Are you the designated individual that takes care of the meeting minutes in your group? Do you feel lost when it comes to how to take meeting minutes effectively and efficiently?
If so, you've come to the right place. Whether you're an expert or a beginner, meeting minutes can be challenging. They're logistical and calculated notes that we aren't trained to make.
So, if you need to know how to take meeting minutes, keep reading. We have everything you need to know to take the best meeting minutes you've ever written.
Below is everything we will cover. Feel free to skip ahead.
- What are meeting minutes?
- What to include in meeting minutes
- How to take meeting minutes
- Tips for writing meeting minutes
What are meeting minutes?
Meeting minutes refer to the document that details what happened during a given meeting. Usually, the document containing the meeting minutes reviews the important topics discussed at meetings. It excludes unimportant details.
The meeting minutes include important tasks and assignments as well. By detailing these ideas, no employee is left in the dark about what leadership expects of them.
The document lists what assignments the team created, whom the team gave each assignment to, and when the team decided that the individuals should finish each task.
Once the meeting minutes are complete, the designated individual types them into an official meeting record. Then, someone in a leadership position should approve the meeting minutes. Lastly, someone will send the meeting minutes off to the appropriate individuals.
What is the difference between meeting minutes and meeting notes?
Meeting minutes and meeting notes are similar, but they are not precisely the same.
When you take meeting minutes, you should be writing the following details:
- A list of people who attended the meeting
- A list of those individuals who were expected to but did not come to the meeting
- When the meeting began
- When the meeting ended
- Broad, key topics that the team discussed during the meeting
- Actions that team members took during the meeting
- Decisions that the team made during the meeting
However, when you write meeting notes, you should be writing down the following information:
- Ideas that meeting participants brought up throughout the duration of the meeting
- Goals that the team set during the meeting
- Data that the team took or reviewed during the meeting
- Other significant and notable events or sayings
Overall, meeting minutes are more formal than meeting notes. In fact, law professionals and auditors may review your meeting minutes for legal reasons in the future. Meeting minutes are the legal documentation of every meeting that a team has.
As far as the content, meeting minutes and meeting notes are not too different. Meeting notes are simply more detailed as they cover some more specific ideas.
What to include in meeting minutes
Meeting minutes hold all of the legal details of a meeting. The document should cover all of the ideas and data necessary for someone to reconstruct the meeting. In other words, someone should be able to read the document and recreate the meeting using the information that the writer recorded.
Here are all of the details that you should be sure to include in your meeting minutes:
- The date that the team held the meeting
- When the meeting started
- Why the team is holding a meeting
- Who attended the meeting
- Who did not attend the meeting
- Tasks that the team created
- Whom they assigned each task to
- Deadlines for each task that the team created
- Any decisions that the team made during the meeting
- Any elections or appointment that the team made during the meeting
- Motions that passed or failed during the meeting
- Any corrections that need to made to the previous meeting minutes
- Time and date of the next meeting, if the team has already planned this
- When the meeting ended
It's a lot to record, but every detail is essential for legal and professional reasons. This is a document that every involved employee should be able to understand. It prevents a lack of accountability as well.
How to take meeting minutes
Preparing and administering all of this information can be a lot to handle. That is especially if your team has meetings often.
Every team needs a plan for tackling meeting minutes, and we've got an efficient one here:
- Make a template for meeting minutes that you can use at every meeting
- Write down everything your team needs to know about important decisions, actions, discussions, and tasks
- Collect copies that coworkers may have of reports or presentations that the team shared during the meeting
- Review your meeting minutes with the team and ask questions as needed
- Type a comprehensible meeting minutes document
- Request approval from a designated leader
- Send the meeting minutes to the relevant employees
Let's review everything step-by-step to make sure that you're prepared for your next meeting.
1. Meeting minutes template
If you're doing anything repetitive, a template is a way to go. You'll save yourself time and ensure that you're covering everything that you need to write down.
Meeting minutes templates can also help you write down any known information before the meeting. You may know of a guest speaker or an important meeting topic beforehand. You can get this down now to save you sometime later.
If you're taking meeting minutes for the first time, you can ask the previously designated person if they used a meeting minute template. If not, you can use these placeholders to form your own:
- Name of the organization
- Team or department name within the organization, if applicable
- Purpose of the meeting
- Start time of the meeting
- End time of the meeting
- Date of the meeting
- Location of the meeting
- List of attendees
- List of absentees
- Meeting agenda, if applicable
- Motions that the team addressed, including who presented the motion, what the motion is, and whether or not it passed
- Tasks that the team created
- Individuals who received those tasks
- Deadlines associated with those tasks
- Space for your and a leader's signatures
As you create more and more of these documents, you'll know what to add, remove, or revise. It's okay to make a template specific to how your team does their meetings. The basic template isn't going to work for everyone.
