Do you want to be more efficient? Think about your meetings and the meeting notes that follow them:
When our meetings aren’t effective, we waste valuable time figuring out what we are trying to accomplish in them.
When our meeting minutes aren’t effective, we waste the time we spent in meetings. Without good meeting notes or minutes, we may not remember or recognize:
- What we decided in the meeting
- What we accomplished in the meeting
- What we agreed to in terms of next steps (action items)
And when we can’t remember the items above, we end up going in different directions and then meeting again for the same original purpose!
(Definition: Notes and minutes are the same thing. Minutes are more formal and are often required by organizational bylaws.)
To avoid wasting your time spent in meetings, be sure your notes and minutes answer these 10 questions:
- When was the meeting?
- Who attended?
- Who did not attend? (Include this information if it matters.)
- What topics were discussed?
- What was decided?
- What actions were agreed upon?
- Who is to complete the actions, by when?
- Were materials distributed at the meeting? If so, are copies or a link available?
- Is there anything special the reader of the minutes should know or do?
- Is a follow-up meeting scheduled? If so, when? where? why?
Minutes need headings so that readers can skim for the information they need. Your template may include these:
Actions Agreed Upon
Date and Time
Dos and Don’ts:
Do write minutes soon after the meeting–preferably within 48 hours. That way, those who attended can be reminded of action items, and those who did not attend will promptly know what happened.
Don’t skip writing minutes just because everyone attended the meeting and knows what happened. Meeting notes serve as a record of the meeting long after people forget what happened.
Don’t describe all the “he said, she said” details unless those details are very important. Record topics discussed, decisions made, and action items.
Don’t include any information that will embarrass anyone (for example, “Then Terry left the room in tears”).
Do use positive language. Rather than describing the discussion as heated or angry, use passionate, lively, or energetic–all of which are just as true as the negative words.
To learn more about taking great meeting notes, take my online self-study course Meeting Notes Made Easy.