In the modern workspace, meetings have become an essential part as they provide an opportunity to collaborate, share ideas, and make important decisions. However, with the increasing frequency and complexity of meetings, it can be challenging to keep track of everything discussed during the meeting.
This is precisely why meeting summaries are vital.
Unlike meeting notes and minutes, a meeting summary offers a more streamlined and condensed version of the meeting's key points and outcomes - making it easier for stakeholders to scan and obtain the information they need.
Not sure how to write a meeting recap? No worries. In this article, we will explore the best practices for creating an effective meeting summary that captures the essence of the meeting, along with meeting summary examples to get you started immediately!
A meeting summary is a concise overview of important discussions, decisions, and action items from a meeting. It is typically an email sent as a recap of the meeting, containing at-a-glance information on key details stakeholders need to be aware of.
Meeting summaries are created and shared to ensure that:
Every stakeholder remembers what was discussed and agreed upon during the meeting and remains on the same page.
Team members can move forward with a clear understanding of their next line of action.
They can serve as a written record for future reference when the need arises.
Stakeholders who are unable to attend the meeting can be brought up to speed.
Typically, the person who leads the meeting would also be responsible for creating the meeting summary. However, in some companies, there may be a designated person responsible for the task.
In any case, the person charged with this responsibility will often be someone who is actively engaged in the meeting and has a clear understanding of the meeting goals and talking points.
A meeting summary should be created as soon as the meeting ends while the information is still fresh in everyone's minds to guarantee that the information is accurate. It should then be circulated to all participants and stakeholders that were invited to the meeting.
Even though both meeting summaries and meeting minutes are created to document vital talking points and resolutions, they have some stark differences. Some of which include:
1. Purpose: As a formal record of the proceedings and decisions made at a meeting, meeting minutes are typically used for legal or regulatory purposes, and they may be required by organizations or government bodies.
A meeting summary, on the other hand, is a less formal version of meeting minutes. It is often used to communicate the main ideas of the meeting to others who were not in attendance.
2. Level of detail: Meeting minutes are typically more detailed and comprehensive. They include a record of the attendees and absentees, all the discussions, decisions, and actions taken at the meeting, while a meeting summary usually highlights only the most important points and decisions.
3. Tone: Meeting minutes are typically written in a more formal tone with the third-person narrative style and official language.
Meeting summaries, however, allow the writer to paraphrase for clarity and recap in a more informal tone.
4. When it is written: The summary of a meeting is usually written after the fact, while meeting minutes are taken as the meeting goes on.
A great meeting summary should capture the most important information from the meeting and provide an overview to enable participants and stakeholders to understand what was discussed and agreed upon. It must also be clear, concise, and easy to read.
The following items are usually included in a meeting summary:
Key discussion points
Decisions made during the meeting
Action items assigned to attendees with deadlines
Any resources or references mentioned during the meeting.
Ready to write a great meeting summary? Here’s how.
Meeting summaries are usually based on the notes taken during a meeting. Taking detailed notes is, therefore, vital for writing great meeting summaries.
Understand what should be included in a meeting recap, and you can write down notes accordingly. Here are some tips for taking notes:
Use the agenda to help
Ensure the action items and resolutions reached at the meeting are clear
If you have permission to record the meeting, that’s even better, as manual note-taking during a meeting could be arduous and sometimes result in inaccurate or incomplete notes.
Pro tip: Use the Airgram meeting assistant to automatically generate high-quality meeting transcripts, which you can refer to when you write the meeting summary.
Before you start creating the meeting summary, review the meeting notes to refresh your memory on what was discussed during the meeting. This approach also helps get the big picture and overall idea of the entire meeting, making it easier to develop a concise recap.
At this stage, you can identify the most important points discussed during the meeting. As we have mentioned above, they include key decisions made, action items assigned, and deadlines set.
While it is not compulsory, it is good practice to give a brief overview of the meeting and the topics that were discussed to provide context for the meeting decisions and tasks.
