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True-False Test on Meeting Notes

Do you get stuck when writing meeting notes and minutes because you don't know how much to include? Do you record everything hoping not to miss anything?

Take this true-false test to help you consider what belongs in final meeting notes and minutes. 

True or False:

  1. Generally meeting notes should be a transcript of the meeting.
  2. It is usually a good idea to tell who said what in final meeting notes.
  3. If an attendee tells an interesting story or anecdote during the meeting, you should record it to capture the flavor of the meeting. 
  4. If the group agrees on a course of action, you should record the decision.
  5. If the group agrees on action items, you should capture the actions, the individuals who will handle them, and any deadlines.
  6. If a presenter at the meeting shows slides, you should record the main points from the slides. 
  7. If a presenter explains the steps in a procedure during a meeting, you should include the explanation in the meeting notes.
  8. If the meeting leader introduces a new employee at a meeting, you should include details of the introduction in your notes.
  9. If an attendee announces an event, you should capture the details of the event in the meeting notes.
  10. If you follow parliamentary procedure (Robert's Rules of Order), you should record both who makes a motion and who seconds it.   

How many answers did you label as true?

Of course, you can handle meeting notes many different ways. But my experience suggests that only two items are true. Can you figure out which two before scrolling down to read my answers?




Here are answers and brief explanations:

  1. False. Nothing needs to be recorded word for word except motions. 
  2. False. With few exceptions, who said what should not be included.
  3. False. The note taker's job is not to capture the flavor of the meeting. It is to capture what happened.
  4. True. Decisions belong in meeting notes.
  5. True. Agreed upon actions belong in meeting notes, with due dates and persons responsible. 
  6. False. If slide content would be useful to those reading the notes, attach the slides or provide a link to them.
  7. False. The steps in a procedure should be included in a procedure manual, not in meeting notes.
  8. False. Only the fact that the introduction took place belongs in the notes.
  9. False. The event details should be shared through email, a web calendar, etc., not in meeting notes.
  10. False. Only the name of the person making a motion belongs in minutes, according to Robert's Rules of Order.

My answers follow the philosophy that meeting minutes should tell what happened–not what was said.

Which of my answers agree with yours? Feel free to share your views.

Take our online self-study course Meeting Notes Made Easy to gain a greater understanding of what belongs in meeting notes and how to capture it. 

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Posted by Lynn Gaertner Johnson
By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English. She grew up in suburban Chicago, Illinois.

4 comments on “True-False Test on Meeting Notes”

  • Hm, to me it appears “what happened” is exactly the same as “what was said” if there was no fight at meeting. :))

    I believe notes should contain consequences (“will/should happen”) for all parties, so my answer was 4,5,9. However, after reading your answer I agreed that 9th is surplus.


  • Hi, Alex. I like to be at meetings where no one fights!

    Let me share an example to illustrate the difference between notes that share what happened and those that tell what was said.

    What happened: “Dr. Ames introduced Karen Flynn, the new director.”

    What was said: “Dr. Ames introduced Karen Flynn, who is the new director. Ms. Flynn comes to us from . . . where she . . . . Her job here is to . . . . She will . . . . ”

    Do you see what I mean?

    Often people who take notes include lots of unnecessary details when they record what was said.


  • Hi, Lynn!

    Thank you, I see the difference now.

    However, in my opinion both example sentences are unnecessary because it is enough to include “Karen Flynn, the new director” to the participants list. I used to interpret meeting minutes as “to do list” which has been agreed by all parties.


  • Hi, Alex. Interesting point! It sounds as though you have very slimmed down meeting notes.

    Often meeting notes need to be more than a to-do list. They need to include what the group has decided and what the group did, for example, to approve a budget change.

    I have seen project meeting notes lately that do seem to be a list of to-dos. Those kinds of notes may leave the group wondering why something is being done.

    Thanks for sharing your experience!


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