How To Take Minutes For A Meeting: Stay Organized And Optimize Productivity

Meeting minutes provide structure to your meetings, saving time and boosting productivity. After team meetings, everyone knows what to do and before when.

Taking minutes for a meeting also doesn't have to be tedious.

This guide will cover everything you need to know about how to write meeting minutes. We'll also go through valuable software that streamlines the entire process.

What are meeting minutes?

Meeting minutes are a written summary of what happened during a meeting. This serves several purposes:

  • It keeps discussions relevant
  • It helps those who missed the meeting get up to speed
  • Participants keep track of action items and deadlines

Meeting minutes is an effective way to prevent meetings from going off topic. The meeting leader will set an agenda ahead of time, outlining talking points.

 

If anyone misses a meeting, these notes make catching up easy. Co-workers can share their meeting minutes with each other, so everybody is up to date.

It also helps team members keep track of due dates and action items. It's common for participants to miss specific tasks due to the fast-paced nature of meetings. But by forwarding your meeting notes to your team, everyone sees what they need to do and before what date.

What are the 3 types of meeting minutes?

These are the three types of meeting minutes:

  1. Action minutes
  2. Verbatim minutes
  3. Discussion minutes

Action minutes

Action minutes are the most common form of meeting minutes. It only records decisions management makes and any tasks they assign.

Verbatim minutes

Verbatim minutes is a more detailed note-taking method. It involves having a word-for-word account of the complete meeting. But this makes skimming through notes challenging.

Discussion minutes

Discussion minutes are notes showing all discussion topics that lead to decisions and actions. It differs from action minutes because it captures what led members to certain conclusions.

Discussion minutes are like a blend between action and verbatim minutes. You aren’t writing everything down, but you’re still capturing key discussion topics.

How do I write minutes of a meeting?

Consider these five steps before creating meeting minutes since they'll make your notes organized, concise, and searchable:

  1. Preplan your meeting notes
  2. Use a meeting minutes template
  3. Only write essential decisions and action items
  4. Rewrite your notes after your meeting
  5. Share and store your meeting minutes

Step 1: Preplan your meeting notes

First, prepare for your meeting because it only requires a few minutes and makes you look more professional. This is why you want to write an agenda.

Whether you're a meeting leader or participant, a clear plan ensures your meeting stays on course. And if the meeting goes off topic, recognizing it is easy.

In your agenda, have sections for information including but not limited to:

  • Date and time
  • Members joining
  • Topics to cover
  • How long to stay on each topic
  • Goals you're looking to achieve

You can create a plan and share it within seconds using Airgram. Once the meeting starts, Airgram records essential action items, deadlines, and decisions.

Step 2: Use a meeting minutes template

Instead of having a piece of paper to jot meeting minutes onto, come prepared with a template because it makes the note-taking process seamless. 

Several people will talk about various topics during meetings, and you'll struggle to record vital facts. But with a template, the headings and tables are already prepared. You can focus on listening rather than having to underline and draw tables.

Step 3: Only note decisions and action items

It's tempting to write everything down, especially if you're new to meeting notes.

However, keep your notes as short as possible without losing necessary details. Knowing what's important is challenging when starting out, and you'll have unnecessary long meeting minutes. But this is okay.

As you get used to writing notes, you'll get a feel for if something is crucial or if you can omit it.

It also helps to put emphasis on:

Capturing decisions is key because you know what your team agreed on. People forget about the decisions they made and why they took that decision, but by having meeting minutes, you hold co-workers and employees accountable.

You also want to emphasize action items since it offers a clear list of tasks to complete after the meeting. This prevents you from leaving a meeting and not knowing what to do. If you're managing staff, share these action items with them, so the next steps are clear.

Pro tip: Always write notes on your desktop and avoid pen and paper because you’re going to share them. With digital writing, you won't have to transfer these notes from paper to an online document, saving precious time.

Step 4: Rewrite your notes after your meeting

Many note-takers skip the rewriting step, but it helps you understand notes better. When you're recording meeting minutes, you'll be typing quickly, and the chances of spelling errors are high. 

So after your meeting, proofread your writing and remove mistakes. You'll also notice unclear sections, so rewrite it concisely. Do this when everything is still fresh, making it easier to remember what people meant.

Once your notes are clear and error-free, try summarizing them into a few paragraphs because your team doesn't want to read several pages. And if someone is looking back at old meeting notes, they can skim through without reading walls of text.

Step 5: Share and store your meeting minutes

The last step is to share and store your meeting minutes.

