The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need For Writing Effective Meeting Minutes

Are you dreading your next conference where you've been tasked to be a minutes taker? No need to worry so much! Writing effective meeting minutes doesn't have to be drudgery. In fact, it can be pretty easy once you get the hang of the process. In this guide, we're going to share some minutes-writing tips that will make your life (and your boss's life) much easier.

The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need For Writing Effective Meeting Minutes

The basics: what, why, who, and when

The board meeting is over, and it's time to get organized. You pull out your laptop and open up a blank document, but you have no idea where to start. Sound familiar? Don't worry! We're here to help: we'll give you a crash course in everything you need to know about meeting minutes. We'll cover every detail from what they are to what templates you can use to get started. By the end of this post, you'll be an expert in all things meeting minutes.

Definition

The term "meeting minutes" refers to an official record of what was discussed at a conference. They are sometimes also called "proceedings" or "verbatim records".

Since minutes serve as an official informational document, they must be accurate and concise. Proceedings can be distributed to participants after the event, or in advance of the next session. Either way, they should be circulated as soon as possible after the meetup to ensure that everyone's on the same page.

Minutes can be either formal or informal, depending on the type of event and the organization hosting it. Formal reports are usually taken at formal events, such as board meetings, and typically include a record of who was present, what was discussed, and what decisions were made. Informal reports, on the other hand, are typically taken at less formal gatherings, such as staff get-togethers, and include a summary of what was discussed rather than a detailed record.

Why are minutes important?

If you often take part in various types of meetings, you probably know that keeping track of what was discussed can be a challenge. That's where meeting minutes come in. So how do they help?

They keep track of everything discussed

This type of record includes the names of participants, topics discussed, and any decisions made, providing a written record of every detail touched upon during the event. This can be helpful if there is a disagreement about what was said or decided at the gathering.

They provide clarity on made decisions

Minutes are the summary of any meeting, reflecting the major decisions made by the participants. This can be used to hold attendees accountable for their actions and decisions, especially during large-scale events, or in cases when controversial topics are discussed.

They keep everyone in the loop

If talking about agendas, they keep everyone on track by providing a roadmap for the conversation. In the same way, minutes are a sort of meeting report that includes key details about the event. This can provide crucial information for those who were not able to attend the conference, or for those who want to review what was discussed.

They are helpful for future reference

As minutes capture what was discussed and decided during the conference, they can be especially helpful for future reference, or for making decisions about upcoming appointments. Minutes are crucial in cases where disputes or legal action may arise from the meeting's outcome. In these cases, they can be used as evidence to show what was said and agreed upon during the event.

They can help develop your skills

Surprisingly, minutes not only help to keep track of progress made but also can help boost your writing skills, develop your active listening abilities, and make you more attentive during meetings (which is always a plus!). According to Atlassian research, 91% of virtual conference participants are daydreaming during meetings, while 31% are just sleeping! Don't be like the majority.

What makes meeting minutes effective?

There's no one answer to this question - it depends on your specific needs and goals. The key is to find a system that works for you and your team. However, there are a few key things that all effective proceedings should have.

First, they should be clear and concise. Minutes should be a straightforward record of what was discussed and decided, without any extra fluff.

Second, they should be organized and easy to reference. You should be able to quickly find the information you need, whether you're looking for a specific decision or trying to track a certain topic covered in previous meeting minutes.

Finally, minutes should be action-oriented. They should include the next steps and deadlines so that everyone knows what needs to be done and when it needs to be done.

While there is no perfect formula for creating minutes, following these guidelines will help you create ones that are effective and useful for your team.

Who of the meeting participants should take the meeting minutes?

There's no single answer to this question, as it depends on the meeting purpose, size, and attendees. However, there are a few general guidelines you can follow when making your decision:

1) Consider who can best provide an accurate and unbiased account of the meetup. This person should be able to pay attention to detail and remember what was discussed. They should also be impartial to the various participants and have the skills of taking accurate notes (here are some good notes examples).

2) Think about who has the time to take on this responsibility. The person taking formal minutes should be able to dedicate the necessary time to the task, as it can be quite time-consuming.

3) Consider who has certain skills to keep the minutes organized and accessible. This person will be responsible for saving and storing the proceedings in a secure and easy-to-access place, such as shared cloud storage. Many apps, including Whoosh, Webex, and Zoom, offer this feature, so this person should have the ability to upload the received document there and share access to it with other team members.

When should you take the meeting minutes?

