. How effective was the process for each agenda item?To ensure that your team follows through, review the results of the plus/delta at the beginning of the next meeting.
    If you develop agendas using these tips, and the sample agenda and template below, your team will have an easier time getting — and staying — focused in meetings.


    Roger Schwarz is an organizational psychologist, speaker, leadership team consultant, and president and CEO of Roger Schwarz & Associates. He is the author of Smart Leaders, Smarter Teams: How You and Your Team Get Unstuck to Get Results. For more, visit www.schwarzassociates.com or find him on Twitter @LeadSmarter.

    This article is about MEETINGS

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