The most productive meetings result in decisions and actions. Recording the decisions and actions in meeting minutes creates a useful accountability tool. Minutes can also keep those unable to attend informed of results. Good minutes are both easy to develop and ensure an accurate record of decisions and actions.
Here are seven tips for creating better meeting minutes:
- Use a standard template. The use of a standard model will make the recording of minutes easier while helping recipients recognize the document quickly. I typically like to have an agenda template that also has space to record the minutes. The use of the agenda helps ensure all notes are in the proper order. Plus, the time and the topics of the meeting are already in place.
- Write meeting minutes while you still remember. Even if you have written out notes while the meeting was in progress, there are still things that may not have been recorded. Turn your attention to the meeting minutes sooner, rather than later, as waiting will only reduce your memory of the meeting. Timeliness improves the accuracy of minutes.
- Record who was there. The first record in the minutes is the list of attendees, physical and virtual. The use of an agenda allows one to check off the names.
- Include images. In meetings, there are often whiteboard or post-it note sessions. Be sure to photograph, include a reference in the minutes, and attach the photos of collaborations at the end of the minutes.
- Document decisions, actions, and owners. Any significant decisions made should be recorded, in addition to the discussion leading up to them. If there are actions assigned, keep track of both the activities and those responsible for completing them. A record will help hold attendees accountable for completing their tasks before the next meeting.
- No "spin." Everyone has an opinion, but your views have no place in the meeting minutes. Record all notes accurately and ethically, keeping to the facts.
- Send minutes out quickly. Getting the minutes out quickly means everyone will have some memory of the meeting, and also have time to review and buy-in to decisions made and take actions assigned.
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