How to hold a strategic planning meeting: A simple, step-by-step guide for facilitators

November 22, 2021

If you’re running or facilitating a strategic planning meeting, there are many factors to consider.

It’s much more than just bringing everyone together to have an open discussion — and it doesn’t just happen on its own, either.

There are several steps you can take to ensure that your strategic planning meeting runs smoothly, but it all starts with preparation.

Today, we’ll explore a few ideas to help you hold a successful session, starting with the basics.

annual strategic planning meeting agenda

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Table of contents

21 min read

What is strategic planning?

Best practices for running a successful strategic planning session

How to run a strategic planning meeting in 7 steps

Sample agenda for a strategic planning meeting

It all comes down to solid preparation and visuals.

Strategic planning is the process of analyzing a current situation within your organization and making sure it’s aligned with your specific objectives. If it isn’t, you and your team must develop a plan to “correct the path.”

So, why is strategic planning important?

In short, strategic planning helps you get from where you are today to the future you want. It’s a way of breaking down big, daunting goals into manageable steps that address your current situation and guide your work.

Visual representation of the strategic planning process

Here’s where strategic planning meetings come into play.

Meetings are the cornerstone of the strategic planning process.

These meetings are typically held by facilitators , but anyone can lead a strategic planning meeting.

We’ll provide you with specific instructions to hold a successful meeting a bit later, but first, let’s answer a crucial question.

What is the purpose of a strategic plan meeting?

Broadly speaking, a facilitator will use meetings to either:

  • Gather specific information and feedback from team members, executives, and stakeholders.
  • Help team members work together to solve problems, think strategically, and create new ideas to improve the organization.

These meetings aim to provide clarity in decision-making.

This is not a typical meeting where participants spend time reporting out. Strategy planning is all about brainstorming and collaboration .

This way, you can develop solutions to tangible problems in your organization and set the tone and strategic direction for your team.

Who needs to be included?

The best way to ensure that you get all of the most relevant voices in the room is to create an invite list.

Include people from each relevant department, if possible.

This way, you can cover a more complete spectrum of your company’s operations and activities.

You’ll want to include upper management, but don’t stop there.

Bring in members of the sales department, investor relations, human resources, and any other relevant departments or stakeholders.

You might also consider inviting people from outside of the organization who can provide a fresh perspective.

This is particularly useful for organizations that are doing business in a new market or have started offering new products.

Now that you understand the importance of effective strategic planning meetings, the question becomes, how do you actually hold one?

Let’s cover a few of the best practices:

Strategic planning best practices

Build buy-in before the meeting starts

First, you’ll want to build buy-in with everyone involved.

Keep what you’re doing top-of-mind, whether that’s through casual conversations or company-wide memos.

In addition, make sure to have a clear agenda prepared, so everyone knows what they can expect out of the meeting. Start by defining the goal, then detail how you’ll get there.

Also, get all the materials you need together in advance.

That may look like coordinating with IT to make sure everyone has access to company software, sending out pertinent documents in advance, or mapping out who will be speaking at the meeting.

Make sure to communicate your expectations clearly so that everyone knows what is expected of them and why.

You’ll want to spend time in your planning stages to keep the tone positive, while at the same time being realistic about what’s possible.

Ultimately, your goal should be to align the team around a shared vision and mission so that you can move forward with a shared perspective.

Now, how can you communicate this agenda?

We suggest you use a centralized space where everyone can see your agenda.

For example, you can use Miro’s Agenda template to create and share your agenda with participants.

annual strategic planning meeting agenda

You can also use the template to keep notes during the meeting and add refinements later.

This way, everyone can see what’s been discussed and the next steps for moving forward.

Remember; this should be a collaborative effort, so consider asking for ideas from everyone about what they’d like to see covered.

Just don’t forget to actually take those ideas into consideration.

Develop a transparent strategic planning process

During the strategic process, you’re inviting employees to have meaningful discussions around the company’s vision statement, strategic goals, and strategic objectives.

It’s important to have a roadmap in place for how you will facilitate the process so that employees know what to expect.

Your meeting should be an open, engaging discussion with transparent dialog. During the meeting, everyone should get a turn to talk.