2. Write down important topics
You don't want to write down everything that everybody says during the meeting. This will only make the document more cluttered.
It would be best if you focused on necessary actions and big ideas. With that in mind, you should write it out if you're in doubt. If anything, you can address the note with leadership afterward.
As you're recording discussions, votes, motions, presentations, reports, and the like, you should keep subjectivity out of it. Stay away from using adjectives, as this could show personal opinion towards one of these actions.
We should also clarify that you shouldn't include every action. If you do fun, team-building activities, this doesn't count, even if it was much fun.
Instead, focus on the critical information:
- Who did it?
- When did it happen?
- Why did they do it?
- What was the overarching idea?
- Were there any conclusions?
- When and how are we going to follow up? Who is going to follow up?
Stick to the 'who, what, when, where, how, and why' of each action. This will keep it to the important details and make sure that any opinions stay out of it.
3. Collect meeting materials
During some meetings, attendees may decide to show data or present a slideshow. If so, you should have this information. It may be useful to attach this to the meeting minutes document as a point of reference.
If you don't have access to the information that you need, you can ask the person who presented it if he or she can send you a copy. If the individual who contributed the document, slideshow, or other medium doesn't have a physical copy, you can ask them to email it to you.
For those of you who keep physical copies of the meeting minutes, you can attach a printed copy of the document to the meeting minutes. However, most of you probably keep everything digitally. Therefore, you can attach the presentation to the email that you send with the digital meeting minutes.
Collecting meeting aids are useful for refreshing the attendees' memories about what was presented in the meeting and helping absentees see what they may have missed.
4. Review your meeting minutes
Before your meeting is finished, you may want to review the significant ideas you've listed in the meeting minutes with the attendees. You can ask if anybody feels that you've missed something or haven't included something else. This will ensure that everybody's ideas are included, and you haven't missed any important topics.
When the meeting is over, you could review your notes to make sure that everything makes sense. You could also take this time to collect meeting aids and gather other important information from meeting attendees.
If someone you need to speak to has left the room already, you can send a professional email to ask them for the information you need. It would help if you were as thorough as possible in creating this document.
5. Type everything up
You've likely written your meeting notes in shorthand, bullet points, or some other quick format. However, you should change this format when you sent the meeting minutes to the appropriate individuals.
Create a paragraph for each important action that the team performed in the meeting. Make sure that you're creating detailed yet succinct sentences that cover what the team needs to remember.
You should also ensure that your document is in the present tense as if the meeting were currently happening. Double-check that you haven't included any opinions or other subjective language.
Once you've written everything up in email format, you can double-check that important information is present, attach any necessary documents, and proofread.
6. Get approval
Now, it's time to get approval from the team leader. Send the email you've composed with the documents to the leader and gain approval before sending it out to everyone else.
Ask this individual if they feel that you should include or exclude anything. You may also want to make sure that no one else needs to sign off on the meeting before you send it off to the team.
If they request any corrections, make those corrections quickly and note within the document that you made these corrections.
7. Send it off
Usually, companies send their meeting minutes through email. However, it would help if you asked the leader of the meeting to distribute this document to the rest of the team.
Double-check that you are sending the document to each attendee and absentee. You may also want to ask the meeting leader if there any other additional individuals that should receive the information.
Once you verified all this information, it's time to send the document and its attachments off.
Tips for writing meeting minutes
If you're new to writing meeting minutes or you need a little bit of advice in doing so, we have some tips that you need to know:
- Don't fear having an attendance sheet
- Focus on the important things
- Use shorthand writing while in the meeting
- Bring a recording device, if allowed
- Search for a template online
- Ask when you're in doubt
As you get more practice, writing meeting minutes will become easier. Work with your team and your meeting leader to find out better ways of organizing your meeting minutes.
Congratulations! Now you know how to take meeting minutes!
You can use all of the steps and tips to create the best meeting minutes you've ever seen. But, there's more.
Here at TrueNxus, we also care about your project management. More specifically, we care about how your company communicates about projects.
Our project management software can help you organize all of those tasks and dates we talked about covering in meeting minutes. Sending an email is great, but a designated platform for organizing the information is even better.
Are you tired of miscommunication and confusing emails? Get started with our free trial today.