Published on October 11th, 2016 | by Michelle Roper-Shaw
Top 10 Tips for Writing Meeting Minutes
Every week, the average office worker will spend up to 16 hours in meetings. In fact, during our working lives we can expect to attend a total of 1,174 meetings.
I’m sure we can all think of the many meetings we have unnecessarily attended. Times when we have been unclear of the outcomes or felt frustrated that a subsequent meeting has covered exactly the same topic.
Writing effective meeting minutes is not only important in recording meeting outcomes. It can also set out the way to organise and conduct meetings successfully for everybody involved.
To help you become more organised and efficient, here are our Top 10 Tips to Writing Meeting Minutes.
1 Get the Agenda
Whether formal or informal, knowing in advance what is due to be discussed is essential. Request the agenda from the meeting organiser before you start to prepare for the meeting. It is more than likely that once the meeting is underway that conversations may go off topic or proceed in a different order than anticipated. Marking items off as they are discussed will help to keep you and everyone else on track.
2 Know Who is Attending
There are always last minute attendance changes or absentees. On the day of the meeting, confirm who will be attending and their job role, plus who has sent their apologies or replacement. Having this information in advance ensures that you will not need to spend valuable time during the meeting writing down everybody’s names and details.
3 Create a Template
You have the meeting agenda, you know who is attending, and the time and location. By creating a template within your meeting notebook you will make the best use of your time once the meeting begins. So, use these headers within your minute writing template:
- Date, time and location of the meeting
- Type of meeting (i.e. Monthly Board Meeting, Weekly Team Meeting etc.)
- List of attendees and apologies
- Agenda Topics
- Decisions Made
- Action Points and Who is Responsible
- Any Other Business
- Details for the next meeting: Date, time, location, agenda items.
4 Understand the Purpose of the Meeting
Understanding the purpose of the meeting will help to ensure you only capture relevant information. Hence, for other people who need to know the meeting outcomes, your minutes will be an effective record of the decisions, action points and deadlines.
Because you have prepared in advance by obtaining the agenda, attendees and preparing a meeting minute template you have the time to listen. Effective listening will help keep you focussed on the main issues. Try not to get distracted by interesting yet irrelevant comments.
6 Be Concise
In our recent article If You Want to Remember Something, Write It Down, we discussed how writing notes helps us attain information for longer. However, writing longhand is time consuming and recording concise notes is imperative. It is easy to get distracted once a meeting begins and so always bear in mind the previous point, understand the purpose of the meeting. This will help you record the information that matters.
7 Action Points and Deadlines
Recording the action points and who is responsible is undoubtedly one of the key aspects to taking meeting minutes. The perceived outcome of the action point should be clear to avoid any ambiguity at future meetings. The person/s responsible should be included along with deadlines for progress updates and completion.
8 If in Doubt, Ask
Never be afraid to ask for clarification if something is unclear. In addition, if an agenda topic has been overlooked or not covered thoroughly ask for confirmation as to whether a decision has been made or what the next steps are.
9 Write Up the Minutes ASAP
Once the meeting has finished, make sure you write up the meeting notes as soon as possible. You want to ensure that the information is still fresh in your mind to ensure you capture the details correctly. Most of all, distributing the meeting notes to attendees and other interested parties as soon as possible will help to keep momentum on track so tasks are actioned on time.
10 Double Check Your Work
Whilst speed is of the essence, do not overlook the importance of double checking your work. Proof read your work for spelling and grammar. Check all the information, are the names and dates correct for the action points and decisions? Once you are happy that everything is accurate, send out your finished meeting notes to all relevant parties.
Rhodia Business and Meeting Books
Since organisation is key in minute writing, the Rhodia range of Business and Meeting Books is ideal. Rhodia was founded in Lyon, France over 80 years ago by two brothers Henry and Robert Vérilhac. Known as “brand with two fir trees” it has subsequently evolved as a luxury stationery brand with its, classic, timeless look.
When you hold meetings with clients and business associates, these stylish notebooks portray a professional image. Featuring hard wearing, black laminated covers, they are suitable for everyday executive use in the office and when travelling. The high quality 90gsm white brushed vellum allows ink to transfer smoothly and prevents ink show through so you can confidently write on both sides of the page. It is also PEFC certified for an environmentally friendly note taking solution.
The Rhodia meeting book has multiple features that make it ideal to hit the key points above, including space to record the date, a meeting summary, a list of attendees, a notes section and finally the all-important meeting actions. In addition each page is micro-perforated so users have the option to neatly remove pages and file according to client or project.