Make sure you have a clear process that allows everyone to participate and feel heard, no matter what their role is.

In the planning stage of a meeting, it’s important to have as much input as possible.

You can involve everyone by holding a virtual brainstorming session with this brainstorming template . Once you create a board, you can invite people to collaborate in real-time.

Miro's brainwriting template screenshot

This template helps you create a more engaging and collaborative session while allowing every person on the team to contribute their thoughts.

Create an agenda and stick to it

We all know what happens when an agenda is not set or adhered to.

Creating an agenda for your meeting helps you and your participants stay on track. This agenda should include topics, questions, milestones, and people.

Milestones are the larger topics that will be broken down into smaller questions, and these questions should flow to the ultimate goal of narrowing down your strategic priorities.

You can create milestones by putting together a list of discussion questions that will help your participants get on topic and help you check in with the group.

Your agenda might include an opening discussion, a brainstorming session on ideas, and a closing review of next steps.

When developing your agenda:

  • Keep it short: The last thing you want is your meeting to drag on for no good reason, so try to limit each agenda item to ten minutes or less. The whole meeting should only take an hour or two, at most.
  • Be selective: Don’t include too many topics or ideas that will bog down your meeting.
  • Create a contingency plan: You never know what might happen during your meeting, so always have a backup plan in case your agenda falls through.
  • Plan for breaks: For longer meetings or workshops, set aside at least half an hour to take a break, such as during lunchtime.

Make it interactive

As much as possible, you’ll want to make this a collaborative effort, so it’s important to get everyone involved.

For example, you might want to break the group down into smaller sub-teams to brainstorm opportunities for new product features.

You could also task each group with creating a list of opportunities for particular departments within your company.

The point is that you’ll want to encourage open and honest dialog about challenges your company is facing and, where possible, break down any barriers that might stand in the way of progress.

Make sure to collaboratively create strategy documents, provide regular updates on progress, and discuss strategic issues in real-time.

Miro's collaboration features in action

This way, you can work side-by-side to improve your performance, no matter where in the world your team members happen to be.

To get the most out of each session, you should prepare thoroughly — from the agenda to who you’ll involve and how.

Whether you’re holding a remote, hybrid, or in-person meeting, this process will help you out.

1. Define a clear outcome for the meeting

A strategic planning meeting can go totally off-the-rails if it’s held without a defined objective. That’s why the very first step is to define a clear, tangible goal for the meeting.

For example, your objective might be to better align social media with your marketing strategies .

In this case, your meeting might include a discussion on the purpose of social media, its role in the planning process, and how to better align your social media campaign with your organizational goals.

If your goal is to develop a new product , your meeting might look different.

Consider discussing who the target audience would be and how you can get in front of them. You could also discuss how the product should be positioned in the marketplace and what strategies you’ll use to get it there.

You can also set specific strategic planning meeting themes as part of your objectives, such as business growth or innovation.

The point is to be as specific as possible with your goal. That way, it’s easier for everyone to stay on task and make the right decisions.

2. Break the ice

A strategic planning meeting can be a big undertaking, so it’s important to break the ice by engaging participants in some friendly conversation.

You may want to ask participants what they think of the company’s latest direction or engage them in a fun icebreaker activity.

You can also ask them what they think of the new business strategy and how they would implement it.

Or you could ask participants to complete an activity that allows them to interact with one another and develop a better understanding of each other’s unique skills.

For instance, you could assign participants to form teams, then ask them to create a project plan to solve an issue the company might be experiencing.

You can also break the ice by having participants introduce themselves.

If you’re holding a remote or hybrid meeting, you could have participants discuss what they think in a private online chat room, or you could use an instant messaging program for the same purpose.

Make sure they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas with each other before starting the main agenda.

The bottom line?

The more connected the group is prior to the meeting, the more effective the meeting will be.

3. Set clear expectations

Once you know what you want out of the meeting, the next step is to communicate any expectations of participants, such as things they should prepare in advance of the meeting.

Here are some useful guidelines to keep in mind when you’re setting expectations:

  • Provide details: The more detail you provide, the clearer it will be as to what’s required.
  • Assign roles: Make sure everyone knows their role and responsibilities within the meeting audience.
  • Use timelines: Use timelines to remind everyone of what needs to be completed before the meeting and send reminders if necessary.
  • Communicate effectively : Encourage participants to talk with their teams about the fact strategy planning is happening. They may want to set up smaller meetings to gather input for the strategy planning workshop or to share the outputs after the meeting to give employees a chance to ask questions..

