Planning a meeting agenda

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Plan turbo brainstorming sessions to achieve objectives

Planning your brainstorming sessions improves the results from the sessions. Meetings consume considerable resources. Poorly planned meetings waste your project team's time and reduce their energy levels. Send one hour planning each one-half day meeting. Involve the meeting sponsor and other key people in planning the agenda.

Planning meeting agenda's one of the key ingredients to Turbo Brainstorming. Things move really quickly so you need a agenda even though you may not follow it completely. No planning or meeting goes according to plan but the plan provides a foundation to stay organized and adapt quickly to changing requirements.

Metric: Spend about an hour planning for each three hours of brainstorming.

  1. Create a flipchart to brainstorm objectives of the meeting.
  2. Brainstorm topics to be covered to achieve the objectives
  3. Identify participants to be involved.
1. Objectives of the meeting   2. Topics to be covered in the meeting   3. Participants to participate in the meeting.

Output is the meeting agenda. Post a flipchart for each day in the meeting. A three day strategic planning session would require six flipcharts. Transfer topics to the appropriate day. It takes ten to forty minutes to brainstorm each topic depending upon the complexity of the topic.

Create post-it notes for each cell in the table to allow you to alter the agenda easily. Decide where its appropriate to tackle each topic. Put important topics early in each day. Allocate time to each topic.

Agenda - one flipchart for each half day
Time Topics
Methods Resource
8:30 Present session objectives Presentation Sponsor
9:00 Brainstorm deliverables Brainstorming Facilitator & team
9:40 Brainstorm resources Brainstorming  Facilitator & team
10:00 Coffee
  Facilitator & team
10:10  Organize tasks Facilitator & team
10:40 Assign resources to tasks Facilitator & team
11:20 Validate plan
Facilitator & team
11:40 Action Items Brainstorming Facilitator & team
12 noon Finish

Planning multi-day sessions

For meetings over one half day, create a flipchart for each half day. All the cells on the flipchart are Post-it notes for easy reorganization. This format really allows people to see what will be covered in the meeting and to suggest improvements.

Some times of the day are better than others for heavy duty tasks. Make sure important topics are tackled at the beginning of the day.

For a three-day Strategic planning session you would have six flipcharts
Day 1 morning
9amKickoff topicBrainstormFacilitator
10amCoffeeMix and mingle. Everyone
10:15amTeam objectivesBrainstormFacilitator
11:00am BrainstormFacilitator
11:45amAction Items for afternoonReview agendaSponsor
Day 1 afternoon
1pmRisks and ChallengesBrainstormFacilitator
1:45pmRisk mitigation strategiesBrainstormFacilitator
2:30pmCoffeeMix and mingle. Everyone
3:45pmMystery TopicReview agendaSponsor
4:30pm Action Items for second dayBrainstormFacilitator

What is your strategy for lunch? What happens if a group goes out for lunch? Loss of productivity! Bringing lunch in provides for informal networking and discussion.

Tackle important topics in the morning when everyone is fresh. Think carefully about topics that you tackle right after lunch. To keep the team together during an all day session, consider bringing a light lunch in. Then you will be ready to start up on time.

Plan the second day of Project kickoff topic
Day 2 morning
9amKickoff topicBrainstormFacilitator
10amCoffeeMix and mingle. Everyone
10:15amAssembly sequenceBrainstormFacilitator
11:45amAction Items for afternoonReview agendaSponsor
Day 2 afternoon
1:45pmKickoff topicBrainstormingFacilitator
2:30pmCoffeeMix and mingle. Everyone
2:45pmX Sponsor
3:00pmStandards and guidelinesBrainstormFacilitator
3:45pmMystery topicReview agendaFacilitator
4:30Action Items for third  dayBrainstormFacilitator

Leave a mystery topic at the end of each day. You will know what that topic should be by the end of the day. This gives you some contingency if you over run your other topics.

For a multi-day meeting I have two or more scribes writing up the results after each topic. so that the minutes are being created and ready for the participants very quickly.

Day 3 morning
8:30amDefine work packagesPresentationSponsor
9amDefine roles and responsibilitiesBrainstormingFacilitator
10amCoffeeMix and mingle. Everyone
10:15amPlan team recruitmentBrainstormFacilitator
11:45amAction Items for afternoonReview agendaSponsor
Day 3 afternoon
1pm Develop action planBrainstormSponsor
1:45pm Assign resourcesBrainstormFacilitator
2:30pm   Everyone
2:45pmCoffeeMix and mingle.Sponsor
3:00pmOrganize reviewTeam planningSponsor
3:45pmExecutive ReviewReview agendaSponsor
4:30Action Items from kickoff session dayBrainstormFacilitator

Publish an agenda document containing a page per half day. Use this as a roadmap to keep the meeting organized and to respond to changes in requirements.