How to Take Effective Meeting Notes

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Being assigned the task of taking minutes at a meeting is viewed by some people as a thankless task. However, mastering the art of taking effective meeting minutes is not only helpful for participants to understand the issues, discussion and agreed to action items, but it can also help others who weren't at the table in their decision making. Don't underestimate the power and effectiveness of learning how to master this writing skill.

Start off your meeting minutes at the top by writing the name of the meeting, location, date and time that it was held.

List the invited attendees that are present by their name, title and department they represent along with those invited but not present. Also list the names of any invited guest speakers or presenters.

Create a subsection for each agenda item and take notes as the discussion relates to that topic. Write down key discussion and where possible try to indicate the person's name associated with any key points made.

After discussion on the topic, write down any agreed-upon next steps or decisions made surrounding that agenda item to include recommended actions by whom, date due, responsible persons or department for implementation, etc. This is the most critical part of the minute taking process since any action plans from the meeting will be derived from this section.

For any issues or discussion points raised but not resolved, add them to a separate section of your minute pages labeled "Unresolved Issues." Meeting attendees can view these later and the meeting host can then decide how to best handle resolution of these items.

At the end of the minutes, write down the agreed upon next meeting date, time and location along with any other information that's required for attendees to know in preparation for the next session.

Finally, make sure all invited attendees whether present or not receive a copy of the minutes. It's a good rule of thumb to try and distribute the minutes within 24 to 48 hours after the meeting. That way if something is inaccurate or someone was misquoted, it can be corrected while it's fresh on each attendees' mind.

Tips

  • It's important to have an accurate list of those in attendance since it may be important to know later who was present and took part in making key decisions in the meeting Always remember to write both your name and the date you took the minutes along with the file name path of where the minutes can be found if stored electronically on a computer.

Warnings

  • It's OK to take shorthand but try not to paraphrase or interject your own words, comments or opinions about what you think someone said, felt or thought -- write the minutes as the person stated it.

References

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