4. Set ground rules for behavior

Before the meeting starts, make sure everyone knows the rules.

Values, culture, and norms

This is especially important when working with external stakeholders.

For example, you might say something like:

“The goal of this meeting is to develop the strategic plan for the next quarter. We want to minimize distractions, so please don’t check your phone during the meeting.”

Another good idea is to let participants know how they’ll be evaluated. For example, if you’re trying to make progress on a project, you might say something like:

“Let’s try and reach a consensus on the first three points. If we can do that, we’ll consider the meeting a success.”

If you’re dealing with a remote or hybrid team, you should take the time to define online behavior standards. For instance, you could say something like:

“If you have a question, please type it in the chat window. Using outside chat programs is not permitted during the meeting.”

This way, you’ll have everyone invested in the outcome.

5. Identify potential challenges

Before the meeting starts, it’s always good to identify potential areas of conflict that might derail the process.

For example, what would happen if someone had to leave halfway through? Will the meeting continue without them, or will you reconvene once they’re back?

You should also consider how to handle difficult participants. Can you remove a difficult participant from the meeting before they hijack all of your time?

What happens if a disagreement comes up and it’s not resolved?

You should prepare for all these things in advance and have a plan ready if they do happen. For example, consider using a countdown timer for specific agenda items or presentations, so that time is allocated fairly.

Interactive whiteboard with linked agenda and countdown timer shown

If you identify potential challenges early on, you can keep an eye out for them as the meeting proceeds.

6. Encourage full participation

Remember that you’re asking people to spend time — and sometimes travel — to participate in your meeting.

It’s essential that everyone feels like they have the opportunity to participate. The best way to do this is by mentioning at the beginning of the meeting that you’d like everyone’s input throughout.

Make sure to keep an eye out for people who aren’t speaking up. If it seems like they may have something to contribute, ask them for their thoughts on the topic.

Also, make sure everyone knows that participation is critical. If you need to take a vote on something, remind people what the vote is about and why it matters.

Finally, make sure you’re speaking in terms that everyone in the room can understand. If there are people who are new to the organization, spend a moment explaining any acronyms you use.

This will allow everyone to feel like they can give their input with ease, leading to a more successful meeting.

7. Use visuals and brainstorming tools to communicate ideas

Having everyone on the same page is critical, even if they can’t be in the same room.

Here’s where visuals and collaboration platforms come in handy.

Using collaborative tools, like our brainstorming templates helps you organize work and removes some of the stress of coming up with ideas on the spot.

It also encourages people to provide input and makes them feel like they have a stake in the outcome.

For instance, you can use Miro’s Reverse Brainstorming template to come up with innovative ideas and display them in real-time. You can save the meeting content on the board too, so you can send it to participants after the meeting.

Miro's Reverse Brainstorming template screenshot

This can be especially useful if you have multiple participants in different locations involved at the same time. They may not be able to physically attend the meeting, but they can still provide valuable input.

Also, we provide you with a fully customizable strategic plan template .

Miro's strategic plan template screenshot

You can adapt this template to fit your exact business needs and standardize your meetings with ease.

You need to make sure your strategic planning meeting agenda is detailed and thorough enough to keep you on task.

Start with an overview of what you’ll be discussing, then move into individual department updates. This is where you highlight progress against targets.

Finally, spend some time outlining your organizational goals moving forward and, of course, always leave time for questions.

To help you better understand what a strategy planning session might look like in the real world, here’s a sample agenda:

  • 10am–11am: Welcome and meeting goals
  • 11am–12pm: Leadership team updates
  • 12pm–1pm: Department updates
  • 1pm–2pm: Lunch break
  • 2pm–3pm: Analyze challenges and problems
  • 3pm–4pm: Ideate solutions
  • 4pm–5pm: Discuss and gain consensus on solutions and goals
  • 5pm–6pm: Assign tasks and responsibilities for strategy execution
  • 6pm–7pm: Q&A

The best way to ensure your meeting runs smoothly and effectively is to prepare it with anticipation. By creating a clear agenda, you’re able to get the most out of your session.

