Good meeting notes are crucial for maximizing the impact of any meeting. However, many team leaders struggle with getting good notes from a meeting—to the point where many simply decide to record their meetings and play back the audio (which is slow) or have a transcription service create their meeting notes for them (which can be expensive and takes a long time to complete).
Knowing how to take meeting notes that are valuable to the whole team is important for maximizing the impact of team meetings—and a crucial meeting management skill in general. Why are meeting notes so important? What meeting notes format should you use? And, what other best practices for meetings should you keep in mind?
Uses for Meeting Notes
Meeting notes/minutes are a crucial tool for teams because they can be used to:
- Capture Helpful Ideas.
Team meetings are a great opportunity for team members to share their ideas and insights. Well-made meeting notes help capture these ideas so they can be given the attention they deserve. This helps to demonstrate that employee input is both heard and taken into account—which can increase trust and employee engagement.
- Increase Alignment with Meeting Initiatives.
If a team meeting is held, but nobody remembers the action items from it, does the meeting really matter? Taking good meeting notes and ensuring that employees have access to them can help increase alignment with meeting initiatives—largely because this helps ensure that employees remember the action items from the meeting.
- Keep Absent Employees Updated.
Not every employee can attend every meeting. Some employees might have other appointments, be in the middle of traveling for work, or may be sick on the day of the meeting. Detailed meeting notes help keep these employees apprised of important takeaways from the meetings they missed. This, in turn, helps them stay on the same page as their colleagues who were able to attend.
- Record Agreements Reached During the Meeting.
If anything was put to a vote or a consensus was reached on a particular topic, recorded meeting minutes can help ensure that the results are preserved (and even who voted in favor of a particular item). This can help improve acceptance of vote results and make it easier to recognize who contributed to team decisions.
These are just a few of the basic uses for meeting notes. However, to get the full benefits of taking meeting minutes, it’s important to know how to take notes. Here, using a meeting notes template can be helpful.
Example Meeting Notes Template
Having a template ready for taking meeting notes can help you better organize your notes and ensure that you capture the most important information. Here’s an example of a meeting notes template that you could apply to your own team meeting minutes (or adapt to better suit your specific meeting management style):
Why is this meeting being held? What are the key goals of the meeting? Define objectives below:
Who is attending the meeting? What are their roles? Add list below:
Highlight the list of topics below. Adding timestamps can help keep the meeting moving along:
Are stakeholders sharing ideas? If so, record them below:
Prioritization of Issues
Which issues/meeting items are the most important? Establish a priority order below so the most important issues can be handled first:
What is the measure of success for this meeting/project/product? Establish your success criteria below:
Key Resource List
What resources should be used by employees following this meeting? Create a list (with appropriate links or file names) below:
Post-Meeting Action Items
What actions should employees take following the meeting? Who is responsible for each action item? Establish a list of action items and responsibilities below:
What were the key takeaways from the meeting? Summarize important notes and takeaways below:
Follow Up Schedule
After the meeting, it may be helpful to schedule follow-ups with various team members to check progress and make adjustments. Create a list of follow up meetings below:
Note: You may want to add or remove some sections to this meeting notes template based on the nature of the meeting or the specific needs of your team.
Best Practices for Meetings
When taking notes for a meeting, it’s important to follow a few best practices so you can capture comprehensive notes while avoiding wasting time and effort.
While using a meeting notes template is a good start, there are other best practices for meetings that you might want to follow to ensure you get the best possible impact from your team meetings:
- Assign Meeting Roles and Responsibilities Prior to the Meeting.
Giving people a clear role to fill during the meeting helps ensure that they pay close attention to it. For example, you could make sure that key stakeholders make their own mini-presentations during the meeting. This helps maximize the impact of the meeting by keeping employees engaged and actively participating.
- Have Several Methods of Capturing Notes/Ideas.
Instead of trying to record everything yourself, consider having multiple note-takers assigned to the meeting. These employees can compare notes after the meeting to put everything into a unified document post-meeting so nothing is missed. Additionally, making audio recordings and going back over them at a later date can help ensure that no important items were missed. Some video conferencing solutions even have automated transcription solutions that can turn the audio into written text for you (though they often struggle with accuracy, they can help you save time).
- Practice Active Listening Skills.
If employees are sharing ideas or information during the meeting, be sure to practice active listening techniques—be sure to hear them out, ask specific questions when appropriate to demonstrate that you’re listening, and pay attention to both the speaker’s tone and body language. If an employee has an especially good idea, provide some on-the-spot acknowledgement and make sure that, if used, the employee’s contribution is formally recognized and/or rewarded.
- Try to Prevent Distractions.
Unless necessary for the meeting, try to curtail the use of phones, laptops, and other devices as much as possible. Also, try to hold meetings in a distraction-free environment (such as excess noise pollution from people chatting in the background or active televisions not being used to show presentation materials). Moreover, meeting participants should avoid having side conversations while the active presenter is talking.
- Follow up with Stakeholders after the Meeting.
Even after the meeting is over, there is still a need to check up on stakeholders and project staff to verify how things are progressing. Holding follow up meetings to track progress towards goals can help employees stay focused and engaged with their work—especially if said follow ups highlight the employee’s contributions (either in the meeting or after it).
There are many more things you can do to make your meetings more meaningful.
Reach out to the adam.ai team to learn more.