How to take better meeting notes or minutes
Meeting Minutes in 9 steps
Meetings are an integral part of professional life. This is the reason why taking meeting minutes is essential in a meeting.
Why taking minutes is so important :
- A Reminder aid : make sure everyone (present and absent participants) knows what has been decided and what needs to be achieved by what date.
- A team Reference : Everyone is on the same page with a same recollections from the meeting and the same ideas about what was agreed (decisions and action plan)
- A Project Guide : As well as providing all stakeholders with an idea of what to do, the minutes help create an easy-to-follow timeline for projects.
- A Saving Time : They are a good starting point for the next meeting. Everything is recorded. No need to remake the world at every meeting.
- State Ownership – Minutes are often the only evidence of how a decision was reached and by whom.
Now, you may or may not ask yourselves:
Let’s start by explaining the difference between taking meeting minutes or meeting notes?
- Meeting notes are as the name suggests, the note of your meeting : it quickly records the idea, deadlines, decisions, and all the important information that have been discussed during the meeting
- Meeting minutes are more formal. They highlight the key issues that have been discussed, the motions proposed or voted on, and the activities to be undertaken.
The real difference is how they’re used versus the meeting. The Meeting minutes are a more formal report of the meeting while the meeting note is a shorthand and less formal documentation.
However, the intent is still the same: to document, communicate and share what has been said and decided during the meeting
Meeting minutes or notes can be defined as “written or recorded documentation that is used to inform people of what happened during the meeting and define the next planned step.“
To write an effective meeting minutes you should include:
- The names of the participants and those who would be unable attend
- Agenda items and topics for discussion
- Objective or purpose of the meeting
- Actions and tasks that have been defined and agreed to be undertaken
- A Calendar or due dates for action plans
- A Owner for every task
- A Recording of the most important points : note down major decisions
- Next steps Details : Next meeting date and time or specific next step
- Documents: images, attached files
Before the meeting:
Step 1 : Clarify the purpose of the meeting. Identify the right people who really need to participate in this meeting. An effective meeting doesn’t need too many people.
Step 2 : You need to prepare the different topics to be discussed during the meeting, how much time will be spent on each topic, and what is the purpose of each point. Take note of what you know about them in order to save time and to be able to focus on important topics during the meeting.
Step 3 : Share it with all attendees before the meeting. Also communicate what you expect from participants so that they know what to prepare.
With a clearly defined agenda, everyone knows the goals and objectives. Your agenda will also help you stay on track and stick to the allotted meeting time.
During the meeting:
Start The Meeting
First, always start on time : it respects those who show up on time and reminds late-comers that the scheduling is serious. Don’t forget to welcome attendees and thank them for their time.
Start with the agenda review : This is a good way to give participants a chance to understand all the pre-defined topics, their purpose and the desired outcomes.
Clarify the type of participation and interaction desired.
Assign a note taker if that’s not you.
Conduct The Meeting
Effective meeting minutes are a huge contributor to successful meetings. But they need to be written appropriately and distributed on time. The main problem with notes is that they take a long time to be properly written down, and that they need to be sent quickly after the meetings to let everyone know their next actions.
You must build your notes as the meeting progresses: a good way to organize your note taking is to differentiate the actions from the remarks as well as to note the different actions per person with a deadline. Periodically summarize the key points and ask for agreement to ensure that the action plan is understood by all participants. Otherwise, you might find yourself on the sidelines of the meeting too busy taking notes.
Manage meeting time : the biggest difficulty in a meeting is keeping the time allotted for the meeting. Take the time to tell and hear stories and ask for different points of view but keep the focus on ideas and objectives to stay on time. Follow your agenda without losing the goal set for each topic.
Close The Meeting
Conclude by summarizing the group’s accomplishments, action points and decisions and plan for the next step.
Sincerely thank the group members for their participation and contributions. You can also ask for a feedback.
After the meeting: The meeting minutes
Type out your note in a logical manner and not chronologically : actions, decisions, mains points and documentation by topic. Also, Adding a short summary organized per person and per project at the beginning of the minutes helps your colleagues to identify at a glance the actions they need to realize for the next meeting.
Share the meeting minutes to summarize the decision and action plan to all the participants.
For this reason, the Beesy solution automates your meeting minutes and helps you save time:
- Choose the way you want to write your meeting minutes : Email, OneNote, Beesy Note taking
- Create automatic meeting minutes from your organized notes with just one click
- Instantly send meeting minutes to participants
- The action plan is automatically extracted from your report for the daily management of your goals
Life Hacks, Tips and Tricks To Meeting Minutes
“Have you ever found yourself lost in a project? Communication is broken, and you have more questions than answers for your team? Or have you even been on a team and you can tell that communication is breaking between the product owner and the rest of the team? That is almost worse – knowing that the boat is sinking but not knowing how to stop it…”
“Have you ever left a meeting saying to yourself, “Wow, that was a great meeting! I heard some excellent ideas,” only to find, a week later, that you have forgotten what those ideas were? Unfortunately, so did everyone else. Opportunity is lost, and the issues you met to take care of are left unfinished…”
“There’s nothing more annoying than a meeting that goes on and on and on. As a manager, it’s your job to make sure people don’t go off on tangents or give endless speeches. But how can you keep people focused without being a taskmaster or squashing creativity?…”
“In theory, everyone understands that preparation can make or break an important meeting. The more work you do before you walk into the room, the more productive and efficient you’ll be. But who has the time to properly prepare?…”
“Whether you’ve been tasked with taking notes for a committee or you’ve been appointed Secretary to the Board of your organization, preparing meeting minutes doesn’t have to be an arduous task. Here are some tips and ideas that will help you get started with writing and preparing effective meeting minutes…”