How to Take Clear Meeting Minutes - A Checklist

Ariane von Berg, Tuesday 28 October 2014 | Reading time: unknown

Meeting Minutes Checklist and Free Template | InLoox

Photo by Epicantus (CC0 1.0)

What is one of the essential key factors in successful project management? Ensuring that everyone involved is up to date on the latest project related information. A crucial aspect of conducting effective meetings is taking meeting minutes. Here is a checklist that helps you capture essential information from meetings and put your meeting minutes in the right format for best results.

Why is it important to take meeting minutes?

When conducting a meeting, do you get many volunteers to take the minutes? It is one of the less popular tasks, but an important and necessary one. Every project meeting should result in actionable items that someone on the team is responsible for. The minutes capture these actions and the relevant details like milestones and deadlines, acting like an accountability tool and driving forward the project’s progress. This also makes them a very useful review document later, when it comes to measuring a project’s progress. Especially for those who couldn’t attend the meeting, the minutes provide structure to the decision making process that took place during the meeting.

Are there different types of meeting minutes?

Yes, there are various types of minutes and depending on the nature of the meeting, different types are appropriate. The three most important categories for project management:

  • Resolution/decision minutes: Short, to the point record of the decisions that have been made
  • Process minutes: Longer, includes details on the decision making process
  • A hybrid form of the above: Controversial discussions are recorded in detail, while for other topics the capturing the results is sufficient

While the resolution minutes are certainly the most time-saving option and the process minutes their more time-consuming equivalent, in most cases a hybrid form is what you want to go for. As the meeting moderator you should make sure to determine who is responsible for taking the meeting minutes well before the meeting date. This will not only save you valuable meeting time but it allows for proper preparation on the part of the attendee who takes the minutes.

Taking clear meeting minutes

Whether you take minutes the old-fashioned way with pen and memo pad or you are more comfortable using computer devices like a laptop or note pad, here are the Must Have Items for your meeting minutes:

  • Header, including type of meeting, name of the organization, date, time, and venue
  • Outline,based on the meeting agenda, leaving plenty of white space for the notes
  • Attendee list, you can check off the names of people as they come in or pass it around
  • Seating chart, map the seating arrangement with names to know who said what
  • Get the gist,don’t record every comment but concentrate on essentials of every discussion, making sure you have enough notes for a concise summary later
    • Issues discussed?
    • Major points raised?
    • Decisions taken.

At the end of the meeting, take pictures of notes made on a flipchart or whiteboard instead of trying to copy it in writing. This saves you time and you avoid making mistakes in the copying process. You can easily attach the image to your meeting documentation. Moreover, have the minutes approved by the chairperson of the meeting.

No matter which method of minute taking you choose, it is important to go over your notes after the meeting. Don’t wait too long to do so, you want your and the meeting attendees’ memory to be fresh. Ideally, you should send out the minutes the day of the meeting or at the latest within 24 hours after the meeting took place. Ensure that all the meeting participants and also everyone affected by the decisions made in the meeting are included in the mailing list.

Chances are that you might have to take minutes more than once as meetings happen on a regular basis in every organization and project. You can simplify the process of taking meeting minutes by introducing a standard form. Here is a free meeting minutes template for download.

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