National Collegiate 4-H

Developing an Agenda

Well-planned agendas can be one of the most effective tools for increasing the productivity of an organization. Simply defined, an agenda is a listing of topics, issues, or problems which will be discussed at a meeting. The art of agenda development should be learned for five different reasons. 

  1. An agenda lets group members know what to expect from a meeting.
  2. The agenda announced in advance allows group members to prepare for the meeting.
  3. An agenda provides order for dealing with issues at a meeting.
  4. An agenda may be used to teach group members how to prepare reports for a meeting.
  5. An agenda spreads responsibility and increases ownership for accomplishing tasks and participating in meetings. 

There are basic methods you can use to put your agenda together. 

  1. The one-person approach (usually the leader) is most effective when the leader feels certain items must be covered–or if you’ve run out of time and the alternative is no agenda. 

  2. Written and verbal input may be received from others prior to the meeting. This process actively involves others and will depend on how formal or structured the meeting needs to be. 

  3. The Executive Committee may develop the agenda. This works well if information has
  4. been solicited by the Executive Committee from other members. 
  5. The entire group may develop the next agenda the last 5 or 10 minutes of the meeting. This is most effective with groups of 20 or less. 

There are five types of agenda formats. Effective leaders will use various combinations of these to meet the needs and goals of the group at different stages through the year. 

  1. Informal or Flexible Agenda-this may be most effective the first meeting of the year. The approach puts times in the order that people need to learn about the group (i.e. what to expect in meetings, review, job descriptions). These are flexible in that they will change depending on the needs of the group. 

  2. Prioritized Agenda-lists items to be discussed in order of importance. This allows the group to discuss the most important items early in the meeting when they feel fresh. Leaders should be cautious to know that their priorities may be different than those of the group. 

  3. Timed Agenda–adds a time limit to each item. 
  4. Descriptive Agenda–gives detail for each item to be covered. 
  5. Intervention Agenda–uses training, short lecture or workshop on how the group is interacting. This provides an opportunity for people to develop personally and vent emotions. 
  6. Agendas can make meetings more fun and efficient. Adding a sense of humor and changing the format will add variety to meetings, keep members enthused and the group productive. 

(From "Agenda Development" by Kathleen E. Allen)