A contact report (also known as a minutes report) is a brief summary of a meeting. In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of writing contact reports, and how to write an effective one.
If the matter is important enough to discuss, it is important enough to document.
Quite simply, memory can be creative. Neither you, your team, nor your customers and clients should be relying solely on memory for important information. When in doubt, you can refer to your contact reports, minimizing miscommunications and unnecessary conflicts. A common phrase said here at Pixel Dreams is, “Let’s see what’s in the contact report!”
After every interaction, including meetings and phone conversations, with a customer, client or even an internal stakeholder.
The person sending the contact report should aim to send it immediately after the interaction. Definitely no longer than 24 hours. In many instances, you’ll want to write the contact report key points ahead of time, serving as a great itinerary during your meeting. Throughout the meeting, you can adjust the report accordingly, inserting new information, action items, and quotes.
Don’t shy away from using contact reports for internal purposes. It’s a great tool for managers to measure team members’ understanding of what was discussed in a meeting.
The person responsible to send out this report is dependent on who is in the meeting:
- In a client meeting: Not the client
- In an internal meeting: Not the manager / senior person
There are many ways to write a contact report. Keeping in mind the main purpose of the report, it’s simply a summary of your meeting. Below are the components of a strong contact report.
- Clear subject line
We use the following system: Client // Contact report YYYY-MM-DD
- Intro and greeting
A simple hello, it was nice meeting you today. Keep it light.
- Reminder / reader beware
You want to cover your butt. At the end of your intro, ensure to remind the readers: “Please let me know if there’s anything important missing.”
- Next steps
A simple checklist that is actionable. We typically categorize them in two: Clients and Ours.
- What we discussed
This is where the body of your summary lives. Use a combination of paragraphs, bullet points, and numbered lists. Opt out of writing the summary in chronological order based on your meeting. Rather, organize the content based on logical categories. Essentially, you want to apply some design thinking, minimizing the amount of content while maximizing the clarity of points.
Time, participants, location, attachments, etc.
- Save a template in your email drafts. Alternatively, in gmail, you can use the ‘canned email’ function. See steps here:
- From time to time, we add something crazy in our summary to see if the reader is paying attention. For example, “It was nice of Mr Worf to provide us with the much-needed dilithium crystals ensuring we hit that 9.9 warp speed we’ve been aiming for.”