You can do this using multiple methods. If your meetings are casual, copy and paste the critical decisions and actions into an email and forward it to your team. This way, everybody gets access to your meeting notes in an email format.

If you’re holding a formal QBR meeting, you could share the document via team collaboration software and paste it into your team wiki. So in the coming months, if someone needs to refresh their memory, they can search for your notes in the wiki.

This also makes for easy storage. Most wikis use Cloud, so it's accessible to your whole team. You want to avoid storing meeting minutes in Microsoft Word because it's hard to search for the content in a specific document.

Meeting minutes template

Project name: What is the name of your meeting?

Meeting date and time: When is your meeting taking place?

Meeting facilitator: Who’ll be leading this team meeting?

Meeting objectives: What are you looking to achieve by holding this meeting? It could be reviewing your team's sales figures or gathering employee feedback.

Attendees: Who is joining this meeting?

Meeting agenda: Create an agenda about essential topics you'd like to cover, expectations, tasks, and deadlines, and have a timer for each subtopic that keeps it on track.

Meeting notes: Jot down your meeting minutes in this column. It could talk about decisions, questions, answers, and other facts.

Action items: List everything that team members need to do. This can be contacting a client or writing a sales report.

Parking lot: In this section, write about talking points unrelated to the current meeting. This prevents you from getting sidetracked.

5 best meeting minutes software

Consider these software options if you want to improve your meeting experience.

  1. Airgram
  2. Evernote
  3. Google Docs
  4. Beenote
  5. MeetingBooster

Airgram - Virtual meeting real-time transcription

Airgram is a free productivity software application that makes reducing meeting time effortless. After signing up for an account, you'll be able to build an agenda that you can integrate with meeting minutes. 

This keeps your team on track. You can add a timer for subtopics on Airgram, which avoids irrelevant discussions.

But if you don't feel like writing, use the live transcription feature to transcribe meetings in real-time. It works with Google Meet, Zoom, and MS Teams.

Simply click record, and Airgram transcribes your entire meeting and shares it with participants. You can also drag and drop the transcript to your notepad. This allows you to pay closer attention and make more informed decisions.

Evernote - Over 50 customizable meeting templates

Evernote is a popular app that offers minute meeting templates and audio recording features. So although Evernote won't transcribe your meetings, feel free to use the software for note-taking and assigning tasks.

The customizable templates make meeting preparation easy because you can personalize it depending on what type of meeting you're in. For casual calls, add a few topics to talk about without much detail.

For formal discussions, Evernote lets you attach events, projects, tasks, decisions made, and questions and answer sections.

You'll find a "Tasks" feature on your Evernote dashboard during meetings. This allows you to create action items with deadlines and assign them to various team members while taking notes.

Google Docs - Seamless voice typing 

The Google Docs voice typing software is handy when you're running meetings and would like to transcribe text in real-time. After the transcription process, store your file on Google Drive and share it with team members.

The best part about Google Docs is it stores your notes in a searchable format that everyone can access. With Microsoft Word, you can't search for content within a document, so finding subtopics is a hassle.

The only drawback is that Google Docs can't record and store audio or video recordings. 

Beenote - Topic timekeeping and attendance management

Beenote is another note-taking and meeting management tool that specializes in meeting minutes. 

With Beenote, create a clear and detailed plan and forward it to your team, so everyone knows what to expect. It also helps you stay on time because co-workers can see the countdown clock on the screen, which keeps discussions relevant.

You'll also find a team board where you can assign tasks with due dates to specific participants. Beenote notifies these team members via email, ensuring everyone meets their deadlines.

During meetings, jot down ideas and talking points inside Beenote so you won't have to switch between multiple apps. When you’re finished, share these meeting minutes with your team and anyone who missed the video meeting.

MeetingBooster - Detailed team reports

MeetingBooster makes preparing, managing, and documenting meetings less demanding with its advanced integrations. It connects with software like:

  • iCalendar
  • Outlook
  • Google Calendar

But it's more than just a meeting minutes tool. What sets MeetingBooster apart is its analytics. You can evaluate and measure all aspects of your team meetings to see where you're unproductive.

And with the performance and opportunity graphs, compare yourself to the average company and find out what you're doing well. 

The reports also improve accountability within your organization. It gives you an in-depth overview of every team member, and you can rank them based on how consistently they meet deadlines. 

Final thoughts on taking meeting minutes

Meeting minutes save time because it's like a guide that keeps your meeting on track. It also holds your team accountable since tracking decisions, action items, and due dates are seamless.

So if you're looking to implement meeting minutes into your work processes, the five-step method listed above is a solid starting point. And to take your meeting productivity even further, consider software like Airgram.