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How to Create the Perfect Meeting Agenda

A Question-Based Approach

By having a question-based approach as opposed to topics, participants begin to think and act differently, marching towards the true intent of the being together, with intention.

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    How to Create the Perfect Meeting Agenda

    How to Create the Perfect Meeting Agenda




    Key Ideas

    The Meeting Agenda

    Normally managers put an emphasis on having a written meeting agenda prior to a meeting.

    Research shows that having an agenda is of no relevance, and what's important is how the leader facilitates the discussion of the agenda. Instead of reading like a to-do list, a meeting agenda can have questions that can move forward a productive discussion.

    A Question-Based Approach

    By having a question-based approach as opposed to topics, participants begin to think and act differently, marching towards the true intent of the being together, with intention.

      Specific and Challenging Questions

      Agenda questions can be molded to be like goals for the employees, to get them on their feet, energizing them and focusing their attention.

      Group goals promote group performance, and specific goals are much better than vague goals. The meeting questions, formed as goals, need to be challenging but not outlandish.

      Identify The Right Questions

      Instead of having too many questions, the meeting leader can first float a few questions and ask for the attendees' input. This ensures collaboration and makes attendees feel listened to, making them more engaged in the meeting.

      After their input, each question is then scrutinized and ones that don't fit are dropped if necessary. The final list would then have questions that are relevant and of strategic importance.

      Prioritizing Questions

      The questions on top of the list receive a disproportionate amount of attention and time. The key questions, which are a high priority need to be at the top.

      One can also make the attendees who own the question speak it out in the meeting themselves, demonstrating ownership and inclusion.

      Execution of The Agenda

      Once the set of questions are finalized, the meeting leader can distribute the agenda in advance, a few days in advance. There are many approaches to execute the question-based meeting, some of them are:

      • Brainstorming.
      • Voting Apps.
      • Pairing attendees for an agenda point.
      • Role-playing.
      • Deliberation and Decision.

      A question-based approach to agendas brings focus, engagement and better performance to meetings.


      Must-have questions for 1:1 meetings
      1. How’s life? - Helps with building trust.
      2. What are you worried about right now?  
      3. What rumors are you hearing that you think I should know about? ...
      Be selective

      When you start on a project, make sure it is something you are passionate about and you want to see through.

      If you aren’t sure that this is something you really want to do, try it out on a s...

      Estimate the resources you need

      It doesn’t have to be exhaustive. Just a quick outline will help. The point is to have something that guides you.

      Do a quick plan on how much time and effort this idea will take, so you can have a bird’s eye view.

      Budget your time and energy

      Good planning of resources help you plan out your energy and expectations. 

      So plan out your time and resources accordingly and integrate them into your schedule/to-do list. Block out time in your calendar for the project. Give yourself some buffer as well, in case of contingencies.

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      Negative People

      Negative people want to bring you down. They rarely contribute, cannot accept you, and consistently work to hurt, belittle or suck away your motivation.

      Regardless of your accomplishme...

      Negative News

      Negative news will slowly bring you down, eventually draining your energy and leaving you unmotivated.

      Try to keep your distance from people who complain a lot and from media that promotes negative news.

      Fear Of Failure

      Many see failure as proof that our effort meant nothing. But failure is a feedback system and gives you the opportunity to fix things, reflect, and grow for the next time.

      When you fail, take a step back, look at the events that led to it, try to find the lesson in the failure and act upon it.

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      Why virtual meetings go bad
      • Attendees often multi-task and don't pay attention to the discussion.
      • Meeting organizers tend to be less careful with the purpose and design of the conversation.
      • Usual...
      Run great virtual meetings
      • Use video, but also provide an audio dial-in-option,
      • Test the equipment you are going to use before the meeting.
      • Make sure people can see each other properly.
      • Set an agenda, set some rules and clearly outline the next steps.
      • Make sure presentations take very little time.
      • Set a facilitator and call on people individually to speak.
      • Capture feedback in real-time and tackle difficult issues.
      Identify your passion

      Everyday leadership begins with a passion and a mission. Ask yourself: “What am I passionate about? How can I turn that passion into a mission?”

      Once you identify your pass...


