How to Take Meeting Minutes Effectively + Meeting Minutes Template

26.09.2023

How to Take Meeting Minutes Effectively + Meeting Minutes Template

If you’ve been tasked with taking meeting minutes for the first time you’ll probably feel overwhelmed. How can I possibly make note of everything said?

However, with correct tools, keeping a record of the discussions and decisions made during a meeting can become easy. Meeting minutes are an important tool for keeping track of progress, ensuring everyone is on the same page, and for reference in the future.

To help you with taking meeting minutes effectively we have put together some tips for you to hone your skills and deliver clear, concise, and accurate minutes. We also provide a free meeting minutes template for you to use.

Prepare in advance

Preparation is key when it comes to taking meeting minutes. You should familiarise yourself with the agenda and participants before the meeting takes place. This will help you to capture all of the important information and apply it to the correct people.

Creating a meeting minutes template based off the agenda can also be helpful. It’s a great way to stay organised and ensure you have notes for every point of discussion.

Choose the right tools

People work in different ways and how you best take meeting minutes could be completely different to a colleague. Some people like to take minutes straight onto a laptop, whereas others prefer a pen and paper, or mini whiteboard, so that key words and phrases can be checked off when the minutes are written up in full.

Typing can be beneficial, particularly if you are a skilled typist. However, the sound of keys tapping can be off putting for those attending the meeting. Hand written notes are perfect if you’re experienced in short hand or would prefer to complete your minutes pos-meeting.

Take clear and concise notes

Taking clear and concise notes during the meeting is important. However, don’t forget that you can go back and tidy up your work after the meeting.

You should ensure you’re listening carefully and capturing the key points. It is crucial that you remain objective.

Some people like to type meeting notes, allowing for easier editing later. If this is not possible refrain from writing down every single word – use shorthand or key words and phrases that you can build upon later.

Identify the key points

Deciding what key points to jot down when taking meeting minutes can be confusing. All too often minute takers try and cover too much information, meaning they miss out on the next point on the agenda.

You can identify the key points by listening for the following:

  • Decisions that are made
  • Actions that are assigned
  • New information that is shared
  • Questions that are raised

Record the decisions and actions

Decisions and actions are the most important topics to record in your meeting minutes. This information will have an impact going forward and will help everyone progress towards the same goal.

When recording decisions and actions, it is important to be clear about who is responsible for each task and by when it needs to be completed. You may also want to include a deadline for each task.

Employee taking meeting minutes on notepad

Provide a summary

At the end of your meeting notes it’s helpful to summarise the discussion. This will provide a conclusion and ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of how to proceed.

Your summary should be brief and to the point. It should include the key points of the discussion, as well as any decisions or actions that were made.

Proofread your minutes

Once you have a final version of your meeting minutes typed up it is important to proofread them carefully. You will want to make sure they are free of errors and accurately deliver the messages required.

It can be helpful to ask a colleague to proofread your meeting minutes for you. Sometimes your eye won’t catch errors in work you have focused on intently.

Distribute the minutes

Once your minutes are proofread and error-free you can distribute them to the meeting participants. You may want to send them out via email or post them on a shared drive.

It is important to distribute the minutes quickly after the meeting so that everyone has the information they need to follow up on the actions and decisions.

Taking meeting minutes effectively is an important skill that can help you to be a more effective communicator and collaborator. By following these tips, you can write meeting minutes that are clear, concise, and accurate. Below is your free meeting minutes template to help you next time you’re instructed to document a meeting.

Meeting minutes template

Meeting Date: typically displayed as day-month-year with leading zeros.

Meeting Time: typically displayed using twenty-four hour notation.

Meeting Location: this could be virtual or in a specific room.

Attendees: list all of those present both physically and virtually.

Absentees: list anyone invited that could not make the meeting.

Agenda: outline the agenda that was distributed before the meeting.

Minutes: this section should outline discussions around meeting items that are not decisions or actions.

Decisions and Actions: relay outcomes, including deadlines where appropriate for actions.

Next Steps: this is an ideal space to dictate the next meeting date and time.

Notes: highlight any supplementary information that will be useful.

Distribution: detail how the meeting notes will be provided.

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