If you've ever been to a staff meeting where there's lots of talk but very few decisions are made, consider yourself a victim of poor planning. An effective agenda can take the pain out of staff meetings and remove the idea that they are a waste of time. Prepare your agenda in advance to give people time to provide input and prepare, and your next staff meeting will be quick, effective and relatively painless.
Effective agendas have input from stakeholders. When you involve other employees in creating the agenda, you'll get more commitment. Rather than pretending to be awake during the meeting, people are more likely to participate, because they know they played a role in a particular item being brought to the table. This approach to staff meetings empowers employees by giving them a voice and a vehicle to express their concerns.
There's no point to creating an agenda if there's no time to address each item. Be realistic when listing items to go over at the staff meeting -- a shorter agenda is better than one that is too long. Consider putting a time allotment next to each item. For example, you might allot five minutes to introduce two new employees and 15 minutes for a presentation on workplace etiquette.
One sure way to get a meeting off-track is to provide employees with a list of vague items. Instead of listing "building concerns," for example, put "emergency exits and security codes." Otherwise, you'll likely end up having a lengthy discussion about everything from the thermostat settings to the color of the walls. If people have additional concerns during the staff meeting, you can add them to the agenda for the next meeting.
Don't assume that everyone remembers what time the staff meeting is or where it will be held. Include the time and location of the meeting on the agenda, as well as when the meeting is expected to end, so people can plan their days accordingly. If staff members are expected to be familiar with material before attending the meeting, provide a copy of the report, spreadsheet or article they need to read, along with the agenda. If it will be helpful for people to contact one another to clarify information before the meeting, provide email addresses as well.