Also, the use of visuals and brainstorming tools helps you collaborate with your team and communicate your critical points more effectively.

You can hold your planning meetings in a more visual way by creating a board and sharing with your team.

Also, you can use the strategic planning meeting template to get started with fewer headaches.

Want an action-oriented framework to help your team continuously improve?

Try the strategic planning template.

annual strategic planning meeting agenda

Rebel's Guide to Project Management

Your Strategy Planning Meeting Agenda (with Template)

Have you been asked to pull together a strategy planning meeting agenda? And you’re wondering what other people do in their strategic planning sessions… I’ve been there!

In this article, I’ll explain what a strategic planning meeting can cover and share a sample agenda you can customize for your strategy sessions.

Strategy planning doesn’t just happen. You can’t put people in a room and expect there to be a 3-year plan at the end of it. The conversations need a structure to help keep the pace and ensure the meeting runs smoothly. And that’s where the agenda comes in, as part of your pre-meeting prep.

What should a strategic planning meeting include?

A strategic planning meeting should include:

  • A review of organizational objectives
  • An assessment of how you are doing against those objectives
  • Decisions around what needs to be sped up, slowed down, started or stopped in order to better align activity with the objectives.

If you think about the point of having a strategy discussion, it’s really to either define the strategy or to decide if you are on track with delivering the strategy . What you need to include in the meeting has to tie back to those points.

In other words, what do you want to get out of your strategic planning process? Is it a new strategic plan? An update to the last one because something drastic has changed? A review with some ‘light editing’ to ensure decisions are being taken that keep you on track to meet your goals?

What goes into your meeting (and therefore, your agenda) will very much depend on where you are in the strategy planning cycle.

When do strategic meetings happen?

There’s no fixed cadence for strategy conversations. Some businesses use quarterly meetings. Some might do a lot of planning during the existing structure of board meetings. As long as sufficient time is put aside for strategic thinking, you can set whatever frequency of meeting you like.

I would recommend quarterly review sessions, with a longer goal-setting session once a year, but do whatever works for you. If you are putting together your first strategy or doing a complete overhaul, you’ll need to spend a lot more time on it to get the strategic process set up and the relevant data collected.

Sample strategy planning meeting agenda template

Strategy meetings tend to be quite long. You might put a full day or even two aside for your planning. For that reason, it’s often better to do them in-person instead of remote, but these days do what works best for you and the team.

If you have to hold the workshop remotely, with people dialling in, make sure you schedule enough screen breaks.

Every effective meeting needs an agenda, and the great thing about strategic sessions is that you can tailor the agenda to cover the topics that would be the most valuable to wherever you are in the planning cycle. The strategic planning agenda below assumes you are meeting in-person, and is suitable for a strategic review session.

9.30am: Welcome

Use this time for introductions. Do an ice breaker exercise if your attendees won’t think it is cheesy (mine would). Share the meeting objectives and make it clear this is a strategic meeting so people don’t get carried away with the detail. Discuss ways of working e.g. no using mobile phones.

In my experience, the people attending strategy meetings are switched-on leaders who will carry themselves in a professional manner, so I wouldn’t worry too much about setting ground rules, but if you think they would value having some guardrails for acceptable behavior during the conversations, then by all means add that in.

10am: Big picture strategy

Present the overall roadmap, for example, a timeline for the 5 year plan. Make sure everyone is clear on where the organization is going and what big chunks make that up. For example, perhaps you have a couple of different portfolios that support the strategy.

You can use this time to talk about the current situation, the company’s strategy and how your department fits into that. This section should answer the question: where are we now?

Meetings template bundle contents

10.30am: Coffee break

Give people time for a bathroom break and to get something to drink.

10.45am: Progress review

Have each executive or leader in the room share their area’s progress against their area of the strategic plan. They can bring in team members to present specific topics if that would help, and if their expertise is needed as part of the debate.

These presentations don’t necessarily need to be formal, but they should cover what objectives the department is working to, how they link to the big picture strategy and whether they are on track. Talk about whether milestones are on track to be hit. Present the budget figures related to the area and the confidence levels around meeting those.

