Meetings are not “out of sight, out of mind” affairs – or they shouldn’t be, because after the meeting is when the action really starts. To get the most out of meetings, it’s important to have clear meeting minutes.
A Guide to Taking Better Meeting Minutes [Infographic & Template]Linh Tran, Monday 20 June 2016 | Reading time: unknown
Why you should take meeting minutes
The most obvious argument for taking meeting minutes is that people are forgetful. You might remember every detail right after the meeting, but with time your memory will get fuzzy and details can get distorted. Having meeting minutes ensures that you do not forget or miss important decisions and actions. Meeting minutes serve as a source of information for the project team which they can refer back to when they are unsure of their responsibilities in the project. Meeting minutes also make sure that everyone is on the same page, and that the most important information is available to team members who could not attend the meeting. Meeting minutes are also important reference points for related projects and activities.
Meeting Minute Checklist
Different organizations and departments will have different requirements for what meeting minutes should contain and how detailed they have to be. However, there are some universal points that every meeting minute should include:
- Basic information: Meeting/project name, meeting location, date of meeting, start and end time of meeting
- List of attendees & absentees: Mark who was present and who was absent, and reasons for absence
- Objective of the meeting: purpose of meeting
- Agenda and discussion topics: Clarify major discussion points and add additional notes if necessary
- Major decisions: Note down major decisions
- Action items: Record the next steps and actions that need to be taken; specify responsibilities and deadlines
- Details on the next meeting: Make note of when next meeting will happen
Attachments: Attach all relevant documents, alternatively include a link to where documents are stored
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The process of taking meeting minutes
1. Before the meeting
- Clarify expectations with meeting leader or moderator, e.g. how detailed should the minutes be or whether it should include names
- Create a meeting template. Here’s a free template for you: Meeting Minutes Template
- Add as much information to the template as you can: e.g. objective, agenda points, attendees etc.
2. During the meeting
- Take attendance: Tick off attendees; mark absentees and include the reason for their absence
- Do not record everything in detail, such as who said what, only record the decisions and actionable items, deadlines and milestones
- Record decisions and action items directly in the template, fill in details and discussions later
3. After the meeting
- Transcribe your meeting notes right after the meeting, as it will still be fresh in your mind
- Review notes, add comments to notes, and clarify things you are unsure of with the meeting leader or individual participants as soon as possible, ideally less than 24 hours after the meeting
- Obtain copies of all documents used in the meeting, including PowerPoint presentations, reports, brochures etc.
- Share the meeting minutes with participants as soon as possible
- Keep meeting minutes concise: reader should be able to see most important information (decisions, action items) at a glance
- Keep a copy of your (more detailed) meeting notes
- If information was captured on a flipchart or whiteboard (e.g. mind maps), take a photo of it instead of copying it by hand
Download a free meeting minutes template.