An agenda is essentially a meeting plan that outlines what topics will be discussed and in what order. This could be a formal outline, following Robert’s Rules of Order, including a call to order and multiple steps to cover old and new business items. Or an agenda can be very simple - one or two items with time allotted for discussion or voting. It all depends on the meeting’s purpose and the needs of your business or team. An agenda for a staff or board meeting may be very different from that for a conference or seminar, but the goals are the same: to inform meeting participants about what topics will be covered and to allow for easy facilitation of the meeting process.
Having a well-planned agenda doesn’t guarantee that a meeting will run smoothly, but if problems do arise, the agenda can help members identify and address the problems and get back on track. A clear agenda also makes it easier to record effective meeting minutes. The simplest way to create a meeting agenda is to use a template that already has an outline designed for you. To save you time, we’ve compiled a list of meeting agenda templates for Microsoft Word that can be downloaded for free. Whether you distribute your agenda to team members as a PDF or Word doc, share via the cloud, or attach it to a team project sheet in Smartsheet, these free templates can help you reach your meeting objectives. We’ve also included tips below on how to best use an agenda to run an effective meeting.
How would you like to create your agenda?
Improve Your Meetings With an Effective Agenda
Whether you use a template or create your own, an agenda can be a great organizational tool for keeping meetings focused. Here are some tips for designing and utilizing an agenda to ensure that meeting goals are met without wasting time or creating frustration.
- Create your agenda early. Don’t wait until the last minute to start writing an agenda. Getting started well before a meeting gives you time to create a professional document and make any needed changes based on feedback from team members.
- Clearly define your meeting objective. The objective can be thought of as a very brief summary of what will be discussed in a meeting. This should be stated at the top of the agenda, below the meeting title or agenda header.
- Prioritize agenda items. As you outline items to be discussed, add them to the agenda in order of importance. Meetings are notorious for running overtime, and you don’t want to miss an important topic because time ran out.
- Break down agenda topics into key points. Creating a more detailed outline that breaks up agenda topics into multiple items for consideration helps attendees see the key issues. This allows for a more focused discussion and can save time.
- Allow adequate time for each agenda item. This is very important, but not necessarily easy. Some flexibility is always required in meetings, and prioritizing agenda items will help ensure that important issues are addressed. But allowing enough time for each agenda topic will help attendees effectively deal with the issues at hand.
- Indicate whether agenda items require a decision. Some of the business covered during a meeting may include topics for discussion or issues that need to be resolved or voted on. Make sure this is clear in your agenda so that attendees know whether they will be part of the decision-making process.
- Inform members on how to prepare for the meeting. Sharing an agenda with team members in advance not only lets them know what to expect during the meeting, but can also describe any preparation needed.
- List who is responsible for presenting a topic. Meeting attendees should have clear roles and responsibilities to keep the process running smoothly.
- Leave time for meeting review. At the end of your agenda, include a space for evaluating the meeting to improve the process in the future. This can also be a time for attendees to get clarification on any issues raised during the meeting or to propose topics for the next meeting.
Classic Meeting Agenda Template
This classic meeting agenda template offers a simple outline with room for any amount of detail you might want to include. The classic format is easy to read and can be customized to fit your needs.
Business Meeting Agenda Template
This business meeting agenda template boldly lists all the essentials: attendees, objectives, agenda schedule, and roles and responsibilities. Creating a concise agenda is the first step toward having a productive business meeting. Stating clear goals for the meeting, prioritizing agenda topics, and limiting the agenda to one page will help attendees stay focused and engaged.
Conference Agenda Template
Make conference planning easier with this free conference agenda template. Fields for date and time, event names and presenter names are clearly marked. All you have to do is fill in the information, which might be a simple schedule of the day’s events or include more elaborate descriptions of keynote speeches and conference sessions.
Meeting Agenda Format Template
This meeting agenda format template is a great example of how to create an agenda that looks professional and orderly. The format would work well for a business or board meeting agenda. Use the lines at the top of the template to record vital information about the meeting, including its title and subject or objective. Agenda items are organized by starting time as well as duration to help keep the meeting on schedule.
Informal Meeting Agenda Template
Whether you need to create an agenda for a PTA meeting, community meeting, or workplace meeting, this free template offers a lot of detail and an organized outline. Action and agenda items are listed separately, and there is room for clear instructions on how attendees can prepare for the meeting. If this meeting agenda template is too detailed for your needs, simply remove any unwanted sections.
Board Meeting Agenda Template
This board meeting agenda template outlines all the required steps for a formal board meeting or executive committee meeting. When you distribute this agenda among board members prior to the meeting, it’s important to also share the minutes from the previous meeting and other relevant documents, such as financial or progress reports.
Formal Meeting Agenda Template
No matter what type of organization your meeting is for, if the meeting will follow a formal agenda in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order, this free template can help keep things on track. This is a simple version of a formal agenda, making the template appropriate for a wide range of users, from clubs and schools to business and board meetings.
Conference Call Meeting Agenda Template
A conference call needs to stay organized and on track just like any other meeting. Use this conference call meeting agenda template to identify call participants and prioritize discussion topics.
Team Meeting Agenda Template
This team meeting agenda template clearly identifies team members, clarifies the meeting objectives, and carves out time for reviewing prior action items as well as the current agenda. Team members can be actively engaged in shaping and addressing agenda items, making decisions, planning future meetings, and evaluating the meeting process. Using a template that includes all of these items makes it easier to allot time for each, creating a realistic estimation of how long the meeting will take.
Weekly Agenda Template
If you have a weekly meeting during which long-term goals need to be tracked along with action items from the previous week’s meeting, this weekly agenda template outlines recurring agenda items as well as new issues. It also ends with a meeting evaluation to encourage improvement and lists the date and time of the next weekly meeting.
Staff Meeting Agenda Template
This staff meeting agenda template designates time for administrative reports, ongoing projects, new business, and open comment. It clearly lists tasks at the bottom along with who is responsible for each action item and due dates. The template makes it easy for staff members to view the time allowed for each agenda topic and presenter names.
Daily Agenda Template
Perhaps you have a daily sales meeting to review the previous day’s business and address ongoing issues. This daily agenda template provides a simple yet bold format for listing the daily agenda along with notes. Customize the free template by adding a company logo or necessary meeting logistics, like the name of the note-taker for that day’s meeting or the time allotted for certain agenda items.
A More Effective Way to Manage Meetings in Smartsheet
Running effective, productive meetings is more than having the right template - it’s about having the right solution to manage the details leading up to, during, and after the meeting, including: Ensuring that attendees are prepared to contribute to the meeting, that action items and meeting minutes are documented, and that items are followed up on after the meeting.
One such tool is Smartsheet, an enterprise work management platform that fundamentally changes the way teams, leaders, and businesses get work done. Over 70,000 brands and millions of information workers trust Smartsheet as the best way to plan, track, automate, and report on work.
Managing meetings in Smartsheet is different for the following three reasons:
- Real-Time Collaboration - As a cloud-based solution, Smartsheet enables you to share your meeting agenda with an unlimited number of internal and external collaborators, creating a real-time, collaborative way to plan and track meeting details.
- Automated Workflows - Built-in automation helps reduce the time spent on tedious tasks, like gathering meeting details, updating agendas, and notifying attendees when they’re responsible for agenda topics or action items, resulting in greater accountability.
- Improved Visibility - With meeting minutes and discussion comments documented directly in the agenda, you keep details in context with relevant topics and action items, creating one system of record for all meeting details.
Learn more about how you can increase meeting effectiveness with Smartsheet.