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There are many people who have an aversion to the dreaded business meeting, and honestly, it’s hard to blame them, considering how most of these discussions go on a daily basis. Oftentimes, these get-togethers begin fine, but end up devolving into absolutely unstructured conversations that lead to nowhere fast.

Plus, they cost tons of money: nearly $37 billion per year, according to statistics cited by The Muse.

This can happen to any meeting, whether held in-person or online. But if you let things stay the way they are, you may never be able to accomplish anything by the end of the meeting. Do not let this scenario happen to you.

Learn how to create an effective agenda so that all of your professional conversations will be more productive. In this article, we will teach you a few tips and tricks on how to streamline your video meeting.

Write Your Agenda Early

You should write up your meeting agenda at least three days in advance in order to give yourself—and your attendees—enough time to prepare for the actual discussion.

Figure Out the Start Time

No conversation can happen without even knowing this essential information. Make sure to indicate what time you want the conference to begin. If you are meeting with other people from different time zones, you should make sure to indicate what time that would be in their area.

But make sure to pick a time that works for everybody, as nobody appreciates having to stay up at three o’clock in the morning for a business discussion.

Specify Who Should Attend

Do not just send out a general invite expecting anybody and everybody to come to your conference. Odds are high that some people may even ignore your invitation, thinking that they are not essential to the conversation.

In any case, determine who are the most important people who should join the conversation. Usually, these are the people in your organization who have the power to make and finalize decisions. Do not invite the whole department if a single representative is enough to get the job done.

Prepare the Meeting Link

If you are using trusty video meeting software, then you should have the ability to send out invites that already contain the link to the virtual chat room you will be using.

That spares you the inconvenience of having to send out each link to each individual attendee, which can let you save time for more important tasks. Make sure that the link is secured with a password and can only be accessed by the people you have specifically invited. You do not want any eyes or ears prying on your confidential meeting, now, do you?

Set the Meeting Objective

Get at the heart of why you are even gathering people in the first place. What is the main goal that you want to achieve after the meeting is over? Try to write it down on no more than one sentence. If you are really having trouble condensing your objective, then use two sentences at most.

Once you have figured out what you want to accomplish, you can then list down the topics that you want to discuss during the conference. Make sure to list them in order, from the most significant topics to the least important details. To make sure you do not go over time, try to limit your topic list to just five items.

Set a Time Limit Per Topic

As much as you may want to allow people to talk freely about all of the topics at hand, you might end up stuck in a two or three hour meeting if you do so. To prevent this from happening, make sure to allot a specific amount of time to discuss each topic.

At the same time, make sure that you are not just setting your meeting to last 30 minutes or an hour when it can actually be accomplished in just 15 minutes. Check your topic list, and let that guide you as to whether or not you need tons of time or just a few minutes of everybody’s time.

Make Sure to Send Helpful Additional Info

For instance, are you expecting certain people to bring specific data to the conference for everybody’s perusal? Even better, why not have that person send the data three days in advance as well? That should give everybody enough time to read things through.

If you expect somebody to take down minutes of the meeting, make sure to say so in your email. Otherwise, you might be surprised to find that nobody had been taking down any notes at all after the discussion is done.

You can even go one step further and treat it like a script, with each topic assigned to specific people, according to Effective Meetings.

Once you start creating agendas using these tips, you will find that your conferences will start running so much more smoothly and effectively. You will never want to go back to the old ways of conducting meetings ever again.