The agenda is now ready to be prepared. The group should first outline the tasks to be accomplished and determine how much time is available to accomplish these tasks. Can the group’s overall assignment be divided into parts? How much time should be allocated to each task? Is this sufficient time? Do expectations concerning group accomplishment need to be modified given the time constraints and requirements? What other resources will be needed to accomplish the tasks? Will they be available at the appropriate time? Does the schedule need to be modified in accordance with the availability of these resources?
Preparing for Meeting. With answers to these questions, one is ready to make decisions concerning the sequencing of tasks and the allocation of time to each task. This is where an appreciative and empowering strategy is particularly important. Group member involvement is critical at this juncture. Leadership styles come into play, as does the primary function of the group. How involved should group members be in setting up the agenda? Who arbitrates disputes about the agenda? In general, informational and problem solving agendas can be set up with less group member participation than can decision-making agendas. The more mature the group and the longer the group will be in existence, the more advisable it is to include group members in agenda decisions. The greater the role which group members will take in the actual implementation of decisions that are made or solutions that are generated, the more actively involved should be these members in the formulation of an agenda.
Agendas often are set up at the end of one meeting for the next meeting of the group. Group members are asked: Given the available information and our understanding of the primary functions of this group, what are the issues we need to address at our next meeting? A limited discussion of five to ten minutes ensues or the group breaks into several small “caucus” teams to generate a short list of issues that are, in turn, discussed by the whole group after three to five minutes. Alternatively, a group can select two or three members to serve as an agenda committee for the next meeting. These members solicit ideas from their colleagues before meeting together to establish the agenda. Under conditions of parliamentary procedure (see discussion below), a standard format will usually dictate the tasks and ordering of tasks at a meeting that involves issues that may or inevitably will evoke conflict. Group members, however, still have the right to order new items of business and new motions, or simply choose to address these items as they are offered from the floor by the membership.