Public meetings can address a number of topics from homelessness and community planning to zone issues and resident concerns. Depending on the number of items needing attention and the availability of time, a single meeting could cover multiple topics.
An agenda is a valuable resource to help city officials maintain focus and streamline the objective of their meetings. Adhering to the agenda can encourage participation, reduce wasted time and prevent public dissonance stemming from a perceived ignorance of important issues.
The power of preparation
Because taxpayers contribute to funding public objectives, many people want to know which topics city officials plan to discuss in their meetings. This is an advantage of publicly circulating a meeting agenda. Additionally, according to Chron, meeting participants can reference the agenda to effectively prepare for an informative discussion.
Experts recommend that meeting planners phrase items on an agenda in question form. This encourages people to start brainstorming answers and solutions. For example, if leaders wish to discuss the impact of zoning on their educational systems, they can phrase the topic on the agenda as “How will these zoning changes affect the capacity of our schools?”
The benefit of accountability
An agenda encourages the accountability of all participants. Providing the list of topics ahead of time in the form of an agenda leaves no excuses for participants to come unprepared. As such, meeting leaders should practice due diligence in adhering to the outline of the agenda out of respect for those who prepared content based on the provided information.
At the end of a meeting, leaders can emphasize the next steps. The New York Times suggests proposing an action plan and verifying every participant’s responsibilities. If applicable, agendas for subsequent meetings can include a summary of the action plan.