Setting Your Agenda

By Jessica Munson

Here at the Writing Center, successful appointment begin with a set of goals, or what we call an agenda. Together with your consultant, you can set an agenda outlining your goals for the session. In this blog post, let’s focus on agenda setting for a successful session. What is even the point of agenda setting? Why spend valuable time writing down what you’re going to do?

Purposes of the Agenda

  • Writing is a process, which can sometimes get discouraging. Realistically, this process isn’t going to be completed in one session. Through a physical agenda, you can end an appointment feeling that you’ve accomplished a specific goal, even if more goals await. For example, if you are just starting a larger research project, focusing on annotating strategies will get the research started, so that you can move onto outlining and drafting the paper. Achieving that specific goal can help you take the writing process one step at a time without becoming discouraged.
  • Writing an agenda can help make your tasks clearer. Often large tasks seem much more doable if we can break them down and write a list of what you want to do. For example, if you want to integrate source material into your essay, you could talk about research methods, strategies for effective paraphrasing, accurate signal phrasing, proper in-text citations, etc., and each of these smaller steps can be addressed in pursuit of your larger goal.
  • Agendas help your consultant understand what you’re expecting and gives them a space to ask questions. This is where your consultant might ask you to specify or clarify your goals. For example, if you want to work on flow, your consultant might ask for more specificity. Does flow mean organization, transitions, cohesion, or something else to you? That way, the agenda, and in turn your goals, can be more defined.

Now that we can see that agendas are useful in sessions, how exactly do we set agendas?

  1. Your consultant will ask what you want to accomplish in this session.
  2. You’ll both discuss how to narrow down or clarify specific goals.
  3. Finally, you’ll prioritize the goals.

Important note: Agenda setting is client led and the final agenda should be something determined by you; how a session proceeds should be based on you’d like to accomplish.

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