Posted by: wordsmithsuk | February 17, 2014

Minute writing: Creating and using an agenda

The agenda is an important tool for everyone involved in the meeting. It enables people to prepare agenda-279x300for the meeting and ensures that all the important points are dealt with effectively. The agenda also makes everyone aware of the order in which items are to be discussed, and makes it easier for the chair to control participants’ deliberations. Finally, the agenda will help you to structure the minutes, as the minutes will follow the pattern of the agenda and use the same headings.

What does an agenda include?

The agenda usually includes the name of the meeting (or group that is to meet), the date and place of the meeting and a list of the agenda items, detailing the matters to be discussed. A basic agenda would look like this.

Name of the group
Date and place of meeting


  1. Committee business
  2. Minutes of last meeting
  3. Matters arising
  4. Agenda item 1
  5. Agenda item 2 (etc)
  6. Any other business
  7. Date of next meeting.

An objectives agenda

Having an objectives agenda makes it easier for you and others to prepare for the meeting. This type of agenda also ensures that the group’s discussions are focused on outcomes and that your minutes cover the essential points.

To turn a normal agenda into an objectives agenda, simply take each agenda item and break it down into one or more objectives. You will need to agree the objectives with the meeting chair and maybe also with key contributors.

A normal agenda might look like this:

  1. Minutes of previous meeting
  2. Matters arising
  3. Reports
  4. New restaurant
  5. Proposal to relocate post room
  6. Car parking spaces update.

Here are the same items presented as an objectives agenda:

1. Minutes of previous meeting
     1.1 To approve or amend the minutes of meeting held 22 October 2011
 2. Matters arising
     2.1 To hear any matters arising from the previous meeting
3. Reports
     3.1 To receive presentations from potential catering suppliers
4.  New restaurant
        4.1 To agree seating for new restaurant
       4.2 To agree how the staggered dining times will work in practice
       4.3 To decide how visitor etiquette will work – dining cards, reserved seating, hosting
       4.4 To agree who should decide menu choices 
5. Proposal to relocate post room
     5.1  To discuss relocation of post room in the light of reduced roadway access
6.  Car parking spaces update.
       6.1  To seek ideas on reduced parking spaces after appeal rejected

It is easy to see how such an agenda would make your job much easier. All notes on discussions, decisions and actions can be based around the objectives of the agenda rather than simply on the non-specific agenda items themselves.

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss any aspect of minute writing or report writing. And 9780954886035don’t forget to check our popular audio resource Effective Business Writing for Success


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