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Let's Get Down to Business - Start Planning Your Year-End Meeting Agenda

It's that time of year again! The days are shorter, the air is colder, and you're wrapping up your work for the year. And it's also time to start planning your year end meeting agenda. This can be a daunting task because there are so many things to consider. This article makes planning your year-end meeting a lot easier! Plus, we'll include tips on how to prepare the best year end meeting agenda and more importantly, execute on it with full engagement from your team.

End of Year Staff Meeting Benefits

You already have too many meetings this year! Why have another big meeting? Year-end meetings are a great way to bring people together and celebrate their accomplishments. It's also good for giving everyone a chance to share what could be improved based on their experience. Lastly, it helps get your team excited for the upcoming year, helps them stay motivated, and keeps teams aligned with the company's objectives.

How to Prepare for an All-Staff Meeting

As they say, preparation is half the battle. A year-end meeting isn't exactly a war where you have to wield weapons, but as a manager who's organizing the meeting, you're battling against too many distractions. It's hard to compete with Black Friday shopping and perfectly carved turkeys. That's why it's crucial to prepare ahead of time, so you can start thinking about the best year end staff meeting ideas.

Here are the most important questions that you should take the time to answer:

Why should you hold this meeting?

As a leader, the WHY dictates every decision you make, and you should take into account your company's core values. For example, if creativity is your most important core value, you need to inject tons of creative opportunities into the meeting. Is choosing a theme and asking everyone to wear costumes a good way to do that? Or is better to have a creativity exercise during the meeting?

Who should attend and when to have the meeting?

The easiest answer is, of course, everyone should attend the meeting. But consider the size of your team and when you're holding the meeting. Most people will be on vacation around the holidays. Do you want everyone to attend the meeting and try to schedule it before vacation week?

Staff meeting ideas for the new year and suggested dates:

  • Nov 15 - 20 - A little early, but it comes before Thanksgiving and Black Friday (fewer distractions).  You can have a gratitude theme if you're having it near Thanksgiving.
  • Dec. 1 to 15 - After Hannukah and Thanksgiving but before Christmas and New Year's Eve. One of the annual team meeting ideas that goes great with these dates is Secret Santa or similar gift-giving activity.
  • Jan 3 to 10  - You'll have all the data from the previous year, and everyone is most likely back from vacation.

Where to hold the meeting?

For a fully remote team, the answer is obvious. You'll most likely be using Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams. However, it gets tricky for companies with distributed teams where some are fully remote and others are working in person. Do you want to hold an in-person year-end meeting for the on-site employees on top of the virtual year-end meeting? If you're unsure, this is another chance where you can refer to your core values. For example, if you have an async-first culture, your meeting doesn't need to be held in real-time. You can use asynchronous tools to facilitate the meeting, so you're not limited to a specific date and time.

How do you keep the attendees engaged?

Whether you're doing the meeting synchronously or asynchronously, how do you create an annual business meeting agenda that keeps everyone engaged? And more importantly, what is considered as "engagement" during the meeting? For example, if you're holding the meeting on Zoom, not everyone will have the chance to speak. However, you can encourage everyone to use the chat and the emojis reaction. Make sure to have cues in your agenda to remind them when to use the chat function or the emojis. Using polls can add another layer of engagement and encourage everyone to engage and participate more easily.

Year-End Staff Meeting Ideas

You have the vision for what your meeting is going to look like and achieve. But how do you run a year-end meeting? You might be planning a special meeting complete with themes and games. Or you're planning to make it short and efficient. Again, you want to consider your core values here. But other things you need to consider include:

  • Team Size
  • Resources
  • Team's personality and temperament

Here are a few annual team meeting ideas that work with most teams:

  • Choose a theme that is fun yet simple enough to execute. For example, you can choose a popular film as a theme and ask everyone to change their virtual background with a set from the movie.
"Team, how you doin'?"  With Zoom's virtual background, it's easy to have a virtual theme party like Friends.
  • Hold your usual staff meeting, but add trivia games highlighting the company's achievements and milestones.
  • Hold fun awards to highlight the most engaged employees. For example, you can give an award to the person who offered their help on Slack the most.

Pro tip: You can always ask your team if they have ideas on what should be included in the meeting. It's a great way to get people excited and get involved in the meeting. You can use an asynchronous tool to get the initial ideas and get people's feedback.

Annual Planning Meeting Agenda to Follow

Now that everything is set up, you might ask, "What do you say at end of meeting year ends?" The secret of knowing exactly what to say is preparing a clear and specific year end team meeting agenda. Here's a guideline on how to decide year end staff meeting agenda topics (according to the consulting firm, Fearless Culture):

  • 25 % to reflect on the past
  • 50% to acknowledge the present
  • 25% to plan for the future

Here's another example using an annual planning meeting agenda template:

You can easily copy and edit this planning meeting agenda template. Plus, you can even use it to co-create the main topics to be discussed and answer questions asynchronously. It's a great alternative for employees who won't be able to join the synchronous call, but still want to get involved. You might also want to create separate admin meeting agenda topics or an internal team meeting agenda for the management team. Make sure to check out other business strategy meeting agenda templates to find the one that fits your meeting needs best.

Wrap up Your Year End Meeting Agenda - End with Questions or a Bang

How do you end an agenda for a meeting? Most of all staff meetings end with a Q & A session with the CEO or the founders. However, you can also end with a bang to keep the excitement going even after the call. You can send your remote team a surprise gift that can be delivered to their house, such as a basket of muffins.

Year end planning meetings might seem daunting at first. But it's one of the most important meetings for the entire year. With planning and a little bit of creativity, you'll end the work year feeling fulfilled and excited for the year ahead.