      Try listening more than you speak. Listen to experts and fellow enthusiasts, including those with whom you disagree. Absorb their perspectives, insights, and experiences.

      From listening to others, we can gather valuable insights from both their successes and their failings.

      You have a voice. Share it

      But remember that using your voice as an everyday leader comes with a responsibility.

      When sharing your opinion—in-person or via social media—be clear, be concise, and be constructive. That is the best way to be heard.

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      1:1 meetings
      1:1 meetings

      1:1 meetings matter. It is important to nurture that essential employee-manager relationship. But it still not easy to get right.

      Under pressures, managers are still juggl...

      1:1 category

      The goal of an effective 1:1 is not an update from your direct report or for you to lay down some instructions. It's a conversation. It's a chance to hear about your direct reports' ideas for your product, their career goals, and possibly their opinion of their performance.

      Keep a list of three potential topics ready for discussion. When they say they have nothing to discuss, you can jumpstart the conversation with one of your items.

      Manager's best tool

      Your most precious resource is your own time and energy. When you spend it on your team, it helps build healthy relationships.

      Your job as a manager isn't to give advice or 'save the day.'' It's to empower your reports to find the answer themselves. If you want to understand what's going on, ask. Let her lead the conversation while you listen and probe.

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      Why 1:1’s are important
      • Making time for an individual says you give a damn about them as a person.
      • The 1:1 is the only forum where you can have an honest, private, conversation with each other a...
      Set expectations
      • If this is a new process you are putting in place at your company/in your team, be transparent about it.
      • Be clear that you do this with all employees who work directly for you.
      • Book a regular cadence of 1:1s. They should not be ad-hoc. It’s ok to skip one every once and awhile, but having it locked into the calendar is a commitment.
      • Decide the best cadence with them (weekly or every other week? 30 minutes or an hour?) and what the format should be.
      The agenda
      • Topics in a 1:1 should be about professional growth, personal connection and for giving each other feedback. Do not use the meeting to re-hash things from a group meeting, unless there are specific things you took off-line in that meeting or need to provide/get constructive feedback.
      • 24 hours or so before the meeting, email the employee a list of what you’d like to cover. Try to do a split between strategic, tactical and personal items and always ask your employee what they want to cover too. 

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      The first 5-7 minutes of a meeting

      ....is the most important component for conducting more effective meetings.

      It establishes the parameters, organizes the terms of reference and tells everybody in the room w...

      Begin right on time

      During a meeting, do not penalize the people who were there on time by waiting for others who are late. 

      Assume that the latecomer is not coming at all and get right on with the meeting.  

      Encouraging open discussions
      Leaders should take up the role of facilitators and avoid dominating the discussions.

      During meetings, it’s very important to get input from everybody, not only from those eager to contribute but even from those who are shyer and less likely to speak up.  

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      Where you see yourself in 5 years
      Where you see yourself in 5 years

      A regular job-interviewing question is where you see yourself in 5 years.

      The purpose of this question is to see if you would like to stay at the company for many years. Bringing on new emp...

      Too Much Focus on the Future

      The "Where do you see yourself in 5 years" question is about the interviewer wanting to see if you can draw a straight line from the future back to the present. A two-part answer works well.

      • " I want this particular job..." reinforces your desire for the position.
      • In part two, explain your future plans "... because it will help ..."
      What Career Path the Company Offers

      You should answer the question honestly, but your answer should also reflect the research you put into the company.

      Find out what training programs are offered through the firm while holding down your full-time job. Mention your goal to grow your skills, and you'll impress your interviewer with your future-focused desires.

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      Focus on your camera

      Practice looking into your camera during video conferences when you speak, even for brief moments.
      It's challenging to focus on your camera for an entire meeting, but know that you increase the ...

      Maintain a strong voice

      Strong voices convey authority, credibility, and confidence.
      Using a loud voice will also keep you from mumbling and from speaking too quickly due to the amount of breath required.

      Frame yourself in the right way

      Make sure you have time before the meeting to pick your location and put your head fully in frame.
      In a video conference, your head and the top of your shoulders should dominate the screen. Also, be mindful of your background. Distracting elements will pull attention away from you.

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