8 Easy Tips to Effectively Take Meeting Minutes

Meetings are a fundamental requirement in business, and every project has many types of meetings. From discovery and planning, to execution and delivery, meetings are essential for ideating and communicating with a team throughout the project life cycle. An effective meeting requires effective meeting minutes — notes that are easy to scan, search, and share. As such, it is important to know how to take meeting minutes.

Meeting minutes, also known as notes, are the actual record of a meeting. More than a meeting agenda, they include the summary of key items discussed, ideas proposed, and decisions made. These are used for future reference, and to inform those team members or stakeholders who are not in attendance. The creation of meeting notes is usually tasked to a designated meeting participant, such as a project manager, or someone solely responsible for note taking, such as an executive assistant.

Read more: Establishing Meeting Cadence for Remote Project Teams

How to Take Meeting Minutes: 8 Easy Tips

  1. Choose and set up a meeting minutes template, and arrive at the meeting fully prepared.
  2. Record meeting notes during the meeting or immediately after in a comfortable format.
  3. Listen before writing. It is better to summarize the concept of what is occurring, rather than trying to write down everything said.
  4. Use bullets and key words for easy readability.
  5. Stick to the facts and leave out personal opinion, or specifics about what a particular person might say.
  6. Record action items, assigning each an owner to be followed up with.
  7. Outline next steps with key dates and people identified.
  8. Keep it simple!

How to Set Up a Meeting Minutes Template

Documenting effective meeting notes begins before the meeting takes place. Using a basic template can help you plan and set up the meeting in advance, so you can stay on task and accomplish meeting goals within the allotted time. Templates are available in most word processing programs, or can be found online. You can also create your own meeting minutes template.

A good meeting minutes template should include these main topics, at minimum:

  • Subject of the meeting, including name of project or phase
  • Date and time the meeting was held
  • A list of attendees, including the meeting leader
  • Specific meeting agenda items, including agenda items from the previous meeting
  • Status of all items
  • Action items identified with key people assigned to them

Additional items to include in meeting minutes, if relevant:

  • Location of the meeting
  • Length of the meeting
  • A list of team members not in attendance
  • Any items that are approved and by whom, such as budget spend
  • Date and time of the next meeting
  • Items to be discussed during the next meeting
  • Expected actions from teammates by the next meeting

If you’re still feeling lost on how to take meeting minutes, know that note taking is a skill that improves over time. For complicated projects and tasks, ask another team member who is well-versed in the subject to review your notes for accuracy — as well as any action items that might have been missed — before you distribute them.

Read next: How to Successfully Host a Project Kickoff Meeting

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Anne Meick

Anne Meick is an author, copywriter, and digital project management consultant, leading digital teams and projects in highly regulated industries. She is the founder of Writers' Connection and blogs on writing, editing, and book publishing.