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Any meeting, be it a team update, a stakeholder review or a full-fledged conference, needs a bit of planning and a good meeting schedule. How many times have you attended a meeting that went on for too long, got sidetracked, or ended without reaching a useful conclusion? How many times did you leave at the end of a meeting thinking “This could have been an email”?
With an effective meeting schedule template in place, the likelihood of this happening will be much smaller.
Designed correctly, a meeting agenda will play a critical role in the success of the session. Here’s why:
Whether you’re planning a short, one-hour team update or are looking for a conference schedule template for events that last multiple days, you can use these steps to create your meeting schedule:
Our free meeting schedule template was designed to assist you with the scheduling and organization of a meeting agenda or itinerary. The timeline template was built as a native PowerPoint slide, making it is easy to communicate your agenda to colleagues, team members, guests, presenters and other meeting participants.
The meeting agenda example was created as a visual timeline to provide business professionals and their audiences with a clear, easy-to-follow graphic of all the planned activities. The layout is well suited for visualizing meeting appointments that may have conflicts, or which may overlap with other scheduled events. This meeting calendar template was created to provide a high-level view of a multi-day conference but can be used for planning meetings that span less than a day or even less than an hour.
Creating a visual meeting timeline for client reviews, seminars, training sessions, conferences, workshops or other events can be time-consuming. Our free conference agenda template is a tool to help expedite the job of making a clear, accurate meeting chart in just a few clicks. You can download the template for free and manually edit it directly in PowerPoint, or you can customize and update it effortlessly with the Office Timeline meeting schedule maker. Office Timeline is a PowerPoint add-in that enables professionals to create beautiful timelines and other scheduling visuals instantly. You can use the free version to get started quickly or the more advanced Pro+ Edition to make powerful visuals that help your meetings stand out.
The meeting schedule template is easily customizable using the PowerPoint add-in’s visual drag & drop editor, so updating the timeline to accommodate any changes that occur over the course of planning a meeting – or even during the meeting - can be done surprisingly fast. Office Timeline allows you to immediately change the meeting calendar template as plans move or as the agenda shifts. It also integrates with Microsoft Excel, so any conference or meeting schedules created in Excel can be imported into PowerPoint and quickly updated with a click of a button when the Excel data changes.
Use this schedule template to create a high-level overview of your meeting agenda. It can be printed or emailed to the attendees and speakers of your meeting as a way to clearly set the daily timetable. Once customized and styled to fit your preferences, the template can be reused for any future meetings where you might want to use a visual timeline.
Here are the answers to some questions that frequently come up when dealing with meeting schedules.
Meeting minutes are a type of business document listing meeting participants, main points of discussion, actions taken, and the next steps agreed upon. The task of writing the meeting minutes is assigned to one of the group members ahead of the assembly or during the meeting kick-off part, and this role can be rotated if necessary. Some organizations prefer to have a designated assistant in charge of taking these notes.
The formatting of the document could vary between organizations, but typically you should expect to find the following details in most meeting minutes:
Date and time when the meeting occurred;
The names of the participants and the absentees;
Purpose of the current meeting;
Updates on the previous meeting’s minutes (accepted, rejected or modified items);
Decisions concerning the items on the agenda of the current meeting;
New business items;
Scheduling details for the following meeting;
Documents that must be included in the report.
Thanks to the linear nature of the proceedings, you could always format the schedule of the meeting as a timeline. This style offers an excellent grasp of the items on the agenda and their order.
If you are new to taking meeting minutes, you might be tempted to try and create a transcript of the full conversation that transpires. However, as this is impossible to do in real time, a better approach is to use your active listening skills and focus exclusively on major decisions, critical items and proposed solutions. Other “don’ts” in this category include:
No personal comments, judgements or observations: minutes should consist almost exclusively of summarized facts and discussion outcomes;
No abstracts or outlines from documents shared in the meeting: these documents can be attached or referenced based on their name and how they were used;
No verbatim quotes: stick to summarizing the key points of the statements;
No tense switching: while it can be tempting to use multiple tenses in order to better capture the spirit of the discussion, professionals recommend sticking with the past tense throughout the recording.
While we’re still on the topic of mistakes to avoid while taking minutes, at times you may find yourself confused about a key point. Rather than gloss over it or skip it altogether, it’s always a good idea to ask for clarifications before the meeting moves forward.
