What Should Be Included in Meeting Minutes?

Let’s be honest — there’s hardly a person on this planet who is thrilled with taking meeting minutes. However, maybe if you hate doing something, you just don’t know how to do it properly. There are various types of meetings, each requiring a different approach, but they all have some things in common. You can fit their entire essence into succinct meeting minutes the size of half an A4 sheet and do it so that even people who were absent at the meeting can understand the essence. Let’s review how to write meeting minutes, what to include, and how to simplify this tedious task.

Meeting Minutes Explained

Before we move forward to practical tips, let’s dive into some theory. So, what are the meeting minutes? How do they differ from the agenda? Is it the same as transcription?

Meeting minutes are official documents summarizing the essence of a formal or informal gathering at a company serving as evidence of a meeting being held. They are the opposite of the agenda which is prepared before the meeting. And, no, meeting minutes have nothing in common with transcription. It would be a rude mistake to transcribe the whole meeting and send it out to all the participants.

Are Meeting Minutes That Important?
Companies in the US alone hold 11 million meetings per day. Sometimes, it’s challenging to keep track of every meeting you attended throughout the week, leave alone a year. Meeting minutes become an archive that records the goals and decisions made and helps analyze the company’s progress within a specific time frame. It can track the route to acceptance and approval of any decisions or actions taken.

Besides, meeting minutes are an essential legal document that can help protect your company’s interests when things become controversial.

Regarding employees, meeting minutes can help recall everything discussed at a previous gathering and keep everyone (even those missing the events) on the same page.

Meeting Minutes Content

As previously mentioned, meeting minutes can differ depending on the meeting type. However, there are general elements that every such post-meeting note must include. Let’s review them.

Time, Date, Location, and List of Participants
All meeting minutes, without exception, must include the exact start time, date, and location of the meeting. This is also important when hosting a video meeting online using an app (Whoosh, Google Meet, Zoom). Do not underestimate the list of participants. It helps to keep track of who was actively involved in making decisions. You should also mention if some team members were absent during the meeting. You can prepare the attendees list in advance using the meeting invite in Google Calendar or the agenda.

Include the Meeting Agenda
Using a meeting agenda can simplify your work. It can serve as an outline for your meeting minutes; you just have to add details and action motions during the event. If this is a regular gathering, you can use the previous meeting minutes as a template and just add and edit extra notes. This will help you stick to the essentials and not waste time on unnecessary information. If you are not provided with the agenda, you must include the topics under discussion, actions taken, and decisions made.

Action Items
There can be tasks assigned to employees throughout the meeting. You have to write them down, including the assignee and the deadline for the implementation. This will help keep track of the progress and control the execution of the action item.

Next Meeting Time and Date
Participants may often approve the time and date of holding the next gathering. This information will be in handy for those people who missed the meeting.

Tips for Taking Effective Meeting Minutes

Use Templates
There are plenty of templates available online (even in Google Docs). You can customize them for your needs and use them during every meeting.

Rely on Technology
Notepads are old-school stuff. You can benefit from technology and automate the whole process. Recording the meeting can help you review and check on detailed information later. Working with a tablet or laptop can help you fill in the meeting minutes in real time and complete them by the end of the meeting.

Be an Active Listener
If you are assigned to make meeting minutes, you must listen carefully and catch every phrase said during the gathering. There’s no time for scrolling the Instagram feed or chatting with friends.

Be Objective
Your task is to provide just facts without any biased information. There is no place for subjective comments or expressing your opinion.

Don’t Transcribe
Meeting minutes must be brief. There’s no need to write a novel with detailed descriptions. You have to grasp the essential and present it in succinct sentences.

Clarify If Necessary
Ask clarifying questions if your colleagues skipped from one question to another and still haven’t announced a decision.

We hope that our guide on meeting minutes and their content will help you deal with this task without headaches.

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