Agenda Planning Factors

by Tree Bressen

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First, some basic agenda planning principles:

  • Use meeting time efficiently by being in sync with natural urges and by planning well
  • Keep an ongoing agenda collection list
  • Rotate the agenda planner roles
  • Assist new members in learning how to use the system
  • Screen items to determine which things should be on for a particular meeting and in what order (see below)
  • Consult with the people involved in each item to ensure seasoning and preparedness
  • Turn in items by 1/4 ahead (e.g., a week ahead for a monthly meeting), and post agenda ahead of time
  • Approve agenda at start of meeting
  • When an item comes up in meeting that isn’t on the agenda, put it onto the ongoing agenda list unless the group agrees to change topics
  • Don’t go more than 90 minutes without a break

Here is a list of useful questions to ask as you consider what agenda items to include. This list is intended to be suggestive rather than exhaustive; you may come up with other questions for your group.

WHO will be present:

  • to sponsor or present an item?
  • to participate in making the decision?
  • to facilitate the meeting?


  • How long has an item been waiting?
  • Are there deadlines for action?
  • Where are people at with this issue, are they ready for it?
  • What else is going on for individuals and the group?
  • Find a balanced mixture of “light” and “heavy” items.
  • Consider the length of meeting.


  • What are the priority issues for the group right now?
  • Does this really need everyone’s time?
  • Should it be handled by a smaller group or a manager either before or instead of going to meeting?
  • Would it be addressed better by posting something in writing?


  • Is there research that needs to be done ahead of time?
  • Is there documentation that needs to be posted ahead of time?
  • Is the sponsor ready to present the item?

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