Effective Meeting Minutes
With last year's rise in online meetings and distribution of the workforce, taking better meeting minutes became primordial for people and companies to increase collaboration and cooperation.
One of the common questions we've faced, and have heard from some of our early adopters is: How do i take meeting minutes? or How do I take "better" meeting minutes?
In this post we are going to outline some of the tricks to take better meeting minutes and more effective meeting notes. (Keep an eye out for the pro-tips).
No Shortcuts to Better Meeting Minutes
If you are a reader of our blog, you may have read our post on The Digital Meeting Experience Lifecycle.
For your meeting minutes to get better, we encourage you to adopt and embrace each phase of the digital meeting experience. Unfortunately for better meeting minutes, there is no shortcut. We will be presenting you with templates, but you will need to increase your discipline around meetings. That means figuring out when to meet, and how each phase of the lifecycle can help you create better minutes in the end.
The Before-Meeting Phase
First you must create a meeting agenda. Agendas get a bad reputation because they are rarely respected. They are rarely respected because they are either presented on the day, are not made in a collaborative manner, or no effort is put into following the agenda.
A meeting agenda should be a collaborative and living document, where comments and preparation material can be shared and discussed before a meeting. Making and using agendas proficiently is hard. It takes practice. To give you a head start, have a look at of this article, or this agenda template, or these.
🚨 Pro-tip: Add a "What do we expect" (a goal) as the last agenda item.
Once you have your agenda, we recommend you invite everyone to the meeting early (at least 48 hrs before if possible), so they know the agenda ahead of time. What we used to do internally is a "before-meeting nudge" a day before, to ask if everyone had time to read the agenda, get prepared.
The During-Meeting Phase
During the meeting, take very detailed notes. Make sure you note the main discussion points, recap on the action-items from a previous meeting, some of the decisions made, etc.
Taking notes can be quite distracting, we used to rotate the note-taker in the meetings. Someone would get elected at the beginning of the meeting and they'd be taking notes throughout. If they lots track, their north-star was to make sure at least the agenda discussion points were answered/discussed/noted. A trick is to use a meeting notes template. For instance, we started with this Notion Template.
We recommend recording the meetings also if possible. This promotes inclusion for people who can either not be there, are in a different timezones, or even people who's native language might not be the language spoken in the meeting.
Another important point is to always finishing meetings with action items. A simple format we used in the past was to use the rule of 3-Ws. Who will do What, by When?
🚨 Pro-Tip: The action item rule of 3-W: Who will do What, by When?
Nowadays we also have what we call "social-meetings" at Clearword since we're a 100% distributed company. Needless to say, those do not have action items.
The After-Meeting Phase
When the remote meeting ends with a sight of relief, once you've clicked on "End Meeting", your job starts.
We recommend sending your notes to every participant, the action items have to be sent to each "owner" of items, and if there are people who couldn't be there in the meeting they now have to be included.
Follow-ups are one of the most important part of the post-meeting phase. Once you've cleaned up your notes, follow-up with the people in the meeting. If material was shared DURING the meeting, make sure it's made available to all.
Finally, make sure you store all material in a central place like Confluence, Notion, or whichever Wiki-style software you are using.
The goal is to have those notes/action-items/recordings/decisions readily available for the next meeting, so you can follow-up on action-items and points which were discussed.
🚨 Pro-Tip: Make an effort to remove subjectivity from your notes, it'll make them easier to consume by members of other teams.