Just like in the previous paragraph, there's no single answer to this question either. The best time to take meeting minutes will vary depending on the type of appointment and the purpose of the report. Generally speaking, you should compile minutes whenever you need to capture the decisions made or the actions agreed upon in a gathering. Some possible options are:

  • At the end of a project planning meeting
  • After a key presentation
  • Anytime a group needs to discuss and come to a decision on something important

What is the best format for meeting minutes?

As many types of conferences exist in the world, there can be as many formats for meeting minutes (or even more, it all depends on your creativity and desire to jot down everything you can.) There is no right or wrong way to format a meeting report, but there are (as usual) a few things to help you make up your mind.

First, you'll want to make sure the chosen format is easy to read and understand. Second, you'll want it to be concise and to the point. And finally, you'll want the format to be flexible and can be adapted to various types of offline and online events:

  • Business meetings
  • Committee meetings
  • Corporate events
  • Meetings of board members
  • Virtual conferences
  • Online webinars

With these things in mind, you should be able to find a minutes format that works best for your organization.

How to take minutes?

Some people may dread attending meetings, especially video conferences since they are the major cause of fatigue. By the way, the latest research states that about 40% of US and UK residents report experiencing fatigue when it comes to work-related video communication.

Fortunately, taking meeting notes and minutes can be a great way to stay engaged, focused, and informed about what's going on in your company or organization.

If you're new to creating minutes, don't worry - it's not as difficult as it sounds. In this guide, we'll give you a quick overview of how to take minutes like a pro.

What to include in your minutes

When you're working on the creation of proceedings, it's crucial to include all the important information from the meetup while keeping your notes brief. This can be a tricky balance to strike, but there are a few gimmicks that can help you create minutes of value for all involved.

  • Include the date, time, and location of the event as well as the names of all the attendees.
  • Write down the main topics of discussion and any important decisions made during the meeting. For each topic, include a summary of what was covered.
  • If there are any action items assigned, be sure to include who is responsible for each item and when it is due.
  • Keep your minutes concise - you don't need to include everything that was said. No one wants to read a novel-length record. Just try to capture the gist of the conversation.
  • If they've been approved, add the next meeting date and time. This information will be extremely useful for those people who were unable to attend the current event.

Tips for writing meeting minutes

If you're the one tasked with writing meeting minutes, you may be wondering how to get started. Here are some tried-and-tested tips we use in our team:

1) Make sure you have a good system for taking notes

This can be anything from a digital recorder to a simple notebook and pen. Whoosh, for example, has a revolutionary feature - Mementos. It allows recording the entire virtual event, picking all its highlights, and creating a recap with all the worthy moments and a transcript. Pretty handy, huh? Whatever works best for you, make sure you can easily take down everything that is said during the meetup.

2) Devote some time to preparation

Before the meeting, find out who will be in attendance, the agenda for the gathering, and any other relevant details. Knowing your audience will help you be better prepared.

3) Get organized

Meeting minutes can be very detailed, so it's crucial to have a system for organizing all the information. This can be as simple as creating a template or using a software program specifically for minutes. For example, Evernote, nTask, or Fellow.

4) Listen carefully

Being an active listener is essential for any minute-taker. It can be tempting to half-listen while you're making notes, but it's important to really pay attention to the discussion so you don't miss anything significant.

5) Take meeting notes

Yes, it may seem right for you to compile meeting minutes after the event is over. But in fact, if you take notes during the appointment, you'll have a lot less work later and won't have to strain your brain to remember who said what and when.

6) Use a meeting minutes template

There's no need to start from scratch when you're taking meeting minutes - there are plenty of great templates out there that you can use. Simply find a template that you like and that you can customize to fit your needs and the type of meeting.

7) Don't wait too long to compile the minutes

Try to do that as soon after the meeting as possible, while everything is still fresh in your mind. Two golden rules are:

  • Transcribe the discussion points into full sentences within 24 hours after the end of the event.
  • Distribute the meeting minutes to all attendees within 48 hours after the end of the event.

How to distribute your minutes

Once you've taken great meeting minutes, you'll want to make sure they get seen by the right people. You can do this by emailing them out, posting them in a shared space, or even creating a digital newsletter. Whichever method you choose, make sure you have a system in place that allows everyone to easily access and use your jottings.

