How to write a meeting agenda

A couple of weeks ago the two branch managers I teach at a logistics company, told me that they needed to write an agenda for a meeting they were hosting (in English) with other branch managers from a range of European countries. They asked if we could focus on this topic in our next English lesson, the following week. I said, “Of course, we can do that.” I´d never taught a lesson on this topic before since most of my participants have previously been employees on a lower rung of the corporate ladder doing administrative and controlling work or manual work in the production. There must be some material out there for this topic though, I thought, there has to be.

After scouring all the course books I own (admittedly, my selection is of average size, far from comprehensive) and the internet for help, I found next to nothing which I could use to help my learners effectively write an agenda in English for their meeting, so I decided to put something together myself. My web search wasn´t entirely fruitless, however, and I found a text helpfully entitled “How to write a meeting agenda.” on the Microsoft training website. The text was far from perfect though. The learners are both high B1s and would have struggled with some of the more complicated parts of the text, so I simplified them and generally did my best to make the English more learner-friendly in my version. I also added questions for them to discuss their answers to before they read the text to warm them up and get them thinking about meeting agendas. I then decided to give them a vocabulary challenge by blanking all but the first letter or first two letters of the some of the key vocabulary for meetings and agendas, and asking them to complete them. This makes it a more active exercise since the learners have to recall and use vocabulary and it exposes possible lacks in their meetings vocabulary repertoire which we can then work on together.

Before we looked at the text together though, I brought in some examples of meeting agendas that I have in English and they brought in some examples that they had and we evaluated them together: What points do they include? How effective are they? Is there anything missing?

The learners responded well to the exercise: they said it gave them just what they needed, it got them talking, got them thinking and they began to activate their passive vocabulary and learn some new words which will prove useful to them during their upcoming meeting. We spent most of our 90 minute lesson on this activity and then followed it up in the next lesson by actually writing the agenda. If your learners don´t have a meeting agenda to write in real-life right now, then you could still do this follow-up activity in the form of a simulation based on a meeting context which you´re participants have recently had.

If anyone has or knows of any other resources for writing meeting agendas, I would very much like to know about them.

You can download the worksheet here.

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4 Comments

Filed under From the training room

4 responses to “How to write a meeting agenda

  1. Hi Clare, that sounds like a really nice activity. The Business Upper Int and Adv by Macmillan have some nice stuff on minute writing, action notes and report writing

  2. Hi Claire, it’s a good activity, authentic, interactive, task based and with tangible results for the BE learners. Anything that ticks those boxes is usually popular with busy and results-orientated professionals.

    It made me even more keen to come to your talk in Paris. However I’m on holiday. Will you be posting any videos or slides of your Paris talk?

    I think I need to come to a BESIG congress.

    Best regards,
    Christopher Wright

    • Thanks for your comment Christopher, I´m really pleased to hear you like the activity. I like using authentic, interactive and task-based activities in my courses and tangible results are definitely something that I aim for.

      It´s a shame we won´t get to meet at the BESIG Summer Symposium. The main aim of the workshop I´ll be doing there is to look at how to adapt authentic materials for classroom use and to make this process a little easier and less time-consuming for teachers. I´ll post the slides in a blog post on this site with an overview of the workshop. Hope to see you at another conference, perhaps the BESIG Annual Conference in Stuttgart in November (?)

      Best regards,
      Claire

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