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Meeting Tips

Agenda Approval During Board Meetings and How to Do It Right

April 19, 2024
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Last updated
May 8, 2024
Anika Jahin
Agenda Approval During Board Meetings and How to Do It Right
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Unplanned meetings can meander aimlessly, sidetrack important discussions, and leave attendees uncertain of what was accomplished. 

An agenda sets the stage for a productive and focused board meeting. It outlines the topics to be discussed, allocates time for each item, and ensures everyone is on the same page about the meeting's goals. But simply creating an agenda isn't enough. 

Approval of the agenda, achieved through a collaborative process, is necessary for maximizing the effectiveness of your meetings.

This blog will focus on everything you need to know about the approval of agenda in board meetings.

Why Agenda Approval Matters

A clear and approved agenda sets the tone for the entire meeting. It ensures board members are prepared to discuss the most important matters and minimizes confusion or wasted time.

While there may be exceptions, approving the agenda is generally considered a standard procedure in board meetings.

Here's why:

  • Focus and Prioritization: An approved agenda keeps the meeting focused on key issues. By formally agreeing on agenda items, the board prioritizes discussions and avoids irrelevant tangents.
  • Transparency and Efficiency: A transparent agenda approval process promotes trust and streamlines decision-making. Board members understand what will be discussed and can anticipate the next steps.

The Process of Approving an Agenda

(1) Drafting

Begin by drafting an agenda that covers all necessary points and circulate it among key stakeholders for initial feedback. Ensure that each agenda item is clearly defined and includes a brief description of the discussion points.

(2) Feedback Incorporation

Once the initial draft has been reviewed by stakeholders, collect and consolidate their feedback. This feedback might include suggestions for additional topics that were overlooked, requests to remove or modify existing items, or adjustments to the time allocations for certain discussions.

(3) Formal Approval

For formal settings, such as board meetings or committees, it's common to stick to established parliamentary procedures, such as those outlined in "Robert's Rules of Order."

This guide helps ensure that the agenda approval process is orderly and fair, providing a framework for motion, discussion, amendment, and voting to finalize the agenda.

  • Motion and Second: A member proposes a motion to approve the agenda, which another member then seconds.
  • Discussion and Amendments: The chairperson opens the floor for discussion once the motion is made and seconded. It's during this time that members can propose amendments to the agenda. This could involve adding new items, deleting existing ones, or modifying the content of the agenda points.
  • Vote: After discussion, move to a vote. The chair then calls for a vote on the agenda. This can be done by voice, hand, or rolling call, depending on the size of the assembly and the formality of the meeting. Approval may require a simple majority or a unanimous decision based on the organization's bylaws. 
  • Announcement: After the vote, the chairperson announces the vote result and whether the agenda has been approved. If the agenda is approved, it becomes the official blueprint for the meeting.
  • Documentation: All amendments and the final approved version of the agenda must be documented clearly in the meeting minutes. This ensures an official record of what was decided and what will guide the meeting's proceedings.

When Is Agenda Approval Required?

Agenda approval is typically needed in formal settings like board meetings or committees where procedural adherence is crucial. It may be less formal in team or project meetings but is still valuable for structure and focus.

  • Routine Meetings: Approval might be quick, reflecting a standard procedure.
  • Strategic Sessions: Involves more in-depth discussion to finalize the agenda due to the high impact of decisions made.


Effective meetings rely on a well-defined and approved agenda. This blog has discussed in detail how to navigate the entire agenda approval process.

By utilizing the discussed approach to agenda approval in you next meeting, you can maximize the efficiency and outcome of the meeting. A well-planned agenda not only keeps meetings on track but also ensures that all the topics are covered effectively, leading to more informed decisions and better organizational outcomes.


Does an Agenda Need to Be Approved at a Meeting?

In most cases, yes, an agenda should be approved at the beginning of a meeting to ensure everyone is on the same page and to avoid wasting time on unexpected topics. However, for small informal meetings, achieving consensus through discussion might be sufficient.

What Does It Mean to Approve a Consent Agenda?

Approving a consent agenda means a group of routine, non-controversial items on the meeting agenda are voted on and approved all at once.

Here's a breakdown:

  • Consent Agenda: This is a list of items on the agenda that are typically considered routine and unlikely to spark debate. Examples include approving minutes, reports, or standardized approvals.
  • Approval: Participants vote on the entire consent agenda as a single package.

Essentially, approving a consent agenda saves time by avoiding individual votes and discussions on each routine item. However, any participant can request to remove a specific item from the consent agenda for separate discussion if needed.

How Is the Agenda Approved by Robert’s Rules?

Under Robert’s Rules, the agenda is initially written up by the secretary and approved by the presiding officer or chairperson. However, the adoption of the agenda for each meeting should be voted on by the majority of the assembly at the beginning of the meeting, and only at this point is it binding. Once adopted, it can still be changed later on if there is a two-thirds majority vote, unanimous consent, or assumed general consent.

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