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Meeting Agenda

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Organizing meetings basically involves three steps:
• Preparing Notice-to inform the participants about the title,purpose,date, time,venue etc purpose of the meeting. • Enlisting Agenda-to inform and guide the participants about what issues are going to be brought under discussion in the meeting • Writing Minutes – to note down all the important discussion points, descions, and conclusions drawn in the meeting. Preparing Notice:

The first and foremost task in organizing meetings is to prepare a notice for informing the participants about the details.i.e. Title, purpose, date, time, venue etc purpose of the meeting. Notice

“To discuss the Issue of Computer Labs Head of computer science department has called a meeting on Friday 15 June, 2012 in university Auditorium at 10.00 am. All faculty is informed to attend the meeting”

Creating a Meeting Agenda:

Meetings set aside time to brainstorm ideas, relay important information, solve problems and plan projects. A meeting must be well-planned to make this time productive. An agenda provides an outline of the intent of the meeting and the items that need to be discussed. A meeting agenda can be distributed ahead of time to allow attendees to prepare questions and input. An effective agenda can be designed in a few simple steps

The meeting agenda is a roadmap for the meeting. It lets participants know where they’re headed so they don’t get off track. Most importantly, the meeting agenda gives a sense of purpose and direction to the meeting. When attempting to hold a productive meeting, the most important thing you can do is to create an agenda. This should be sent to all attendees well in advance to give everyone time to examine the topics and prepare what they need to say. Agendas highlight the purpose of the meeting and the decisions that need to be made. Without an agenda meetings lack focus and decisions will not be made since attendees will go off on tangents and fail to understand what needs to be achieved. I should be clear at this point that there is nothing wrong with a brainstorming session where an agenda would not be required, but for more formal meetings with specific questions, problems and issues that need attention and solution, an agenda should always be given.

When setting the items of the agenda it is best to formally request content from the attendees. This will give people a chance to add anything they feel is important. You must give people time to reply so do this step as early as possible. A simple email will suffice. It is worth writing the agenda first and sending this out with the request since it will give people a better idea of the subject matter and appropriateness of their meeting topics. Of course there will be an ‘any other business’ section at the end of the meeting, but as many topics as possible should be set in the agenda so that a timescale can be more accurately estimated. If there are fourteen topics at the end of a meeting that only lasts for an hour because you didn’t know about them in advance, then this is likely to be rushed and not explored fully or the meeting will overrun.

Every meeting agenda should contain a certain amount of general information in the heading section. This needs to be information on the meeting parameters rather than its content. For example note the date, the start time, the end time and the location. If this is sent in advance then it will be clear to everyone when and where the meeting will be held. It is a good idea to set any specific aims in this section. Say for example you are holding the meeting to decide upon the strategy needed for an office move. This should be noted at the top so all parties are aware of the topic. This should stop people trying to sneak inappropriate agenda items on such as the new CRM system requirements.

It is usual to have a section for attendees so that everyone knows who will be coming. This will also allow them to suggest anyone else they feel should be present that you have not included. This can be a simple list. If anyone is required to bring specific items to the meeting other than a notepad and pen then fair warning should be given. If you needed a specific maths problems solved and had neglected to tell people to bring their calculators then you would be at a serious disadvantageous when nobody has one. Time would be wasted while they all went back to their desks to fetch them.

Once this general information is listed, it is time to add the agenda topics. The first section is ‘apologies for absence’ since there may be people who cannot make it on the day. This section is required for the minute taker to note the actual attendees. Some meetings are held on a regular basis such as weekly planning meetings and project meetings. If this is the case then a section must be included called ‘minutes of the last meeting.’ This section will go over the actions resulting from the last meeting and follow them up. If they have been completed then they can be crossed of everyone’s list and if they have not, then the action would still stand and may need to be discussed further.

The next agenda items will be specific to the topic of your meeting. Using the example of an office move, agenda items may be as follows; purpose of the move, location of the new building, responsibility for the move itself, informing the staff, marketing the move to clients and contacts and finally the responsibility for health and safety once the move is completed. Obviously this is a vastly simplified list, but hopefully it gives an idea of how to set relevant agenda points. All items must solve one issue and should add something to the overall solution required. The items should flow in a logical order and be related to each other. Think about what needs to be completed first before something else can be done. What are the dependencies? The office move cannot be marketed to clients before it has happened so this will logically be further down the list than items about the move itself.

Once all relevant items are on the agenda there should be a section called ‘Any other business.’ This will allow any last minute things to be discussed. Hopefully, if you have completed an agenda well, this section will be blissfully short since everything will be covered on the agenda points already set. Do not allow people to distract everyone from the main aim of the meeting. If people want to discuss unrelated items then suggest they email or set up a separate meeting.

