Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tips on how to write an Agenda and Minutes of a Meeting


Scheduling an office meeting can be a simple or complex task depending on the way you organize things prior to the meeting. One of the most important things to do before the meeting is to give all attendees a brief idea about the topic for discussion during the meeting in order to have themselves prepared for productive discussions at the meeting. Be prepared with the necessary paper works or documents that would be required to be circulated as handouts for discussion. Carry files and notes as back up that could be required at any point of time for reference to topics for discussion.

Exchange of emails and phone calls are one of the causes for reduction of face to face meetings. Meetings are usually held to brainstorm and discuss on a set agenda items. A meeting can be short or long but at times there are chances to deviate from the main topic of discussion which leads to loss of time.

It is always best to have productive meetings and conducting an interactive session or else people could tend to go on a mental holiday in spite of being physically present in the meeting.
Meeting invite:

In order to schedule a meeting an invite needs to be formally sent out via email calendar in MS Outlook stating the date, time, venue and agenda for discussion.  It is advisable to send invites much ahead prior to the day of meeting; this will give all attendees sufficient time to be prepared for discussion.

Any documents or handouts that are to be discussed at the meeting need to be circulated prior to the meeting.  If the meeting is official one which might require important decisions to be made, in such cases it is advisable to ensure that the meeting room is set up with proper lighting, seating arrangement, refreshments or projector for better view of documents to be discussed. 

 There are few tips to keep in mind before you schedule a formal meeting.

Meeting Agenda:

Agenda is a key feature to conducting a meeting. A meeting without agenda will lead to nowhere and aimless discussions. Agenda is a key factor in controlling timed debates and discussions at the meeting. The person who calls for a meeting has to first ensure that the attendees need to come prepared for discussion. Many a times people attend meetings with blank faces and are not prepared for meetings. If there are certain documents or points that need to be discussed during the meeting, it would be advisable to circulate these handouts or documents a day or two before a brainstorming session so that the members can arrive at the meeting prepared with points of discussion leading to a productive conversation. An Agenda should consist of basic components as stated below:
1.       Date-

The date of the scheduled meeting has to be clearly stated at the top of an agenda

2.       Time-

The time scheduled for conducting the meeting is essential to avoid any conflicts with schedules of attendees

3.       Venue-

The location of the meeting has to be specified whether it would be an internal meeting or external meeting held in a selected location

4 4.       Attendees-

It would be helpful if the names of the members who are invited to attend the meeting are listed down.

5 5.       Agenda Topics-

The main reason for conducting a meeting is to discuss a set number of points. By stating the intended topics for discussion one can control the time spent on discussing a particular topic. For example if there are 6 agenda topics and you have 30 minutes to start and finish a meeting then 5 minutes can be dedicated to discuss each item to ensure productive usage of time in an efficient manner.
6.       Notes-

If you need to add any extra notes other than the main agenda items. It can be specified.

Minutes of the Meeting:

Minutes are supposed to be recordings of final decisions and action planned during the course of the meeting. It is supposed to be a summary in a detailed and crisp. Make sure to use formal close ended sentences without punctuation. Below are the basic components that should be included in the minutes of a meeting.

1.       Date, Time and Venue-

This should relate to the agenda in which the date, time and venue was mentioned earlier prior to the meeting unless there were any last minute changes to any of the above schedule.

2.       List of Attendees-

At times it is very important to note the list of attendees. People who did not attend the meeting can be listed as a separate category termed as ‘apologies’. Attendees have to sometime vote for certain decisions discussed during the meeting an in case of their absence their vote might not be counted hence it helps to mention their names in the minutes as absentees.

 3.       Proceedings of the meeting-

This is the body of the minutes which contains a detailed summary of the discussion or debates during the meeting. It comprises the final action plan that has to be carried out which acts as an evidence for future references.

 4.       Conclusion-

The conclusion of the minutes should be brief stating if the meeting was adjourned or rescheduled to lack of time or concluded with a consensus of all members in agreement to the above points discussed.

Avoid making an error of noting each and every dialogue or suggestions made during the meeting. Focus on the summarized decisions taken for action to be met before a particular deadline.

The minutes of the meeting has to be circulated to all attendees including the members who were invited but did not attend due to any obvious reasons. If another meeting is held to discuss always remember to carry a copy of the minutes of the previous meeting related to the agenda matter for references.

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