Providing context makes it easy for anyone reading the summary to understand the content easily - even if they were not at the meeting.
One reason to create a meeting recap is to make it quick to review, which is impossible if all the information is put into a long paraphrase.
So, organize the information in a clear and concise format; here are some tips:
Using headings or subheadings to break up different topics and sections.
Using bullet points or short sentences to convey the key points
Using different colors
It is not enough for the summary to be clear to you alone - it must be clear to everyone who reads it.
A good way to do this is by asking yourself if someone who was absent from the meeting could reasonably understand the summary. If the answer is ‘no’, make an effort to clarify.
No one likes an error-ridden or inaccurate report. Therefore, proofreading the meeting summary is one of the most vital steps.
Carefully review the meeting summary to ensure that it accurately reflects what was discussed during the meeting. Ensure that the focus is on vital talking points and that the details included are true and correct. And where you are unsure about a fact or detail, revisit your meeting notes or recording to confirm.
Also, edit the summary for grammatical correctness, logical consistency, concision, and brevity. Even though these aspects focus more on form than substance, they are key indicators of the quality of your summary.
Once you have polished the meeting summary, share it with all participants and stakeholders who were invited to the meeting. Confirm that everyone who is required to know about the meeting and its details is on the mailing list.
If you are looking to elevate your meeting summary and make the process of writing one more efficient, here are the best practices to guide you:
Use a meeting summary template: Meeting summary templates serve as a guide for how you will structure your meeting summary. Creating or adopting one before you start writing your summary provides a clear direction for your writing so that you can simply plug in the relevant details from the meeting.
Keep it concise and accurate: A meeting summary should be brief and to the point, focusing on the key points and decisions made during the meeting. Avoid including unnecessary details or tangents that do not contribute to the overall summary.
It is also important to ensure that the summary accurately reflects what was discussed and decided during the meeting.
Get feedback: Before circulating the summary to all participants and stakeholders, consider sharing it with the meeting leader or a trusted colleague who was at the meeting to get their feedback and ensure that the summary is clear and accurate.
By following these tips, you can create a high-quality meeting summary that effectively communicates the key points. This can help ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.
As a team leader or project manager, you are probably in lots of meetings, which makes writing a summary for every conference a tedious task.
That’s where the Airgram meeting assistant comes in handy with its automatic meeting summary feature! It leverages the power of OpenAI GPT-4 to automate the process of generating meeting summaries.
Here is how:
Invite the Airgram assistant to your meeting so it generates a real-time transcript of all conversations.
Once your meeting is over, review the meeting and click the 'Summary' tab in the left Notepad section.
The AI will analyze the meeting transcripts using natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning algorithms to identify and summarize the key points in the meeting.
You can then directly copy the summary and share it with stakeholders.
Using an AI assistant to write a meeting summary can save you time and help catch up on meetings in seconds.
Subject: Meeting Summary - [Meeting Title] on [Meeting Date]
Thank you for attending today’s meeting! I hope the meeting was inspiring.
Here is a quick recap of the meeting to help:
[Describe the goal of holding the meeting]
[Talking point 1]
[Talking point 2]
[Talking point 3]
@name is expected to [Task] by [Due Date]
@name is expected to [Task] by [[Due Date]
@name is expected to Task] by [[Due Date]
[List of any relevant attachments or documents]
If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to reach out.
Thank you for your participation in this meeting.
Writing an effective meeting summary is a critical skill for any working professional. By following the tips and guidelines outlined in this article, you can master the art of creating a meeting recap and helping your team and organization to achieve success.
Even better, you can avoid all the hassle and generate your summaries faster and more efficiently using the Airgram AI-generated meeting summary. Simply focus on your meetings and let Airgram handle everything!
Tobi is a writer and communications consultant with five years of experience in creating content for corporate and non-profit organizations. She enjoys writing on best practices for business processes, technology, ESG, and climate change.