Have you been tasked with taking minutes of meeting, but you have no idea how to start it or what to include in it? Or perhaps you are baffled by too many options to organise and prepare for the meeting.
A lot of things could go wrong if you miss something important to document. The last thing you want in your career is a dissatisfied boss being asked to repeat himself because you didn’t catch that last bit of information.
So, all you need to do is prepare the minutes of meeting effectively. It’s not as arduous as you may come to think of it. Minute taking is actually a simple process. And we’ve prepared a guide that’ll provide you with all the necessary information on how to take minutes of meeting efficiently and effectively.
What are the meeting minutes?
Minutes of meeting can be defined as the official summary of important information, conversations and decisions made over the course of a meeting. Meeting minutes shouldn’t be confused with the meeting agenda, which is prepared in advance and refers to the list of activities that participants are hoping to accomplish during the meeting. However, a meeting agenda helps in the preparation stage of minutes taking.
In general, meeting minutes focus on the outcomes of the meeting, and they may include the following information:
- Names of the participants or attendees.
- Date and time of the meeting.
- Agenda items to be covered.
- Decisions made by the participants.
- Follow-up actions and next steps.
In general, the term “meeting minute” is refers to “taking-note”, but it covers the information above. Sometimes, it’s also called “minutes”, not because the note-taker records the notes along with the time. As a matter of fact, “meeting minutes” have nothing to do with time at all. But what it means is to condense the meeting down to the most important points.
How to take meeting minutes
A meeting must be well planned to ensure its effectiveness. Correspondingly, the employer, secretary or the minutes-taker should work together to:
- Ensure that the agenda and meeting are well-thought-out.
- Distribute the meeting minutes to the committee or board members.
- Identify and track action items.
- Store the meeting minutes for future reference or improvements for the organisation.
1. Predetermining meeting minutes
You must prepare thoroughly before every meeting. In addition, it’ll make your job easier and a lot more straightforward if you:
- Know in advance who will be attending the meeting.
- Pre-empt the agenda.
- Obtain necessary information before documenting.
- Organise everything that you may need while taking notes. Having a meeting minutes template is quite handy.
- Create a document format working with your boss or the Chairperson based on the meeting structure and the tools you use.
2. Knowing what needs to be documented
You don’t need to be so stringent with details while taking the meeting minutes. Because your organisation may have required a specific format of the meeting minutes that you’ll need to follow.
A typical meeting minute draft may include the following:
- The date and time of the meeting.
- A full list of the names of the participants as well as those unable to attend.
- Any changes or corrections to previous meeting minutes.
- Decisions made on agenda items such as actionable steps, who will be responsible for it, items to be held over etc.
- Voting outcomes or motions passed or rejected.
- New business or ideas.
- Any detail for the next meeting such as date, time, place, topic etc.
3. Creating a meeting agenda
A meeting agenda is a list of items and plans that the meeting host and the participants hope to accomplish. Before hosting a meeting, it’s very important to decide:
- Who needs to be in the meeting.
- How it will run.
- What topics will be discussed?
And a meeting agenda ensures exactly that. A solid meeting agenda not only gives you your main outline for the meeting but also ensures that the participants get on the same page.
4. Meeting minutes writing process
The notes you take during the meeting are just for you. So, you’ll need to give them a polish so that they are ready for distribution. You can do this straight after the meeting is over. Keep these following steps in mind while taking meeting minutes:
- Keep your wording clear.
- Leave no room for doubt on what has been decided.
- Try to briefly explain the resultant course of action instead of summarising it.
- Include major arguments if there is any lengthy debate preceded by a certain action or motion.
- Record only the facts rather than writing your opinion or subjective take on them.
- It’s important not to refer to people by name while discussing the results of motions.
- Keep things simple! Make sure you write the meeting minutes in the same tense.
- Attach any additional external documents to an appendix.
- Add supplementary notes if necessary and clarify points.
- And finally, proofread and spellcheck the finished products before giving them out to everybody in the department.
5. Sharing meeting minutes
If you are a designated minute taker, your duties don’t end after taking the meeting minutes. You’ll also need to ensure that the document you have prepared is easily and readily accessible.
Furthermore, you may have to finalise the document and share it via the company’s private network or other online sharing platforms (preferably within 24 hours). Because It’ll help the participants to run over the minutes and get started on the next steps while everything is fresh in their minds.
6. Using meeting minutes tools
You need to save time on making meeting minutes templates and preparing for them. Below is a list of tools that you might use specifically for meeting minutes.
- Google Docs (Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, BlackBerry, Chrome OS): Supports collaborative note-taking and can help you prepare your document with ease. You can simply share the crafted minutes with the group using their email addresses.
- OneNote (Windows, macOS): Very fast and useful in sharing user’s notes, drawings, screen clippings. Also supports audio recording with corresponding note time-stamping.
- Hugo (Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, macOS, Android): A tool for organising meetings and sharing notes.
- OmniOutliner (macOS, iOS): A powerful tool for organising and structuring information. You can create nested lists of topics for meeting minutes based on the agenda. Allows syncing and sharing of documents with its built-in OmniPresence feature.
- Evernote (Windows, Android, iOS, macOS): An app designed for taking notes, organising and managing tasks and archiving as well. You can easily create your meeting minutes templates using the meeting agenda.
- Minutes.io (Web): Can help to create agenda items, easy-to-read templates and add in your notes. You can email a copy of the meeting minutes to the attendees. Minutes.io works offline too!
- Scrivener (macOS; Windows; iOS; Linux): An useful meeting minute software for preparing meetings. Provides a collaborative environment for management, note-taking, building template and recording.
- Agreedo (Web): Allows you to capture relevant information in meetings, create agendas, track results and send them to all relevant attendees.
Make sure that attendees have access to the meeting minutes before, during and after your meetings and can easily collaborate on it.
7. Asking for reviews
The official record of a meeting often needs to be certified. So, you should ask the Chairperson or your supervisor for the reviews and approval of your prepared meeting minutes. For many organisations, minutes are evaluated and approved at the beginning of the meeting.
To make the meeting minutes complete and accurate, you need to ask the attendees of your meeting to go over the minutes and share their input by leaving a comment. Because their feedback will help you optimise your meeting for better team performance.
Additional tips that might help your minute-taking:
- 1. Checking-off attendees as they enter the room.
- 2. Creating an outline based on the agenda. It will help you to jot down notes, decisions and important information.
- 3. Include space below each item on your outline if you’re taking notes by hand.
- 4. Summarise the decisions and action points.
- 5. Record decisions on action items.
- 6. Ask for clarification if necessary.
- 7. Don’t write out the conversation word-for-word.
- 8. Record the meeting. You can bring a voice recorder or a mobile phone to record the meeting if you’re really struggling to write down all the information. It’ll help with the clarification purposes later on (you must let everyone in the room at the start of the meeting that the proceedings are being recorded.
Meeting minutes template
While making a meeting minute template, you should consider the type of file or document you want to use for the meeting. You can use Google Doc, Excel, PDF, email or something else for your meeting minutes templates.
Here is a simple meeting minutes template you can refer to next time you need to take meeting minutes.
Meeting minutes are crucial as they capture the necessary information about a meeting. However, preparing and taking minutes doesn’t have to be a daunting task. We hope this blog helps you get started in creating effective meeting minutes for your organisation.