Want meetings to be more productive? Well, effective note-taking for meeting minutes could dramatically help.
Taking effective minutes of the meeting is a process, and it starts before the meeting begins. Effective note-taking needs the right planning and key focus areas in mind so that even if the meeting digresses, your notes don't.
We are used to attending different types of meetings at work but all of them have one thing in common- as soon as we are done with them, we tend to forget a huge chunk of information that was shared just moments before even though we might feel like we remember it well.
Hence it is common to revisit the meeting notes later to collect the important bits and parts. This makes it very important to have efficient minutes or note-taking protocol in every meeting.
It is also an effective way for the companies to keep a record of everything that is discussed and accomplished in an official meeting.
What Are Meeting Minutes And Why Are They Important?
Meeting minutes keep the record of what actions were taken in the meeting, what important points were discussed, and what were the inputs from various employees. All this is saved for the sole purpose of revisiting them later.
Minutes capture the purpose of each meeting in an extremely structured and easy-to-grasp manner.
There are multiple professionals working in a company and most of them have their plates full of the day’s task. It is impossible for anyone to take mental notes of official things including all the actions and decisions with precision. This is where meeting minutes shine as they are super important to keep the important bits of information safe and look back for any future reference or a follow-up.
Why Are Meeting Minutes Important?
Although it seems like the process of taking minutes of the meeting can take a huge amount of time, in reality, they end up saving time for the business.
For example, if you end up in a situation where you and your colleagues have a different understanding of what was discussed during the meeting you might need to repeat the meeting if there was no record of it. So it is better to record it in the form of meeting notes.
Tips for Taking Meetings Minutes Effectively
Taking meeting minutes is not just noting everything down that is being said in a meeting room. Meeting minutes are only effective when recorded properly and in a style that can be easily referred back, distributed to other people, or quickly understood by anyone just by glancing over it.
To keep your meeting minutes effective and seamless here are some of the minute-taking tips and techniques.
1. Start With The Essential Details
Start with very basic details of the meeting to give it a structure and an overview which can clear out a lot of questions easily at one glance.
Also, make sure to include as and when required:
- Date and time of the meeting
- Location of the meeting
- Purpose of the meeting
- Names of attendees and non-attendees who were invited but could not attend
- Agenda Points
These points should be used as a template to record more info and context should be given inside each point.
2. Use a Standard Template
By making a more standardized process we can create a template for meeting minutes that can be just populated in each meeting. Consistency in minutes can be a great time saver when there are huge numbers of notes floating around.
Also, anyone reading the meeting minutes can quickly jump to a specific section without wondering where it is written because of the standard and easy-to-use template.
For making a good template, just write down the basic essentials that need to be recorded, and as the requirement increases keep adding some more points. It should not be very complex but short, to the point, and concise.
3. Write Meeting Minutes While You Still Remember Them
This one is a no brainer. We all have limited capacity to remember information and while juggling through a lot of tasks in meetings it is obvious to start forgetting some bits of information gradually.
It is best to write meeting minutes as the meeting happens rather than waiting for the conversation to get over or for someone to take a pause. For writing minutes any online document editor or a note-taking app can be used. Fireflies is one such app that allows you to get rid of the traditional method of note-taking.
4. Just The Facts
It is the note-taking person’s responsibility to understand what is someone’s opinion and what is a clear fact. Meeting notes should not contain someone’s personal views, instead of all the facts that stand still and can be easily verified.
Sticking to facts not only helps in a stable growth but keeps professional clashes at bay.
5. Record Actions and Owners
During meetings, a lot of actions are taken and tasks are delegated to the people. Note down all the actions and the people these tasks are assigned to.
Minutes should also contain all the deadlines and previously accomplished tasks that need to be used for a review in future meetings.
6. Include Images
In meetings, a lot of stuff is drawn on boards for easy explanation and discussion. Simply take a snap of it and insert them into documents. Other people will love it as they can get an extremely accurate context of the meeting discussion.
Photos are great at explaining what was exactly discussed as compared to you trying to explain the same in words.
7. Listen More, Summarize Later
It is very crucial to listen more at the time of the meeting to understand what is being said and exactly in which context. If you keep writing as someone is speaking it can make things unclear.
Try to listen clearly and openly to all the discussion and summarize it later if required or wait until someone ends their point. This, along with other meeting etiquettes are important to be followed in every meeting, be it online or offline.
8. Remain Neutral
Meeting minutes should not include any type of biases regarding certain people or what ‘he said, she said’ conversation. Notes should be more towards meeting agenda, what was discussed, actions taken, and what the next steps are.
Minutes should clearly reflect on the meeting without any biases towards any employee or a certain conversation. Do not add any unnecessary details and keep it professional.
9. Be Ready and Organized Before The Meeting Starts
Make sure whoever is assigned to take meeting minutes is ready before the meeting commences.
They should be aware and well versed of all the tools or software or devices they would need for recording or highlighting key points during the meeting. This is one of the most important ways of increasing the meeting productivity.
This will make the person more efficient with better productivity, and cause no delay during the meeting. All the protocols of recording and organizing should be decided in advance.
During the meeting, you might be writing everything and anything but at the end of it, a concise and clear summary of the meeting should be presented. It works well to provide an overview of key decisions and actions taken during the meeting.
11. Proofread Your Minutes
Before sending the meeting minutes to everyone they should be proofread by different people to make sure everything is correct and the language used in the notes is in the correct tone. These notes are extremely important from an organization's point of view. They must not contain any errors, be it lingual or factual.
12. Send The Minutes Quickly
Ideally, after the meeting, meeting minutes should be sent to people who were not present, people who are in important decision-making positions, and the people that might benefit from the information discussed. It should be prepared and sent within a few hours. Before sending, all the above-mentioned checks should be done and it could be also approved by the meeting organizer or the main host.
The task of taking meetings minutes is extremely tedious and is heavily dependent on human intervention. This increases the chances of error and miscommunication. To avoid this and make this whole process as seamless and error-free as possible, there are a bunch of tools available out there that can be used to enhance the experience.
Last 2 Cents
With these meeting minute taking tips for beginners you can get started for more efficient notes taking process.
Minute taking is a very crucial job for any business. All the previous minutes can be utilized to make sure the next meeting is not repeating the same agenda and can be continued from what has been discussed previously. This keeps the business moving in the right direction.