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Thursday, 28 January 2021 12:29

Meeting - Agenda Tips

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Successful MeetingHere is a collection of helpful Meeting - Agenda Tips as compiled by Rae Stonehouse.


Terms of Reference: 

  • Have them in writing.
  • Review them regularly to ensure that they are still valid.
  • Decision-making process.  If you want participants to be engaged in and committed to the meeting, the decision-making process should be clearly understood. Doing this will ensure that peoples' decision-making behavior is consistent with expectations. There are three basic decision-making processes:
  1. Autocratic, where a leader makes the decision.
  2. Democratic, where each participant votes and the majority rules.
  3. Consensus, where all members "consent" or agree to move forward before finalizing a decision.

Clarifying the decision-making process is important because nothing saps trust and morale from a group faster than misunderstandings about decision-making authority and process.




Write out each agenda item as a goal or an action. Rather than writing down “discuss budget” as an agenda item, analyze the goal for the item. Write it as a specific task that needs doing such as: "define budget categories and develop tentative amounts in each category". Making a task focused agenda helps to organize the thinking of the participants and makes it very clear exactly what is being done or asked for.

Be sure to identify the type of each item, is it a discussion, a brainstorm for ideas, or a decision? Provide background information with the item so people know WHY this is on the agenda.

Identify resources for each agenda item. Is there a committee or person who knows about this agenda item? Talk with them and assign them the task of introducing the issue and provide background information.

Think about how to approach each agenda item. Are there any specific agenda items which may need a special format for discussion or resolution? Are their issues which will evoke strong feelings or emotions? Plan some what if scenarios - What if we split on this issue what process will I use. What if a certain committee member gets loud again?


Reasons for Minutes: 

  • Memory refreshing for those present
  • Information for those absent
  • History of acts and accomplishments

They serve as a bridge from one meeting to another ensuring continuous action rather than duplicated action or counterproductive action. 


Capturing and reporting key outcomes of the meeting are critical for follow-up activities. At a minimum, be sure to capture these items in your meeting notes:

  • Decisions
  • Action items
  • Open issues and deferred items

At a minimum, the recorder should keep a summary of the meeting that includes action items, decisions and open issues.

Action items: Action items are to-do’s assigned to attendees at the meeting. Record the task, the person responsible and the date agreed upon to complete the task.

Decisions: All decisions that may affect future choices of the group should be recorded.

Open issues: New issues raised at the meeting but not resolved there should be recorded so they can be carried over to a future meeting.

Write up and distribute minutes within 3 or 4 days. Quick action reinforces importance of  meeting and reduces error of memory.

Reasons for Objecting to Minutes

  • Outright mistakes in reporting.
  • Correct but unkind or untactful reporting.
  • Unnecessary reporting.  This is the most usual problem for the amateur recorder who thinks they should cover every detail and finds everyone objecting, not over the conclusions but over the reasons given for the conclusions.
  • Black-and-white reporting of matters that should have been a shade of gray. This is a problem for an overenthusiastic recorder who hates to admit that some things were not definitively settled in the meeting. Thus their minutes generate complaints from those who didn’t see any black-and-white action but recall the unfinished debate and unresolved issues. 


As compiled by Rae A. Stonehouse

Rae Stonehouse

Author Bio:

Rae A. Stonehouse is a Canadian born author & speaker. His professional career as a Registered Nurse working predominantly in psychiatry/mental health, has spanned four decades.

Rae has embraced the principal of CANI (Constant and Never-ending Improvement) as promoted by thought leaders such as Tony Robbins and brings that philosophy to each of his publications and presentations.

Rae has dedicated the latter segment of his journey through life to overcoming his personal inhibitions. As a 27+ year member of Toastmasters International he has systematically built his self-confidence and communicating ability. He is passionate about sharing his lessons with his readers and listeners. His publications thus far are of the personal/professional self-help, self-improvement genre and systematically offer valuable sage advice on a specific topic.

His writing style can be described as being conversational. As an author Rae strives to have a one-to-one conversation with each of his readers, very much like having your own personal self-development coach. Rae is known for having a wry sense of humour that features in his publications.


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The above document may be freely copied and distributed as long as the author’s name and contact info remain attached.


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