The secret to online meeting agendas that don’t miss the point

Online meetings are a great place to gather your team together, set goals and celebrate success. But a meeting without focus, structure or outcome can lead to a team that’s demotivated and unproductive. 

Here’s how to write an agenda for an online meeting that will galvanise your team and most importantly, get things done. 

A recent survey of 2000 remote workers found that a staggering three quarters of us believe that online meetings are a waste of time, with over a third admitting that we’ve excused ourselves from online meetings we’ve got bored of. 

And with the majority of us in at least four online meetings a day, the list of pet peeves is a long one, from meetings that are overlong, too frequent, too unstructured, not productive, not actionable or just plain boring.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. Tight, focused online meetings that share relevant information and set goals with a clear ‘to do list’ at the end can help the team feel involved and energised, even if they’re not yet meeting in real life. 

Here are our 9 tips to take your meeting from frustrating to fantastic.

1. Identify your meeting goal before you start 

Sounds obvious, but we’ve all been in meetings that feel just a little..well…pointless. Taking a few minutes before you start writing your agenda thinking about exactly what you want to get out of your meeting will be time very well spent. 

2. Use a meeting template

Your meetings may be unique to you, but if you’re feeling uninspired there are some great meeting templates out there that will help with the basic format. Connect4 also has templated agendas to set you up for your client meeting, team catch-up or 1-2-1. 

3. Allow for an early icebreaker 

Online meetings are great for extroverts, meaning the quieter members of the team can sometimes feel left out. Make sure everyone feels they can contribute with a short icebreaker at the start to get things moving. Our advice is to keep it short; even a quick anagram game or sharing a word that sums up your day so far will get people relaxed and engaged. 

4. Create your agenda as questions to be addressed rather than a ‘to-do’ list

Reframing your agenda items from topics to questions will give your agenda more momentum, make it more specific and will lead to more actionable goals. So consider rephrasing ‘team updates’, as ‘what information do you have to share or need from each other?’

5. Share files before the meeting and ask your team to come prepped

How many times have meetings been delayed as attendees search their inbox for key information? Share all relevant docs a few days before and ask your team to come to the meeting prepared. Or even better, store everything you’ll need in your Connect4 pod. 

6. Put a time against each agenda item

Meetings have a tendency to fill the time available, so make each minute count by assigning a time slot for each item.  And remember, shorter meetings tend to be more effective and your employees, some of whom may be juggling childcare or other responsibilities, will be grateful for a short and focused meeting. 

7. Assign a note taker

Ever been in a meeting where everyone takes notes yet there’s no clear agreed plan at the end? Yes, us too. But by randomly selecting a note taker at the start you’ll make sure that all actions are captured, meaning attendees can focus on the meeting rather than scribbling down notes.

8. Have the agenda visible throughout the meeting

Meetings can easily get derailed if your team members aren’t all literally on the same page. Making sure your agenda is visible during the meeting keeps everyone’s attention and things moving forward.

9. Summarise, summarise, summarise

If you’ve ever wasted ten minutes at the start of a meeting looking for the decisions taken at the last one, then this one’s for you. A crisp summary at the end of the meeting with a plan and actionable tasks with deadlines will save you time and headaches, meaning each future meeting starts off on the front foot. Connect4 lets you record a short video summary at the end of each meeting, meaning all key decisions are captured. 

Finally, think about whether you really need a meeting. If it’s just a catch up, consider an alternative format, leaving valuable meeting time to plan, make decisions and assign outcomes. 

And if you’re thinking of your meetings as a social occasion or for team bonding – don’t. This needs proper time set aside when people are more relaxed, can share some non-work chat and have those ‘water cooler moments’.

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Kate Brewin

Kate helps ambitious start-ups translate their great ideas into a smart proposition and social strategy that gets results. In her spare time she likes exploring the beautiful countryside around Cambridge.

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