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    If you don’t know where to begin in a meeting, let this secret be your starting point – Secret #8: The Secret of Standard Agendas. After all, it is the New Year and all about beginnings. Agenda setting will not only steer the course of your meeting – it will also provide your beginning.

    Using Standard Agendas

    You all remember the 5 Ps, right? In a meeting, the agenda, or process, must be designed to achieve the purpose and must take into account the other three Ps – the product, participants, and probable issues.

    For example, if the team’s purpose in a meeting is to streamline the hiring process, you might use a “process improvement” agenda. If the product you are trying to create is a plan for a program, you might use a “project planning” agenda. If the key to the session is to resolve a particular issue, you might use an “issue resolution” agenda. Each of these agendas is different because the purpose and products are different.

    Secret #8 – The Secret of Standard Agendas

    Standard agendas create the starting point.

    Maintain a set of standard agendas you can use as a starting point for addressing the specific needs of a meeting. The purpose and desired products of the meeting determine which standard agenda is best used as a starting point.

    To maximize their effectiveness, Smart Facilitators draw from a set of standard agendas that they can customize for a specific situation. Standard agendas have several advantages:

    • They reduce the amount of time needed to prepare for a session by giving you a starting point.
    • They help ensure that you do not miss a critical step.
    • They provide a level of consistency from one assignment to another and from one facilitator to another.

    Below, I’ve identified several standard agenda types commonly used:

    Agenda Purpose Key Activities / Products
    Conference Facilitation
    Have conference attendees understand a topic and identify actions to take collectively and individually to address it Current SituationPast Successes and Challenges

    Potential Solutions

    Collective/Individual Action

    Next Steps

    Reach consensus on an approach to address a specific issue Delineation of AlternativesStrengths and Weaknesses

    Selection of Alternative

    Process Improvement
    Define the changes necessary to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of a business process Current ProcessProblems and Root Causes


    Implementation Plan

    Develop a detailed plan for implementing a project or program Purpose and ObjectivesScope and Deliverables

    Approach and Budget

    Action List

    Strategic Planning
    Develop a shared vision and document the steps to achieve that vision Current AssessmentVision and Mission

    Guiding Principles

    Goals and Objectives

    Strategies and Priorities

    Improve the ability of a team to work together What Makes Team Workers Team Vision and Barriers

    Strategies to Achieve Our Vision Monitoring and Accountability

    For the easy extra step, use our models for these agenda types so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Our Facilitator Guides can help you:

    Happy New Year!


    For more resources, see the Library topic Facilitation.


    Michael Wilkinson is the CEO and Managing Director of Leadership Strategies, Inc., The Facilitation Company, and author of the brand new The Secrets of Facilitation 2nd Edition, The Secrets to Masterful Meetings, and The Executive Guide to Facilitating Strategy. Leadership Strategies is a global leader in facilitation services, providing companies with dynamic professional facilitators who lead executive teams and task forces in areas like strategic planning, issue resolution, process improvement, and others. They are also a leading provider of facilitation training in the United States.