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This technique will show you how to use agendas to run effective and efficient meetings.

Anyone who has worked in a group has experienced meetings that seem to run on forever and where nothing gets accomplished. Agendas are a very simple way to help keep your group on track.

Creating an agenda involves creating a list of what the group needs to meet about that includes the goal of each item, who's responsible and how long it will take.


You can use the following templates to create you agenda and record decisions:


1. Solicit agenda items

If possible, you should solicit agenda items before the meeting from all the people in the group. If that's not possible, you can also do this at the start of the meeting.

2. Create agenda

Use the agenda template to create your agenda. The template has 4 columns:

  • item -- describe the issue the team needs to talk about
  • disposition -- this the type of goal you have for the item, it can be one (or more) of the following:
  • information, for example making an announcement
  • discussion, more in depth talk that requires more sharing of information, questioning, feedback, etc.
  • decision, something for which a definitive decision must be made 
  • responsible -- the single person responsible for leading the talk on this item
  • time -- when time you should finish this item by

3. Distribute and review the agenda

Ideally, you should distribute copies of the agenda to everyone in the group before the meeting starts. This helps people keep the meeting on track.

4. Monitor the meeting

During the meeting, the person responsible for each item should lead the meeting on that item. In addition, the facilitator should help keep the meeting on track by making sure that you don't take too much time on any item and that different items don't switch to other kinds of talk (e.g., an item that only requires providing information slipping into an unnecessary discussion).

5. Record decisions made / actions to be taken

During the meeting and at the end, you should record all the decision made/actions to be taken using the decisions made template. For each action, you should write down who is responsible and when it must be done by. 

Keeping track of these decisions help you from continually rehashing complicated issues. It also identifies the items that need to be added to your to-do lists.


Kaner, S. (2007). Facilitator's guide to participatory decision-making. John Wiley & Sons