This section of the agenda might be long, depending on how many leaders you have to get round, so adjust the rest of the agenda to fit your timings. I’d suggest everyone gets 30 minutes but it depends on what you think they have to share and how much discussion there will be about each area. If possible, timebox the updates so you keep the meeting moving.

Alternative session: Where do we want to be?

If you haven’t got strategic progress to report, use this time to:

  • Brainstorm where you want to be
  • Agree where you are going
  • Create a vision for the next 3 years
  • Document the vision and mission.

12.45pm: Lunch break

Schedule in some time to eat and return calls.

1.30pm: Key issues

It’s worth parking the discussion of any major issues that affect multiple areas until after everyone has had a chance to present their updates, because then it’s easier to see the bigger picture and what might be affected.

Use this time to review anything that dropped out of the morning’s conversations. There might be new opportunities, challenges, resource constraints, market changes and more.

This section of your day should answer the question: what might stop us from getting where we want to go? Think about the values, skills, culture and risks that might block your progress.

2.30pm: Revise plans

After you’ve discussed the challenges or opportunities that present themselves, go back to the plans and see how that information affects what you are committing to do for the next period.

Agree changes as required. This part of your agenda answers the question: what do we need to do? If you do need to do anything differently in order to get back on track or head off in the right direction, this is where you should be discussing and agreeing.

3.30pm: Action planning

I like action planning! Strategy meetings should be all about decision-making, so you should ring-fence some time to talk about how to turn those decisions into action items . List out what needs to be done and allocate owners and timescales to each.

One thing that should definitely be on the action list is how you are going to communicate the decisions made today to everyone else in the team. Add them to the decision log . Make sure someone is responsible for creating and circulating meeting minutes.

This is an important part of the strategy meeting and it answers the question: how will we do it?

4.30pm: Any Other Business

Use this time for the ‘one last thing’ that people want to bring up.

5pm: Wrap up and close

Finally, wrap up the meeting, draw it to a close and if you are going to meet again, put the date in the diary. Then go down the pub!

example strategy agenda

Tailoring the strategy agenda

As you’ve probably realized, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy meeting agenda that will suit every need. If you are starting from scratch and are using the time to write your strategy, you’ll need to put time aside for brainstorming new ideas, a presentation of market research analysis or feedback from customer focus groups.

If you are reviewing the projects that make up the strategy, you might bring each project manager in to present their project, before discussing as a team what initiatives need to be brought into the portfolio to ensure the strategic goals can be met.

The important thing is to always go back to the why: why are you meeting and what do you want to get out of the time? You can’t go wrong if you start there.

5 Considerations for a strategy planning workshop

So you’re ready to draw up that meeting agenda. Here’s what to consider before you get going.

1. Set the objective

I like to write the objective for any meeting at the top of the agenda. It helps focus people’s minds and keeps the conversation on track. Think about what you are meeting for and what the leadership teams are expecting to get out of it. Here are some examples:

  • To define the 5-year growth plan for the organization
  • To establish the projects we want to focus on to meet our strategic goals for the next 12 months
  • To review the new products we intend to bring to market in the next 3 years
  • To set the IT agenda for the next 24 months

You can hold strategic planning workshops for departments, teams or for the business overall. You can plan for the long term or adopt a rolling wave planning approach to plan ongoing. So which is it for you?

2. Let people know what is going to happen

Set expectations for the meeting. Let people know what contributions are expected from them. What do they need to prep in advance? Ask them for their agenda items – you might not include them as ‘real’ agenda items but it would help to know what talking points they intend to bring up.

Share any papers, timelines, business cases, strategy documents etc that make useful background reading. The more ready people are to contribute, the more you will get done during the meeting.

3. Prepare for conflict

As the meeting facilitator, you’ll have a good idea of the topics that will come up. And the potential flashpoints. For example, there are always conversations about budget. Doing anything strategic seems to cost a lot, and investing in one area means another area doesn’t get the investment.

Try to spot any sources of potential disputes in advance so you have pre-meeting conversations to manage expectations and ensure everyone comes to the session with an open mind (and the data to support their case). Healthy debates are to be encouraged!