Here are a few tips for distributing your meeting minutes:

  • Make sure you have a list of who needs to receive the minutes
  • Email the minutes out to everyone on the list
  • Post the minutes in a shared space, like Google Drive or a shared server
  • Create a digital newsletter with the meeting minutes as one of the featured items

By following these tips, you can make sure your meeting minutes are distributed widely and put to good use.

7 free meeting minutes templates for a more productive workplace

1) Formal meeting minutes template

 

MEETING TYPE

DATE:

TIME:



PARTICIPANTS:

  • A
  • B
  • C

LOCATION:

 

GOALS:

  • A
  • B
  • C

 

DISCUSSION NOTES:

  • Point 1

[Description]

  • Point 2

[Description]

  • Point 3

[Description]

 

NEXT MEETING:

Next appointment is scheduled for [time] [date].

2) Informal meeting minutes template

 

MEETING TYPE

DATE:


TIME:

MEETING GOALS:

  • A
  • B
  • C

TOPICS DISCUSSED:

  • A
  • B
  • C

ACTIONS & DECISIONS

  • A

Assignee:

Deadline:

  • B

Assignee:

Deadline:

  • C

Assignee:

Deadline:

RISKS & ISSUES:

  • A
  • B
  • C

MEETING ASSESSMENT:

  • What went well?
  • What did we like?
  • What could we change next time?

3) Simple minutes template

 

MEETING TYPE

DATE:

TIME:

GOALS:

  • GOAL 1
  • GOAL 2
  • GOAL 3

AGENDA:

  • POINT 1
  • POINT 2
  • POINT 3

NEXT STEPS:

  • STEP 1

Assignee:

Due date:

  • STEP 2

Assignee:

Due date:

  • STEP 3

Assignee:

Due date:

4) Board meeting minutes template

 

BOARD MEETING MINUTES

Call to Order:

A board meeting of [company] was held on [date] at the [place]. It started at [time] and was presided by [name], with [name] as secretary.

Attendance:

Voting members:

  • A
  • B
  • C

Guests:

  • A
  • B
  • C

Members not in attendance:

  • A
  • B
  • C

Approval of minutes:

A motion to approve was made on [date] by [name] and seconded by [name].

Officer’s Reports:

CEO’s Report:

  • Item 1
  • Item 2
  • Item 3

Other Reports:

[Name of department] Report:

  • Item 1
  • Item 2
  • Item 3

Main Decisions:

  • Item 1
  • Item 2
  • Item 3

Announcements:

  • The next regular Board meeting will be held on [date].

Adjournment:

With no further topics to cover, the meeting ended at [time].

 

5) One-on-one meeting minutes template

 

ANNUAL PULSE-CHECK

Questions:

  • What are your highlights since the previous pulse-check?
  • What could be improved?

How satisfied are you with your work?

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • What makes you feel like that?

Next steps:

  • Point 1
  • Point 2
  • Point 3

Other updates to share:

  • Item 1
  • Item 2
  • Item 3

6) Team meeting minutes template

 

WEEKLY TEAM MEETING

Agenda:

  • Celebrate wins:
  • Point 1
  • Point 2
  • Point 3
  • Data to review:
  • Point 1
  • Point 2
  • Point 3
  • Current updates:
  • Point 1
  • Point 2
  • Point 3
  • Discussion topics:
  • Point 1
  • Point 2
  • Point 3

Action Items:

  • Item 1

Assignee:

Due date:

  • Item 2

Assignee:

Due date:

  • Item 3

Assignee:

Due date:

Rate This Meeting:

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

7) All-staff meeting minutes template

 

ANNUAL ALL-STAFF MEETING

Company Vision:

  •  

Key Metrics:

  • Item 1
  • Item 2
  • Item 3

Customer/Employee Updates:

  • Item 1
  • Item 2
  • Item 3

Deep Dive: Important Topics & Large-Scale Changes:

  • Item 1
  • Item 2
  • Item 3

Ask Me Anything (AMA)

 

Appreciation Reward

  • Reward:

Team member:

  • Reward:

Team member:

  • Reward:

Team member:

 

Bonus: meeting types and templates for them

  • Board meeting
  • Team meeting
  • Staff meeting
  • In-person meeting
  • Planning meeting

What are your next steps?

Writing effective meeting minutes doesn't have to be a pain. By following a few simple tips, you can make your life less stressful and ensure your minutes are clear, concise, and helpful. This guide provides everything you need to know to get started, including how to format your minutes, what to include, and how to make them readable. So next time you're tasked with creating minutes, remember this guide - and make your life a lot easier.

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