Years ago, a seasoned professional and client at the time gave me some simple advice. He said, “Never go into a meeting without an agenda. If you only have three minutes with someone be sure you are prepared with an agenda. You will show you are serious and you respect their time.” Although simple advice, it has paid huge dividends in the progress and growth of my marketing and communications firm.
The agenda, a simple tool, that puts any meeting in perspective. It focuses the discussion on the important objectives and is an effective tool to keep the business meeting on track. It has served me and my colleagues well and has prevented us from missing important issues to discuss. It has also allowed us to say “We are now out of time allowed for this meeting. Should we go on or hold our other items till later?”
The Business Agenda
While the “business” agenda, as I call it, is different than a formal board-of-directors agenda, which includes: approval of minutes, finance reports, and voting on motions, the business agenda does have many similarities.
The business agenda serves as a reminder of key items that need decisions made either yes or no. The business agenda can address “old business” that has not been resolved and provide an avenue for addressing new concerns.
What if it isn’t your meeting?
I take the liberty of jotting down key items to be discussed and bring it to the meeting. It keeps me focused on why we are in the meeting in the first place. Sometimes I am asked to share, sometimes not – but others notice that I came prepared with thoughts of my own.
Agendas provide a case history
Ok, this might sound crazy and a bit OCD but I have agendas for clients going back several years. Why? When I have a question about a past marketing campaign or when a client asks a question about a project I can quickly review my notes and agendas to see when those were discussed and what decision was made. And let’s be clear, no decision is a decision! The agenda provides a reference and a reminder that historical data has value.
The simple agenda is contagious! And soon you will find that clients readily see the value and come to expect the prepared agenda at every client/marketer meeting.
So… you may be faced with a meeting in two hours or two days from now. Don’t forget the agenda. Write it, write it today, write it tomorrow. Become the agenda creator. You just might be the only person in the room who is prepared.
Gina Manlove, Executive VP, JMMC, President of the Board, Pasadena Health Center