Developing a purposeful agenda: Part 1

A carefully prepared agenda sets the stage for a successful meeting.

According to the Webster dictionary, a meeting is a “gathering of people for a particular reason.” An agenda is meant to be an outline that guides the communication of a meeting and moves the group toward accomplishing their goals.

A purposeful agenda has a clear goal and purpose. A purposeful agenda is specific, intentional and inclusive. It is an important tool used to help a group achieve their intended goals.

Developing the framework of a purposeful agenda requires careful thought by the leader or person preparing the agenda and usually includes updates of both previous accomplishments and new discussion items.

The following items are intrinsic in the development and execution of a purposeful agenda:

  • Clear understanding of the goal and purpose of the meeting
  • Planned inclusion of all attending participants
  • Clear start and end times
  • Estimated timelines for discussion items
  • Opportunities for participants to identify and clarify action items
  • Distribution of agenda to all participants at least 24 hours in advance

A purposeful agenda might look like this:

XYZ Meeting Agenda
April 14, 20XX
3 - 5 p.m. (times are approximate)

Mission of the Organization is stated here

  1. Welcome/Introduction (5 min) - Everyone
  2. Action Items (20 min)
    1. Committee BBT results and feedback – John Smith
    2. Updates and additional assistance for planning retreat – Carrie Long
    3. Project XTS timeline report and next steps – Pueblo Strand
  3. New Business (40 minutes)
    1. Presentation and discussion of equipment purchase - PPT Corporation
    2. New procedures for volunteer workers – Chari Chee
  4. Additions (15 min)
    1. Board member additions
    2. Round Robin input
  5. Next Steps and next meeting (10 min) - Everyone
  6. Closing (10 min) – Everyone

Part 2 of this article will define why each of the topics listed on the above agenda are purposeful.

The Michigan State University Extension Leadership and Community Engagement team offers educational programs in several leadership areas, including communicating through conflict, volunteer board development, meeting management and facilitation skills development, and organizational strategic visioning and planning.

Other articles in this series:

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