Many of us have experienced the power of storytelling. For centuries, this is how people have learned and come together. According to an article by the Harvard Business Review on “How To Run a Meeting”, this desire for meetings goes all the way back to our primitive hunting days as fundamentally social beings. When we’re at meetings (and avoiding eye contact with the closest clock), we can’t rely on our memories alone to remember information – our brains can get distracted and wander off into space. However, writing constructive meeting minutes helps keep everyone on the same page and how to proceed moving forward. Below is a guide on how to write effective meeting minutes and become the MVP of note-taking.
What Are Meeting Minutes?
Have you ever been called on in a meeting, only to be jolted out of some daydream where you’re sipping a margarita on a beach, and staring blank-faced at your boss? Well, join the club. There’s a common conception that people generally despise meetings. How can we make them better? We suggest two things: add some humour and write excellent meeting minutes. According to Jody Urquhart, a motivational and keynote speaker, adding humour to your meetings keeps people focused. Meeting Minutes are a quick way to reference ideas, key points, goals, data, deadlines and any other valuable information that’s important after your meeting.
So, how do you write effective meeting minutes?
Step #1: Set An Agenda
Have you ever finished a meeting and immediately forgotten half of what you’d just heard? It’s actually more common than you think. Having a specific and realistic agenda helps guide discussions and allots time for each key point. According to one Forbes article, setting an agenda keeps people focused and saves time. In your minutes agenda you can include:
- Information that’s specific and realistic to the scope of the meeting
- Results-oriented topics that help guide discussion
- Allot times for each key point
Step #2: Format Your Minutes Using a Template
Before you start taking notes, it’s important to understand what information your company needs you to record. If you’re required to note specific details, then make sure they’re included. Generally, your organization will need the meeting minutes to include the following:
- Date and time
- Attendees and absentees
- Corrections and additions to the previous meeting’s minutes
- Instructions and directions about agenda items including:
- Actionables and deliverables
- Next steps
- Voting outcomes
- Topics that are accepted or rejected
- Next meeting date and time
Are you looking to get started with meeting minutes or for a better way to do it?
Get our free Google Docs meeting minutes template.
Step #3: Use Short-hand Writing Techniques
Writing effective meeting minutes means you have to keep up with the pace of the room. Writing in short-hand means using symbols and abbreviated language which allows you to scribble down as much information as possible. You can even create your own legend which you can refer back to explaining what words and symbols mean. Writing in short-hand is a skill that will get your far during your meetings.
Step #4: Don’t Be Afraid To Speak Up
Even though you’re writing meeting minutes, don’t be afraid to speak up if you missed what was said. It can be intimidating to pause the conversation, but it’s better to ask for clarification.
Here a few phrases you can say:
- I believe you just said [xyz] statement. Is that correct?
- I’m not sure I’m following the conversation. Can you repeat what you just said?
- I apologize if I’m behind the curve, but can you repeat [xyz] concept?
The best way to write effective meeting minutes is to stay organized and come prepared to your meetings. Being a good note-taker doesn’t mean you’re capturing everything word-for-word. Being concise and summarizing relevant information is how you write effective meeting minutes.
We’ve been perfecting our template for years and we want to share it with you. Don’t sleep-talk your way through your next meeting and start your journey as the next meeting minutes guru.