Writing effective meeting minutes can seem tedious, but it doesn’t have to be. When you know what to include and what to omit, your meeting notes can be powerful and effective tools for your team. Meeting minutes can help you share and disseminate information throughout your company, helping keep everyone informed about what your organization is up to.
What are meeting minutes?
Meeting minutes are a written record that documents the decisions and action items of a meeting.
In large companies and for board meetings, minutes are a legal requirement. They provide legal protection and can include due diligence to document ethical and fair practices within an organization.
Meeting notes can also help your entire organization keep everyone in the loop. This is especially helpful for anyone absent from a meeting. It’s handy to keep previous meeting minutes to help your team make organizational decisions in the future.
In a nutshell, minutes are:
- A record of an organization’s decisions, actions, and conversations
- They document deadlines and assignments
- Those absent from a meeting can use minutes to know what happened
Things to keep in mind when writing meeting minutes
Making your minutes easy to read is important for your team members. Keeping them simple and avoiding long, complicated sentences helps. Overall, to ensure meeting minutes are high quality, keep them:
- Written in plain English
When to write the minutes
This depends on your meeting style. If the meeting is very busy and demands your full attention, an audio recording is an easy option. If you’re a quick typist and great at multitasking, take notes at the time and edit the minutes after the meeting.
Use the meeting agenda to guide your minute-taking
An agenda gives your meeting direction. It helps the meeting run smoothly and keeps the momentum going. Best of all, the agenda can also be used as an outline for your minute taking, using each agenda item as a heading. So if you’re taking the minutes, bring the agenda along to help guide your note-taking.
What to include in your meeting minutes
Names of attendees
Sounds like school? Taking attendance is as easy as writing down who is present. If your organization uses an electronic meeting reminder tool, use the list to take attendance so you don’t have to write every name down yourself.
Date and time
Pretty obvious right? The date and time of a meeting is really important so the notes can be used as an accurate reference. Plus, the date allows you to put the minutes into a sequence so you know how they fit into your organization’s timeline in reference to other meeting minutes.
The goal of the meeting
Pretty obvious right? The date and time of a meeting are really important so the notes can be used as an accurate reference. Plus, the date allows you to put the minutes into a sequence so you know how they fit into your organization’s timeline in reference to other meeting minutes.
You don’t need to write everything in the minutes, but action items are vital. Any decisions and all actions need to be documented, especially any major decisions or conversations around recommendations or challenges within your organization.
Documents & the next meeting
Did anyone reference any documents during the meeting? If so, don’t forget to add them to the minutes. If the document is huge, just include a link.
Also, include the date and time of the next meeting so everyone knows when they’re expected to have completed their action items.
Meeting minutes can seem boring but they’re really handy when they’re done right. Keep them simple and ensure you include all five of the above items. Once you have all five, your minutes are ready to go.