One of the (not so) secret ingredients to a successful meeting is taking effective minutes.
A productive meeting consists of many parts. This means that you must have a strong agenda and the flow of the meeting must be smooth. You must also make sure that the meeting guests are engaged and included in the discussion.
And throughout all of this, meeting minutes must be taken.
This is so that every meeting guest knows what happened during the meeting. They are also a useful way of noting down what tasks need to be done next.
But a lot can happen during a meeting. Writing down every single thing that is said might not be the most efficient way of taking minutes.
So how do you take meeting minutes?
Before we find out what steps you need to take to create effective minutes, we can first have a look at what meeting minutes consist of.
PS: Check out Meetric – a tool that lets you easily write down meeting minutes with anyone in the meeting, and automatically connects that information to the right meeting in your calendar. Talking points, decisions, actions — nothing gets lost, accountability gets a boost!
What Exactly Are Meeting Minutes?
In a nutshell, meeting minutes are a record of what happened during a meeting.
For those who were not able to attend the meeting, they can refer to the meeting minutes. This gives them a sense of what went on during the discussions. It also provides a document for people to refer to when making decisions in the future.
However, meeting minutes are not transcripts.
Don’t be misled by the word ‘minutes’! This does not mean you have to record every point that was brought up every single minute.
There is little point to writing down every small thing that occurred during the meeting. If you do this, you run the risk of overloading readers with information.
Doing this will also crowd out information that is actually important and useful.
Instead, meeting minutes should provide a concise but relevant summary of the main points that were discussed. They also include what next steps should be taken. These actionable next steps are usually agreed upon during the meeting itself.
How to Prepare to Take Minutes
If you have been assigned to take meeting minutes, don’t panic!
The first thing you should do is have a look at the meeting agenda. A strong, clear agenda is often the first step to a productive meeting.
An agenda will inform guests of what will be discussed. By providing an overview of what needs to be done, the agenda guides the flow of the meeting.
It thus provides a useful outline for minutes takers to refer to before the meeting even begins.
Depending on what the meeting is about, you might want to prepare a template for the minutes.
Preparing a layout saves you precious time. Creating a new document every time you take notes is not efficient. By using a template, you can know what information you should include at a glance.
The best way to decide what to include in your minutes template is to check with your team leader. Different teams might have their own set of guidelines on what information is necessary.
Your template, or outline, can include important details like the different agenda points for the meeting. Leave some space below each point for you to record your notes.
Then, when the meeting happens, you can simply note down what was discussed for each agenda point.
Finally, before the meeting starts, you should also familiarize yourself with the meeting guests. This is so that you can attribute each statement to the correct speaker.
What to Include in Meeting Minutes
It can be difficult to decide exactly what to include.
However, there is a good rule of thumb for any set of meeting minutes.
If someone who did not attend the meeting reads the minutes, they should be able to understand what happened and what they have to do next.
In general, meeting minutes should answer the following questions:
- When did the meeting start and end?
- Where did the meeting take place? Was it in real life or over video call?
- Who attended the meeting? Who was supposed to attend, but did not show up?
- What was the decision made for each agenda item?
- What are the next steps for each meeting?
Now, let’s go to the micro-level of taking meeting minutes.
Like mentioned before, minutes do not literally mean that you have to record every minute of the meeting.
But you should make sure to record main points that were covered during the meeting.
These are usually tied to agenda points. Remember to record everything that is important. Do not leave things out on purpose. Keep in mind that the minutes are supposed to be an objective, neutral account of the meeting.
You should also record the decisions that were made during the meeting. As soon as a decision is made — for example, regarding a new hire — note it down.
Another important thing is to record the actionable next steps that were decided on. This means keeping track of what next steps each person in the team has to take after the meeting ends. Having a to-do list like this in your minutes is important so that everyone knows what they have to do.
If there were points in your outline that were not addressed, do not be afraid to clarify them with the team.
What to Do After the Meeting
So the meeting has ended, and you have your minutes done.
While everything is still fresh in your mind, the first thing you should do is neaten up your minutes.
It can be tough recording minutes while taking part in the meeting. This means that you could have formatting inconsistencies or spelling and grammar errors. Spend a few minutes cleaning these up. This makes it easier for others to read.
Then, give your minutes one last proof-read and submit it to your supervisor.
And you’re done!
Take Your Meeting Minutes to the Next Level
Here is a meeting minutes sample that we have prepared in Meetric:
The sample includes all the points touched on in this article. You can use it as a guide or outline for your future minutes.
But taking minutes can still be a tedious experience.
This is where Meetric comes in.
Take your meeting minutes to the next level with Meetric, a tool which helps you hold productive meetings.
Meetric is completely free. It helps you capture meeting minutes, notes, and tasks with ease. For those who use Google Meet and Calendar, there is a Chrome extension that seamlessly integrates with your video calls and schedules too.
Taking minutes does not have to be a painful experience. With Meetric, you can turbo charge your meetings into productive and efficient discussions.