The agenda will be in a different format and will include different things depending on the type of meeting and who will be in attendance. An all-day meeting in which people from outside the company or members of the public will attend may well need to include agenda points in a more specific time format. Agenda points may include introduction, tea and coffee break, lunch etc. whereas a general office meeting would often be too short and therefore exclude these items. The language you use would need to be simple and contain no industry abbreviation that people outside the area of expertise would not understand. As the presenter of the meeting, think about what people need to see in advance to get a good idea of what will happen during the meeting.

Provide all participants with an agenda before the meeting starts. Your agenda needs to include a brief description of the meeting objectives, a list of the topics to be covered and a list stating who will address each topic and for how long. When you send the agenda, you should include the time, date and location of the meeting and any background information participants will need to know to hold an informed discussion on the meeting topic. What’s the most important thing you should do with your agenda? Follow it closely!All agendas should list the following: • Meeting start time

• Meeting end time
• Meeting location
• Topic headings
• Include some topic detail for each heading
• Indicate the time each topic is expected to last
• Indicate which meeting participants are expected to be the main topic participants

Minutes of Meeting
Minutes are the official record of an organization. It is crucial that they are accurate since they are the legal record of the proceedings and actions of the organization Minutes are written as an accurate record of a group’s meetings, and a record decisions taken. They are useful because people can forget what was decided at a meeting if there is no written record of the proceedings. Minutes can also inform people who were not at the meeting about what took place.

Who writes the minutes?

It is normal practice for one person at each meeting to be given the task of writing the minutes. It may be the same person each meeting, or the task may be rotated.

What do the minutes contain?

Before each meeting an agenda should be drawn up, detailing the matters to be discussed at the meeting. A set of minutes should normally include the following information: • time, date and place of meeting;

• list of people attending;
• list of absent members of the group;
• approval of the previous meeting’s minutes, and any matters arising from those minutes;
• for each item in the agenda, a record of the principal points discussed and decisions taken;
• time, date and place of next meeting;

• name of person taking the minutes.


Distribute (by email) the agenda before the meeting, so that members of the group have a chance to prepare for the meeting.

Include an item “AOB” (Any Other Business) at the end of the agenda as a place to include last-minute items.

Keep the minutes short and to the point. Don’t waffle. If you want to record every word said, you might consider a tape recording to supplement the minutes.

Where a member of the group is asked to perform a set task, record an “Action” point; this makes it easy to read through the minutes at the next meeting and “tick off” the action points.

Either write the minutes as the meeting happens (if the minutes secretary is a fast typist!), or immediately after the meeting. The sooner they are done, the more accurate they are.

Meeting Minutes
Meeting minutes sometimes seem to have become a “lost art”. I mean, they are not rocket science, rather a bit dumb. Let me therefore share with you the in my opinion essential points.

• If you want to follow only one advice, here it is: Write in a way that allows someone who has not attended the meeting to understand the minutes. This especially means that you must very carefully set the context for each topic. You get two things from that additional effort. Firstly, someone who has not attended the meeting will understand your minutes (surprise, surprise). Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, YOU will be able to understand your minutes in a few weeks. Chances are that you would not do so without setting context etc. • There is no such thing as a meeting without minutes. Depending on the type of the meeting you can decide to just write a short email that sums things up. But something should be written! This is the only way to ensure that people have a common understanding what has been discussed and decided. • Use a template, and please let it be the same template every time. It does not need to be extremely sophisticated but should support ease of reading. That means the reader should be supported in absorbing the content. • Each entry is clearly marked as a certain type. Usually you find: decision, information, action item.

Add others as you need them (sometimes “status” is a different category). • Please only one (1) owner per action item. This person is responsible that the job gets done. This does NOT mean this person always has to do it in person (this is only one of several possibilities). He or she can also delegate it, do it together with someone else, etc. But he or she is responsible towards the meeting that the work is finished by the assigned due date. • Each action item also has a due date. There must never-ever be an action item without a due date. Period. This due date does NOT get adjusted when it is missed. Otherwise the pressure to work hard will be lowered (you don’t want that, do you?). • You should document who attended the meeting and who got informed about the outcome. So please put a list of attendees (also partial attendance, to be documented as such, counts) and a list of recipients into your document. So nothing complicated here, right? One last word in terms of effort. Writing good meeting minutes takes time. Unless you are extremely fast, you can expect that the writing will sometimes take as long as the actual meeting. But this is normally time well spent. Especially if you are working for a client on a consulting project, you should be careful to document what was said.

