How to create an agenda for remote meetings?

• October 20, 2020
agenda for remote meetings
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irtual meetings are a holy grail for remote and globally dispersed teams to collaborate and communicate effectively.

Those days when you had the opportunity to walk over to someone’s desk or call someone in person to discuss and clarify issues before or after a meeting are long gone. Today, you need to be prepared with a strategic meeting agenda that should be shared in advance to ensure the success of virtual meetings. 

(Read — Remote work: Collaboration guide to get work done)

Why you need a virtual meeting agenda

  • Agendas ensure that time is not wasted during meetings.
  • Setting an agenda allows attendees to be prepared and create a higher chance of meeting goals.
  • The goals you set in the agenda establish the framework of an effective meeting.

Choosing the right online meeting tool is crucial

The right technology makes the process of running an online meeting easier, faster, and more collaborative. While the requirements may vary, every team requires excellent video and audio viewing features. Some meetings involve a few while others involve hundreds of attendees, so select a platform that can cater to a massive number of attendees.

The aim is to keep people focused on what’s important. Therefore, while assessing potential online meeting tools, check out the additional features like screen sharing and recording so that the meeting can be shared with attendees later, and they need not be distracted with note-taking during the meeting.

How to create an agenda for remote meetings?

Here are a few tips for creating a compelling virtual meeting agenda with your team, regardless of the meeting type.

Define meeting goals

Prepare a summary of the goals and points to be discussed in the meeting. It should be mentioned first, below the meeting title or agenda header.

Establish a defined, clear and shared understanding among all participants about why the meeting is planned and what is their role in making the meeting productive. Gathering the right inputs in advance will help direct the meeting towards objectives and ensure that the output is relevant and prolific. 

(Read — Remote work: Virtual meetings guide for managers)

Notify participants in advance

Plan the participants’ list and their roles, and communicate it to them in advance so that they are prepared. It is also a wise idea to gather inputs from team members asynchronously, and subsequently, identify the more relevant pointers for the remote meeting.

You may even invite people to create a community of shared interests. When working virtually, employees miss out on those simple, casual, but meaningful interactions with co-workers. 

In the virtual world, scheduled meetings are the only interaction times, so leverage it for team-building. Consider it as another vital meeting objective and opportunity to model ways of communication and organisational culture building.

(Read — Remote team? Here are 15 team building activities to get them excited)

Be vigilant of the meeting duration

Of course, it varies based on the type of meeting and number of attendees, but try to keep meetings short, as the attention span in virtual meetings is shorter. 

Specify time frames in your agenda and stick to them. With multiple presenters, give each one a set amount of time. If a person is allotted five minutes to speak, avoid debate or in between discussions.

Also, keep track of meetings to get a better idea for scheduling the right amount of time for future meetings. Always try to keep the meetings short so that the participants stay engaged and less distracted during the meeting.

Evaluate your content suitably and determine the duration of each topic. Poor time management can stretch meetings beyond the prescribed schedule. 

Supporting materials

Prepare the relevant documents and supporting files and share them along with the meeting agenda, so that attendees have time to go through the material and come prepared for the meeting. 

Supporting materials may include reports, important emails, promotional flyers, everything necessary for a productive discussion.

(Read — Remote work: Leadership guide for CEOs)

Plan your meeting agenda with the end in mind. Make a robust agenda, respect it and use this information for future meetings so that your estimates are accurate.

Plan your meeting agenda with the end in mind. Make a robust agenda, respect it and use this information for future meetings so that your estimates are accurate.

Double-check the invitee list

Always double-check the list of invitees, as you get more clarity when the meeting gets closer. Do not miss out on important people and at the same time, don’t add those who are not associated. Everyone participating must gain and contribute.

Adding people without careful thought will keep them away from their work and make room for tangential discussions. 

Plan a focused meeting

Plan a focused meeting, and set clear priorities. Prepare an agenda with a set of goals to be achieved, ways to accomplish and roles of individuals.

All meetings are different; they differ in terms of purpose, expectations, and responsibilities. They can be decision-making meetings, innovation-driven, information sharing, status update meetings or team-building meetings. Therefore, few of them require brainstorming, and others may be to share presentations or collect information. 

Don’t try to fit everything into one meeting. Before you set an agenda, decide what type of meeting you plan to have and what you want to achieve. 

Final takeaway

Simplistically speaking, the agenda is nothing but a plan. Begin your agenda planning with the end in mind. Make a robust agenda, respect it and use this information for future meetings so that your estimates are accurate and productive.

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