Think about how to resolve conflict as a team if you can’t get to consensus. There are several group decision-making techniques you could try. In my experience, it’s often the most senior person in the room who makes the final call – strategy is not always a team game. It might not feel fair, but there are often political, economic, commercial and environmental reasons for decisions that might not always be clear to everyone in the room.

Whatever you think the outcome might be, have a few phrases to help facilitate the debate if it seems attendees are getting stuck. For example:

“Ultimately, it’s Fiona’s decision. Fiona, what do you want us to do?” “Let’s continue this conversation for another 10 minutes and if we aren’t able to reach a decision at that point, I suggest that Henry and Priya book some time to review and come back to us with a recommendation next week.” “IT are the guardians of that process. Do you agree to that approach?”

4. Prepare to go off script

I’ve been in strat planning meetings where we started with an agenda and then went totally off script… and the output was all the better for it. It’s great to have an agenda, and the template above gives you a starting point, but if it feels like the right thing to do is to delve into a particular area, then do it.

Strategy is too important to shortcut. If it feels like the meeting is taking longer, just say: “This feels like an important topic. Is everyone OK with staying with it for a little longer?” or “That isn’t something we were going to cover today but it sounds like it’s important that we get into it. Does everyone agree?”

Talk about what needs to be talked about. Strategy work takes time. The agenda is there as a guide but sometimes you just need to get it all out on the table.

5. Define success

What would a successful meeting look like? Sometimes it’s going to be OK to just talk and debate until you get to the heart of your strategy. Other times you might want to go all in on a brainstorming session and success will look like 20 new ideas.

It might be that you want to gain agreement on three new projects or prepare an update to go to the next board meeting. Think about what would constitute a successful outcome and try to guide people towards that.

Your next steps

  • Agree the goals of your strategy meeting
  • Write the agenda
  • Socialize some of the ideas
  • Adequately prepare for the session so you feel ready to facilitate it

In this article you learned what to include in your strategy planning meeting agenda and what considerations go into planning a successful strategy workshop. Don’t forget to grab a free action log template to record all the good stuff that comes out of your meeting. I hope it goes really well for you!

Pin for later reading

strategy planning meeting agenda

Project manager, author, mentor

Elizabeth Harrin is a Fellow of the Association for Project Management in the UK. She holds degrees from the University of York and Roehampton University, and several project management certifications including APM PMQ. She first took her PRINCE2 Practitioner exam in 2004 and has worked extensively in project delivery for over 20 years. Elizabeth is also the founder of the Project Management Rebels community, a mentoring group for professionals. She's written several books for project managers including Managing Multiple Projects .


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Sample strategic planning agenda 2023 strategic planning process UPDATED

By Anthony Taylor - March 29, 2023

annual strategic planning meeting agenda

Strategic planning Agenda for your next strategy meeting.

We've been leading strategic planning meetings for the past 12 years (and counting), and we've tested dozens of different strategic planning agendas so that you don't have to. Use our experience to have the best and most effective strategic planning process. 

Need a strategic planning facilitator so you can participate in an unbiased strategic planning process? Contact us today or learn more about your facilitation options:

Free resources to support your strategic planning. 

Download these tools to complement your strategic planning agenda. 

  • Strategic planning template
  • Alignment Scorecard: Measure your team's alignment
  • 15 questions to ask your team before strategic planning . 

What is a good strategic planning process?

  • Tips to prepare for a strategic planning meeting
  • Recommended Pre-Work Agenda & Timeline
  • One Day strategic planning meeting agenda
  • Two Day strategic planning meeting agenda
  • Three day strategic planning meeting agenda

Virtual strategic planning meeting agenda

A good strategic planning process will help your team get clear and aligned on a few key areas:

  • Where are we now?
  • Where are we going?
  • What's going to get in the way?
  • How are we going to implement the plan/what do we need to do? 

If you're leading a strategic planning process with a team, getting alignment is critical. 

If you don't have a good process, you'll likely go on many tangents, "get stuck in the weeds" of the details, and not end up with a clear direction. 

A good strategic planning process needs a balance of outcomes and actions to help you reach your vision, or One Destination. 

With too many actions, you'll be busy working on a lot of tasks but might not be working in the right direction or towards shared outcomes. 

