Whether your company is a team of three or a large organization with dozens of staff, hosting annual planning meetings is essential for mapping out where your business is going, how it’ll get there, and what’s required of each department, team, and employee.
In a fast-moving professional environment, you need to make every minute of these meetings count.
Doing so requires you to follow a strategic meeting agenda that allows you to leave no stone unturned during the meeting time you have available.
We compiled a ten-point checklist for everything you’ll need to account for when creating your planning meeting agenda.
The first thing to consider when building your meeting agenda is how long the meeting will run.
Will it be a half-day, a full-day, or a multi-day meeting?
Understanding what you need to cover will allow you to budget this time accordingly.
Chit-chat and catch-up
Building time for casual conversation into your meeting agenda might seem counter intuitive, but it’s an incredibly effective way to pre-emptively mitigate a common meeting derailer.
This is especially true for remote or hybrid teams who see each other less frequently and will naturally want to catch up. And doing so helps reinforce positive team bonds which can actually benefit your business.
Allow people five to ten minutes to chat before your meeting kicks off.
Set aside a few minutes to introduce everyone in the meeting, if necessary. This is especially important for:
- Companies with newer employees
- Remote colleagues who may not know each other
- Large organizations with departments that may not interact directly very often
This allows you to ensure everyone feels more comfortable with one another and, in turn, can more easily contribute to the meeting.
Don’t assume everyone knows everything about what’s happening within your company.
While they may have a high-level understanding of what’s going on, the most impactful way of conducting an annual planning meeting is to make sure everyone’s on the same page from the get-go.
Plan to allow some time to dive into the granular details of what each individual, team, or department is doing and how it contributes to the overall goals and direction of the organization.
Purpose, key points, and goals
It’s helpful for your attendees to understand the trajectory of the planning meeting rather than blindly following along.
Allot some time to discuss the purpose of the meetings, the key points you’ll cover, and most importantly, the desired outcomes you want to achieve.
Meeting time is precious. And by taking the time to share this information in detail, you’ll be better able to steer the discussion back on track and make every meeting minute count if things begin to veer off course.
Finite timelines per topic
Equipped with an understanding of your goals and the key points you’ll be covering during the meeting, diligently assign finite timelines that will be spent on each topic.
During meetings, it can be easy to go down a rabbit hole, spend too much time on a single point, and wind up running out of time to cover everything you need to discuss in adequate depth.
Give this thorough consideration—some topics will require much more time than others. Then, bank out specific time windows for each.
This way, if the conversation begins to run long on a specific topic, you’ll be able to let people know you’re running out of time, ask them to save their questions and thoughts, and revisit them later on.
In the same way that it’s important to consider the total duration of your meeting, it’s also important to consider intervals for break times.
According to a 2020 study from Harvard Medical School, the average attention span is around 52 minutes.
Beyond that time, every minute spent in a meeting hypothetically falls victim to the law of diminishing returns—people are less and less dialed in as time goes by.
It’s wise to break up longer meetings into smaller, more digestible chunks, giving attendees the opportunity to regroup, recharge, and refocus before proceeding.
For full-day meetings, it’s also important to pencil in time for lunch. When people get hungry and their blood glucose levels drop, this can also create challenges with staying focused.
The main purpose of planning meetings is to map out your goals for the year, but they also serve as a valuable opportunity to get your team motivated to achieve the company’s goals.
You may want to consider scheduling time for speaking opportunities from executives to help people get inspired and excited for the year to come.
Time for Q&A
Every planning meeting should include time for a question-and-answer period to ensure everyone has a chance to clarify any points of confusion and fill in any gaps.
This gives your meeting attendees time to circle back on any points of discussion that might’ve been tabled to ensure your time parameters for each topic were met.
Recap and next steps
Never end a planning meeting without a thorough recap and a detailed plan of action. Account for enough time to ensure that each department, team, and employee walks away from your meeting with a clear understanding of what they need to do, how, and when.
Planning meetings are critical to the success of your organization, and every minute of these meetings counts. By creating a detailed and specific agenda, you can make sure you’re getting the most out of your time together and setting your employees—and organization—up for success.
The venue in which you host your meeting also has a big impact on its ability to engage your team. At iQ Offices, we offer fully-equipped meeting rooms that can accommodate teams of up to sixteen people and provide everything you need for a successful planning meeting—from enterprise-grade technology to snacks, refreshments, and trained on-site staff.
If you’re interested in booking a meeting room for your company’s next planning meeting, book a tour today.
Kane Willmott is the co-founder and CEO of iQ Offices, the largest independent Canadian-owned co-working operator with offices in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. iQ Offices provides beautiful office spaces with safety, service, privacy and design at the forefront.