Recording meeting minutes can be broken down into three major steps, as follows:
Start with a plan
You should at least have an idea about who is responsible with the minutes, the format (i.e., on paper, in Google Docs, using a dedicated software program, etc.) and any key information that needs to be recorded.
Record the actual minutes
In addition to the date of the meeting and the participants, you should also focus on:
Activities that the participants have agreed upon;
Results of the debate or votes held during the meeting;
Motions that have either been accepted or rejected;
New business on the agenda;
Setup details for the following meeting.
Once the meeting ends, you can use the notes you’ve taken to create a presentable outline of the discussions that can be shared with the interested parties. Review your minutes for clarity and brevity, but also to be sure that you have covered all points of discussion. We recommend not waiting too long to create this document. Do it while the information is still fresh in your mind.
Store and distribute the minutes after the meeting
Depending on the length and frequency of the meetings, the minutes can end up creating a lot of paperwork. This is particularly true if you also regularly need to add multiple documents that were discussed. In this scenario, it may be a good idea to switch to a paperless, cloud-based note saving and sharing system. Not only will you be able to access the minutes for a certain session at any time and from any device, but it will be much easier to share the documents as links instead of increasingly larger files.
Meeting minutes do not need to be verbatim transcripts of the discussions that occur, but rather a summary of the key points. If you have access to the meeting agenda beforehand, you could create a template document with dedicated sections for each of the items up for discussion. With this template, you can record the main points for each item in its specific section and avoid having to explain the background of said item. For more clarity, you could also consider formatting the minutes afterwards as a roadmap, showcasing the participants, issues brought up and resolutions.
Here are a few of proactive suggestions that can help you conclude your meetings on time, without glossing over or skipping critical items:
Use time allotments (e.g. “Our time has run out”). During the planning phase, you can create a timeline based on the agenda to help you allocate a reasonable amount of time for all the speakers.
Check in with all participants (e.g. “Does anyone have anything else to add or can we end the meeting?”). People will try to circle back to a topic if their questions are left unanswered. So, make sure to ask if anyone has anything else to add before switching to a new item on the agenda or ending the meeting.
Set deadlines for deliverables (e.g. “Let’s conclude with some action points for the future”). When you want to make sure that the discussion yields tangible results, setting realistic but precise deadlines goes a long way. Office Timeline has a wide array of templates for timelines, Gantt charts, roadmaps and swimlane diagrams to help you schedule your projects.
Acknowledge the contributors and encourage participation (e.g. “Thank you all for your input”). Not only is this a great way to promote engagement, but it also acts as a verbal cue preparing the conclusion of the meeting.
Request feedback (e.g. “Is everyone satisfied with how this meeting went?”). While this is slightly risky, a temp check will tell you a lot more about how the participants actually feel with respect to the meeting, as well as give you actionable steps to improve future sessions.
The business agenda comprises the list of subjects to be broached and activities to be undertaken during the meeting. Its role is to ensure that all participants have a clear understanding of the meeting’s outline, the key points and how long each of them will take. Creating a comprehensive agenda can greatly bolster efficiency and productivity. It’s worth noting that, in addition to covering all the topics, the agenda must be clear and easy to understand. Visuals and graphics are the best way to communicate these details, so check out our meeting schedule template next time you’re preparing for an important meeting!
The best sequence is as follows:
Call to order: the facilitator or a senior team member marks the session as open;
Roll call: attendees and absentees are listed;
Reading and approving minutes: the minutes and notes from the previous meeting are examined and updated as necessary;
Reporting: senior members and committee presidents from each of the teams involved will present their reports;
Standard order of business: the items on the agenda are prioritized and discussed;
Announcements: participants have the chance to talk about any critical news or changes with an impact on the current project;
Adjournment: once all the items on the agenda are covered and the next steps are agreed upon, the meeting can be concluded.
Here are five steps to help you make the most of your next assembly:
Define the meeting objectives and the participants.
Assign roles and responsibilities (leader, facilitator, recorder, timekeeper, contributors, experts, etc.).
Set the time and location based on accessibility, availability and comfort for all attendees.
Create a clear agenda and allot time slots for every item on the list.
Distribute materials pertinent to the meeting in advance and send a post factum recap.
Use the Office Timeline PowerPoint add-in to quickly update any of these timeline templates or create your own project visuals. Easily change the texts, dates, colors, shapes and styles of your timeline, right from inside PowerPoint.