Meeting minutes, also known as minutes of meeting (MoM) or meeting notes are written record of a meeting and are used to document, share and reference the entire meeting. Previously, we have talked about the importance of meeting minutes and have shared guidelines on writing and sharing meeting notes. In this article, we will share tips on how to capture and circulate meeting notes efficiently.
In general, meeting minutes should capture the following six elements -
- Date and Time
- Key Decisions
- Action Items
You can go over these elements in further detail here.
So, let’s get tothe main topic for today - How to capture meeting minutes effectively? We break down this process into three steps:
- How to prepare for taking notes before the meeting?
- How to take valuable notes during the meeting?
- How to review and share meeting minutes after the meeting?
How to prepare for taking notes before the meeting?
The process of capturing meeting minutes starts even before the meeting has begun. There are two important questions that should be addressed before the meeting to ensure a productive meeting.
- Who will write the meeting notes? Every meeting should have an individual responsible to share meeting notes after the meeting. Not only does this help drive ownership for the “official” note taker, this also eases other attendees, including meeting owner, to not multitask and focus on having an effective discussion.
- What is the agenda? It is widely known that an efficient meeting begins with a clear agenda, yet based on a study conducted by Readytalk, 63% of the meeting are conducted without a pre-planned meeting agenda. Creating and sharing agenda ahead of the meeting gives the attendees an opportunity to come prepared for the discussion. For note-taker, having access to agenda drives focus while taking notes without being randomized by irrelevant ideas or discussion.
How to take valuable notes during the meeting?
There are three key components to take effective meeting notes during the meeting.
- Note taking application: Many people prefer old-school way of taking notes using notepad/pen while others prefer a reliable note-taking application. While this is a personal choice, more people are moving to app based note taking because of the added flexibility. Most meeting discussions do not follow any specific order or template. It is the responsibility of the note-taker to organize the discussion in alignment with the agenda and highlight meeting outcomes - key decisions, action items and next steps. There are many note-taking applications available - Loopin helps you capture and share meeting outcomes seamlessly with your stakeholders.
- Taking notes: Not everything that is discussed in the meeting is relevant for minutes and hence, to ensure that meeting note are relevant, it is critical for the note taker to have a meeting agenda for reference. Depending upon the familiarity of the note-taker to the meeting content, it might be helpful to scribble short sentences and capture the essence of what the speaker is trying to convey vs. making detailed notes. While capturing meeting notes, it will be useful to categorize the content in three buckets - Notes, Key Decisions, and Action Items. It is a good idea to prevent lengthy notes and instead have clear and concise meeting summary
- Clarifications and questions: As mentioned earlier, effective meeting minutes are critical for the success of the meeting. Hence, it is always a good idea to pause the discussion with any clarifying questions or doubts before the meeting ends. If given an opportunity, feel free to summarize the meeting (highlighting key decisions, action items & next steps along with owners) to the group to get early feedback before sending out the official meeting minutes.
How to review and share meeting minutes after the meeting?
Once the meeting is over, collate and share meeting notes at the earliest to ensure relevance of the content. Post meeting, review meeting notes while the content is still fresh to ensure the completeness of the notes. At this stage, it is important to reword your notes to be direct, succinct and eliminate ambiguity. Meeting minutes are designed to drive projects forward by documenting key decisions and drive accountability among stakeholders. Hence, it is essential to outline action items and next steps clearly. If needed, the note-taker can also reach out to other attendees to refer to their personal meeting notes to remove any inconsistencies.
In some meetings, the meeting owner or attendees might have used supporting material like powerpoint presentation, documents, external links etc. These documents, if critical to build context for the meeting, should be included with meeting minutes.
Once the notes and supporting material are collated, these should be shared immediately using your preferred channel of communication.