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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.
Table of Contents
What is Minutes of Meeting or 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.
The term “meeting minute” refers to “taking-note”, but it covers the information mentioned below. 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.
What is Included in Minutes of Meeting?
Minutes of meetings can be formal or informal. But in general, meeting minutes focus on the outcomes of the meeting. Meeting minutes 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.
What is the Purpose of Meeting Minutes?
One of the primary purposes behind keeping minutes of meetings is to provide a historical record of the company’s short and long-term plans. In addition, organisations can use the meeting minutes as a record for future reference to know what kinds of progression have occurred.
Meeting minutes can also provide legal protection for the organisation at times. That’s because often, due diligence is captured in companies’ meeting minutes. Meeting minutes are official documents that can be used to confirm the ethical, fair practices of the organisation. Meeting notes can also serve as evidence of why and how a company came to certain decisions. And meeting minutes can help answer any questions that arise about decisions that have been made.
There are many valuable aspects of minute taking. Some of them are –
- A written record of a group’s decisions and actions
- A reminder of who was given assignments or responsibilities
- Proof of deadlines
- Helpful for people who are absent when decisions are made
How to Take Effective Meeting Minutes?
A meeting must be well planned to ensure its effectiveness. Also, 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.
Following are a few steps to help you take minutes of meeting more effectively.
1. Plan Your Minutes of Meeting
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. Determine 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. Create 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. Share 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 have to finalise the document and share it with the meeting participants or anyone who might be affected by the meeting decisions. You can share it via the company’s private network or email. Ideally, you should do it the day of the meeting or within the next 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.
5. Utilise Tools Meeting Minutes
You surely want 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.
6. Ask 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.
A Checklist for Writing Minutes of Meeting
There’s a high chance that you have to take meeting minutes often, as meetings happen on a regular basis. You can simplify the minute taking process by introducing a standard form or having a checklist with you.
Here’s a checklist of things to include when writing minutes of meeting.
- Date and time of the meeting
- Names of the participants
- Purpose of the meeting
- Agenda items and topics discussed
- Action points
- Short descriptions of action points with responsibilities and timeframes.
- Next meeting date and place
- Documents to be included in the report
Tips on How to Write Meeting Minutes
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 and concise.
- 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 or action points, 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.
Additional Tips for Minutes of Meeting
Here are some additional tips that might help you in efficient minute taking.
- Checking-off attendees as they enter the room.
- Create an outline based on the agenda. It will help you to jot down notes, decisions and important information.
- Include space below each item on your outline if you’re taking notes by hand.
- Summarise the decisions and action points.
- Record decisions on action items.
- Ask for clarification if necessary.
- Don’t write out the conversation word-for-word.
- 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.)
- Go over the notes after the meeting. Don’t wait too long to do so because you want your and the other meeting attendees’ memory to be fresh.
Sample Format of Minutes of Meeting
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.
Download Free Template for Taking Minutes of Meeting
Click on the button below to enlarge the template shown above and download a free copy of the meeting minutes template.
Minutes of meeting are the official written record of the meetings that take place in an organization or group. But they are not just transcripts of those proceedings. 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 minutes of meeting taking for you and your organisation.
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