At your workplace meetings, do people often arrive late? Do they leave early? Or contribute in ways that hinder vs. help? Do one or two people dominate? If so, blame the agenda, not the people. 

Get value from the people at the table.Meeting Agenda Value/I-to-I

Design meeting agendas with reserved places for each person to take the lead on the topics they care most about. That’s how you get people to arrive on time, take part in engaged dialogue, and contribute to making the best decisions.

Design the Agenda.
  • Follow the steps recommended in our article, “Collaboratively Build the Agenda.
  • Use the questions you receive from invitees as agenda topics, and organize them from general to specific.
  • Assign the person who submitted a question to be the discussion lead for that question. It’s only natural that he or she will have a special interest in the topic and therefore be in a good seat to lead the group in discussing it.
  • As a rule, every person invited should serve as discussion lead for at least one question on the agenda.
  • Ask any invitee that has not submitted a question for discussion, “How would you like to contribute to the conversation?” Reflect their answer in the agenda. For example, “Susan will attend the meeting as IT SME. She’ll address questions that may arise about integration with the new system.” Stating every person’s role and how they will contribute creates shared expectations. That helps prevent unproductive conflict.
  • Assign approximate times to discuss each agenda question, for example “2:00 to 2:15”. Use time of day, rather than “15 minutes”. That enlists group ownership for managing time and prevents the agenda being waylaid due to latecomers.
  • Is there a habitual late-arriver to your meetings? If so, consider how it might support the meeting purpose to put their topic early in the agenda, to create new urgency for arriving on time. Or slot their topic at an arrival time you’ve come to expect of them. Whatever the case, don’t backtrack on your agenda to accommodate latecomers. Instead, express to late arrivals you’ll be happy to catch them up after the meeting.
Get value from people before the meeting.

Reading reports during a meeting is a productivity thief. Don’t allow time for it. Design the agenda with the assumption that reports and other data will be shared far enough in advance of the meeting for invitees to review them before the meeting begins. State this as an expectation in the draft agenda email you’ll send to invitees in advance of the meeting.

Want to know more?

Design meetings that create more value, reduce unproductive conflict and generate better decisions. Schedule a call.