Without any actions, it means that your team will get stuck on determining "what's next" and your plan will take a much longer time to implement, or worse, not get implemented at all.

How to have a successful strategic planning meeting

After having led hundreds of strategy meetings both online and virtually (and all over the world) here are some things to consider prior to developing your agenda to ensure you have a good strategy meeting/offsite and overall strategic planning process:

Leverage Pre-work so the time you spend in the strategy meeting are used optimally. Don't present documents or research that could have been done in advance. Use the time to have discussions, and make important choices.

Have high-quality food and snacks, including breakfast with protein. Strategic planning is an incredibly taxing process for the brain and requires lots of calories. You don't want your group hitting a mid-afternoon lull when the most important work of the day is still underway. Have a good breakfast, good snacks, and high-quality meals. Avoid carb-heavy meals so people don't have a sugar crash, and save any alcohol for the end of the day after your planning session is complete. 

Go offsite if possible: When we've done sessions at people's offices, they get interrupted with day-to-day issues and takes away their ability to get outside of the day-to-day. I've also found that people are slightly more reserved because they don't want staff to know what's going on until the whole strategic planning process is complete. You'll find that while there is an additional cost to going offsite, you'll get better engagement from participants of the strategy meeting. 

Use a facilitator: If you don't have a facilitator, you are the facilitator. This means that if you're the CEO or head of HR, you're going to have a really hard time balancing the hat of facilitator, and your own role. You won't be able to participate fully if you're facilitating. Furthermore, your participants will have a harder time being honest and transparent with a facilitator who already has a bias one way or the other. 

Think strategically: People love get to get into the how/actions before fully clarifying the what and why (Mission/Vision). The result is that you'll get into rabbit holes, you'll digress, and people will get frustrated. Focus on your highest-level strategic outcomes and work your way to the actions, not the other way around. 

Wear the group hat: Strategic planning meetings get easily derailed when individual participants focus on their own needs/desires ahead of those of the group. Ask everyone to come to the meeting "wearing their organization hat" not their individual role hat. It's not a problem they advocate for their own role, but it's a group session first and foremost. 

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Recommended pre-work agenda & timeline: .

Pre-work serves two purposes: one, to make sure that your people are prepared for the upcoming strategic planning sessions so that you can make the most of your time, and two, to help align and engage participants (and stakeholders) early on in the planning process. 

One day strategic planning meeting agenda

This one-day planning agenda is great for a small company or non-profit that needs a refresher on the organization's direction.

If you want to make the most of your limited time for strategic planning, learn more about using a strategic planning facilitator for your session. 

Before sharing the agenda, we want to note that we no longer facilitate or offer to facilitate one-day strategic planning meetings. 

Most notably, because as an external team we could not accomplish full alignment or create a complete enough strategic plan with only a one-day agenda. 

If you are leading this process internally, and you’ve been able to successfully pull stakeholders into the process prior to this one-day meeting.

And/or you will have subsequent strategy meetings at a later date to complete the strategic planning process fully. This one-day meeting is the first of many strategic planning sessions, then please use the agenda below. 

If your only option is to have a one day strategy meeting, it’s better than no meeting.

We would not advise any of our clients to only have a one-day strategic planning meeting and expect to have full clarity or alignment with your current state, vision, mission, values, priorities, goals and actions within an 8-hour day. It’s jut not realistic.

That said, If all the pre-work was done we’d focus on the core conversations needed for alignment. 

“To maximize your time, make sure to get your team involved prior to your one-day strategy meeting. Our free strategic planning questionnaire offers the key questions to help start you r strategic planning process ”

  • Vision: Where are we going? Watch : How to Start the Vision Planning Process
  • Mission/purpose: Why do we exist? Who is the customer we serve?
  • Strategic Priorities: What do we need to focus on to achieve our Vision? Watch : How to Set Strategic Priorities
  • Action planning for the strategic priorities

A few things to note:

This one-day planning session is possible if you have a small team of six or less people. If you have more people, then you will likely need more time to work through the complete process. 

The survey is a survey we run with our clients to help them get in the right mindset, and ask the key questions before the session happens to cut down on some of the discussion.