So what should you do with those meeting minutes once you have finished writing them? Here is my take on it:

• Send them to the participants and ask them to check carefully • Depending on when the next meeting occurs, people must either provide their feedback within a certain timeframe (I suggest 2-3 working days) or at the next meeting. • If nothing has been brought forward within the agreed timeframe, the minutes are considered to be signed off. This is critical for projects with external customers, but also good practice internally. CONTENT

First paragraph: Kind of meeting (regular, special, etc.); the name of the organization; the date, time and place of the meeting; the name of the presiding officer and secretary; approximate number of members present; establishment of a quorum; and recording of the action taken on the minutes of the previous meeting. The body should include, with each motion being a separate paragraph,: • The exact wording of motions, whether passed or failed, and the way they were disposed of, along with the name of the maker • If the vote was counted, the count should be recorded. Tellers reports, if there are any, are included. In roll call votes the record of each person’s vote is included • Notices of motions – previous notice is sometimes required e.g. amendments of the bylaws • Points of order and appeal

• What we decided in the meeting
• What we accomplished in the meeting
• What we agreed to in terms of next steps (action items)

To avoid wasting your time spent in meetings, be sure your notes and minutes answer these 10 questions:

1. When was the meeting?
2. Who attended?
3. Who did not attend? (Include this information if it matters.)
4. What topics were discussed?
5. What was decided?
6. What actions were agreed upon?
7. Who is to complete the actions, by when?
8. Were materials distributed at the meeting? If so, are copies or a link available? 9. Is there anything special the reader of the minutes should know or do? 10. Is a follow-up meeting scheduled? If so, when? where? why?

Minutes need headings so that readers can skim for the information they need. Your template may include these:

Actions Agreed Upon
Person responsible
Next Meeting
Date and Time
Agenda itemsDo’s and Don’ts:

Do write minutes soon after the meeting–preferably within 48 hours. That way, those who attended can be reminded of action items, and those who did not attend will promptly know what happened.

Don’t skip writing minutes just because everyone attendedthe meeting and knows what happened. Meeting notes serve as a record of the meeting long after people forget what happened.

Don’t describe all the “he said, she said” details unless those details are very important. Record topics discussed, decisions made, and action items.

Don’t include any information that will embarrass anyone(for example, “Then Terry left the room in tears”).

Do use positive language. Rather than describing the discussion as heated or angry, use passionate, lively, orenergetic–all of which are just as true as the negative words.

Do have a new year filled with productive meetingscaptured efficiently in crisp, clear meeting notes!

• The opinion or interpretation of the secretary
• Judgmental phrases e.g. “heated debate” “valuable comment”
• Discussion: Minutes are a record of what was done at the meeting, not what was said at the meeting
• Motions that were withdrawn

• Name of seconder is unnecessary
If the minutes have been distributed to the members before the next meeting then the approval process can be very short. The presiding officer simply states “Are there any corrections to the minutes as printed?” If there are none, or after all corrections have been made, the presiding officer may say “If there is no objection, the minutes will be approved as printed (or as corrected).” SIGNATURE

After the minutes have been corrected and approved by the membership, they should be signed by the secretary and can be signed by the president. The word “approved” and the date of the approval should also be included MINUTES BOOK

The official copy of the minutes should be entered in the Minutes Book and kept by the secretary. These are the property of the organization, not the secretary. If the organization has a headquarters office, the official copy of the minutes should be kept there. COPIES

If the members receive a copy of the minutes it is not necessary for them to receive all the attachments. When they do not receive the attachments, the minutes should include a brief summary of the attachments. ANNUAL MEETINGS/CONVENTION MINUTES

Minutes of an annual meeting or convention should be taken by the secretary with the assistance of the Minutes Approval Committee members. In advance of the annual meeting or convention, the secretary should prepare a set of skeleton minutes. In the preparation of this skeleton of the actual minutes the following may be used: agenda, program, previous minutes (as a guide) and the script. The skeleton minutes are based on what is expected to happen (the script should be of great assistance here). In preparing the skeleton minutes, be sure to leave many empty spaces for the specifics that may happen during the meeting and any last minute changes. Copies of the skeletal minutes are needed for the secretary, parliamentarian and members of the Minutes Approval Committee.

During the meeting, the members of the committee and the secretary follow the skeletal minutes and fill in any additional information. Immediately after each business meeting the committee and the secretary meet and work together on an agreed upon set of minutes for that meeting. After the last business meeting of the convention, the secretary prepares the final copy of the minutes based upon what is agreed upon by the committee. This final copy is reviewed by all committee members. When they all agree, they sign the original copy and the job of approving the minutes is completed. If there is a transcript of the meeting, it is the secretary’s job to review the transcript making sure all the minutes are accurate. If it is necessary to change the minutes, all members of the Minutes Approval Committee must agree upon the changes.

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