Thursday, 18 September 2014

Meeting Minutes Tips

Paper with writing on it and a pen
Manual Meeting Minutes
When you're trying to plan something that involves multiple parties and discussions and follow ups, keeping accurate meeting minutes is probably one of your most important activities

I know that most people know this. If you're anything like the me-6-months-ago, you would know and understand why meeting minutes are important, but not really have a good idea of what constitutes good meeting minutes and how to go about managing them. 

Luckily, in the last 6 months, I have been able to observe and learn from a pro meeting-minute taker and project manager (let's call him Minute-Man for the purposes of this post). 

Here are things that I've learnt from Minute-Man:

  • Not only are meeting minutes important, but so is communicating the minutes to all relevant parties who couldn't make the meeting (either via a separate call and/or including them on the mail of the meeting minutes).
  • Use your minutes to track who is responsible for what - then FOLLOW UP a few days later with a mail.
  • When you're not sure where the conversation is going, use phrases like "Sorry guys, I'm battling to follow where we are going with this point." or
    "I'm a bit confused as to what needs to be done here. Are there any specific actions that we need to note down or possible follow up discussions that need to take place?"
  • Keeping time is important.
  • If you see you are starting to go over the allotted time, check with everyone to see if they can carry on for an extra half hour or so, or if another meeting needs to be scheduled for a later stage.
  • Refer to previous minutes to check up on previous actions.
  • Before the meeting, have a basic agenda and discussion topics listed down and add notes to them as the meeting progresses.
  • Use coloured highlights to note attendance and actions.
  • Sometimes you need to have the same meeting with a second group of parties if you need their input on certain aspects of the project.
  • Label you minutes in a logical way. For example if you have a weekly update meeting label them something like 01 - Update Meeting 18 Sept. Create a special folder where you keep the Update Meeting minutes.
  • Lastly, be cheerful and upbeat (and mean it!) - you can hear it in the persons voice, and when the voice is the only thing you can interact with for a person, it makes a huge difference!
  • Use words like DONE and OPEN to note the status of actions as you go through them.

If you are needing a place to start - you can check out an example of meeting minutes below. You can also download my meeting minutes template and use that as a starting point for your own meeting minutes. Happy minuting!

Example Meeting minutes: 02 - Planning Meeting
Meeting Minutes template*: Meeting Minutes Template

* If the page tells you it can't display this document, don't worry, it's because it's saved as a Microsoft Office Template file. Download it, when you open it, it will open as a document that you can then save in doc format and not template format.

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