Strategic priorities, KPI's and the biggest priority all roll in together, but are separated because it leaves fluidity for ample conversation and adapting the  agenda.

Two -Day Strategic Planning Session (Most common + Recommended) 

We recommend two full days for most organizations.

The reason we don't believe an organization of the above size should use a shorter agenda for their strategy meeting is that there are too many essential conversations that need to be had.

At that size, your organization needs to be fully aligned from top down and bottom up, and should consider more fully the internal and external environment, current challenges and risks, and align the plan to your long-term vision, mission and values.

That alignment takes time, but it's needed because it will serve as a guide for the other members of the team that aren't participating in the strategic planning session. 

Here's a graphic representation of the strategic planning agenda. 

Sample strategic planning agenda 2023 UPDATE strategic planning process

DAY 1: 9:00 am-5:30 pm


Day 2: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Enroll in our strategic planning course

Three-day strategic planning meeting agenda

If you have 3 days for strategic planning, we still use the two-day agenda as the foundation, but we add a couple of key conversations that vary depending on the organization.

That said, the 3rd day is always focused on execution. 

We typically break up the day into 90-minute alignment areas for problem-solving and alignment. 

We also use the time to dig deeper into action plans.

For example:

After going through the strategic planning process over 3 days, your team should be aligned and clear on the most important parts of your strategic plan. 

As you implement your plan, there will certainly be issues that arise where you need to discuss again and re-align. 

In addition to facilitating strategic planning sessions, we also support strategic plan implementation through coaching, accountability and training. 

Learn more about our how our strategic planning consultants can help you with the implementation of your strategic plan.

While the first phase of in-person offsite facilitation is usually completed in two 8-hr working days, we recommend splitting this up online to optimize engagement and to reduce screen fatigue. We recommend holding 5 x 3hr sessions, roughly one week apart. This allows enough time to take a deep dive into the work each session, with space for creative thinking, reflection and any homework between each session. 

For example:  

  • While we recommend holding virtual sessions one week apart to allow for information digestion and homework time, you may wish to hold the sessions closer together or further apart, depending on your organizational needs
  • While we recommend 3-hour sessions because it’s long enough to dive into the deep work, and short enough to hold attention spans, you may wish to have shorter or longer sessions, depending on scheduling needs for your team (ex: 6x 2.5hr sessions, or 4x 4hr sessions)

Tools & Resources to Enhance Participation & Engagement 

In addition to our agenda, we utilize several tools and resources to help enhance participation and engagement within virtual strategy meetings. 

While there are abundant options to consider, some of our favourites include:

  • Zoom – This is a great platform to host strategy meetings as it allows the facilitator to see multiple participants at once in a grid view, to share their screen, utilize breakout rooms for small group discussions, to incorporate polling, text chat, and other functionalities
  • Liberating Structures – These are techniques and activities to help boost engagement and inclusion within group meetings and are considered a best practice within adult learning
  • Mentimeter – This platform allows meeting hosts to poll participants, generate group word clouds, and obtain real-time data from multiple participants at once
  • PPT Presentations – It’s a good practice for the strategy facilitator to have a PPT slide deck to help guide the discussions and to provide visual feedback to participants via screen sharing. This will allow participants to both see and hear any key instructions for activities throughout the session. 

Post-work Once you’ve completed your strategic planning process, the planning work is not over. It’s important to make sure that prior implementation that you’ve:

  • Solidified your priorities and defined SMART goals  
  • Documented your plan in a digestible way (ex:. a PPT presentation or PDF)
  • Developed a communication plan to share and cascade your strategy throughout your organization 
  • Booked a time with your strategy leadership team to create your implementation plan 
  • Set up a system to track and monitor your progress

If you want to learn to how to facilitate a strategic planning session, you can check out our strategic planning course where we'll walk you through each step of this agenda to help you achieve alignment with your team. 

If you read this article and you don't want to lead the process yourself, you might want to check out how our strategic planning services can help you get  alignment and clarity with your team. 

Bonus: you get to participate instead of leading the process. Learn more about the eight main benefits of using a strategic planning facilitator for your strategy meeting. 

Want to participate in the meeting instead of having to lead it yourself?

Use a facilitator to keep the meeting focused, on track, and get your team aligned. 

Learn more

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