Productive meetings inspire us. Whether you are brainstorming sales strategies or solving a client’s problem, the best meetings seemingly come alive.
Think back to your last really productive meeting. Everyone contributed their energy and knowledge to achieve a common goal. In the same way that each person brought their unique contributions to meetings, agendas also assume personalities. You can use the seven different personalities of an agenda listed below to make your meetings dynamic and beneficial to everyone:
1. Traffic cop – direct conversations
Use the agenda to immediately get the conversation focused on the reasons for calling the meeting. As people start to drift onto other subjects, remind everyone about the purpose of this meeting and then write down the other issues so they can be covered at another time.
2. Firefighter – handle new emergencies
No doubt you’ve gone into meetings having to switch from the original purpose to another one that popped up 10 minutes ago. This describes the perfect scenario for using the agenda to table the original topic for another time, and focus on addressing the current issue. Depending on the severity of the issue, you still might have time to cover the original topic after resolving the new emergency.
3. Personal trainer – focus on details
For those folks who do not like working out, they hire personal trainers — to motivate them to go to the workout and then go through the proper warm up, exercise and cool down phases. Writing an agenda will ensure that you focus on the details going into the meeting, and prepare the other attendees to make important contributions.
4. Interior designer – create appropriate setting
Create the right environment to promote the results that you want. If you can choose the venue, decide if your needs are best met in a conference room with glass doors, in someone’s office or at an offsite location. Let’s say you can’t control where you have the meeting or the physical setup of the table and chairs. You do control the presence of flip charts, AV equipment and materials to meet your goals.
5. Chief of staff – prioritize issues
By definition, you can’t focus on 23 different items. Look and listen to the presidential candidates and you will hear just a few common themes. The best example of driving home a point came with the phrase, “It’s the economy, stupid” to elect Bill Clinton. Use your agenda to cover only the most urgent points, saving the others for a different time and place.
6. Graphic designer – provide impactful visuals
Ho-hum PowerPoint slides with eye-chart bullet points and razor thin slices in pie charts can put insomniacs to sleep. Create your visuals based on how the attendees will see them and use them. Save the deep dive into details for the handouts because people can write on them and study them. People remember stories. The purpose of a visual is to provide a hook to recall your points with ease.
7. Reporter – inform others
Sending out your agenda before the meeting gives other attendees the time and opportunity to prepare and deliver their ideas in a productive manner. No one likes to be caught off guard and everyone wants to look good. The more details you can provide the attendees on the goals and expectations for the meeting, the better results you will see once it begins.