Team meetings are very important in keeping a team calibrated, motivated, and directed down the path to success. Meetings are also where people can get to know each other, trade ideas, and debate on important matters that affect the company and its workforce. Movers and shakers are more often than not involved in these meetings and expect contributions from those in attendance.
Being asked to take meeting notes can be a daunting task. A lot of important information is at risk of being missed and lost for good if the note taker is not focused on the job at hand. To help, here are the 8 tactics for writing meeting notes perfectly that you can adopt.
What are meeting notes?
Meeting notes usually cover the important points in the meeting, the discussions as well as the details. Especially when you have members of the team who are working remotely, being able to capture the essentials and key points in a meeting is of utmost importance.
Being able to take meeting notes properly, translate them to a document that has flow, and share with everyone in the organization to provide clarity and direction is a learned skill. That’s why it’s important to know effective tactics first.
Notes or Minutes – what are the differences?
Meeting minutes have a structure to them, a standard. Minute takers are expected to be able to attribute a specific point raised or action made during the meeting to a specific time. Meeting minutes, as the name suggests, are a minute-by-minute account of everything that transpired during the meeting.
Meeting notes, on the other hand, are more relaxed, keeping the focus, instead, on points raised, insights, discussions, and ideas. Although both can still contain the basics like the attendees as well as the date and time, meeting notes can, more often than not, be more informal and subjective. Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s delve into the 8 tactics for writing meeting notes perfectly.
1. Get your ducks in a row
Whether or not you’re the designated note-taker, it’s always a good idea to prepare for a meeting beforehand. Taking notes, even just for yourself, is a very good practice for when you’re called upon to take notes.
Writing meeting notes should have a flow, albeit a little loose compared to minutes, so it’s always good to start with the basics. You can use the following list as a beginning of a structure for taking meeting notes:
· Date and time
· Number and names of attendees
· Course of action
· Follow-ups required
· Parked questions
2. Ready the tools
You don’t need to know shorthand to take meeting notes, although some might argue that knowing how to do it is pretty handy. All one really needs in writing meeting notes are a few essentials: a notepad, a pen, and a clear mind.
Some people choose to actually write down their notes while others use recording devices so they can replay the meeting afterward and take notes then. However, it’s always a good practice to take notes while the meeting is ongoing to make sure the information collected is fresh and accurate.
3. Templated success
An actual company meeting is not always the most ideal time to practice your note-taking skills or study how to write meeting notes, like it or not. Your bosses and peers may want to just get on with the agenda once the meeting gets started and you might have problems catching up to what’s being said and focusing if you’re conscious about your structure.
Check out your company’s shared drive for a meeting notes template that you can use. Some companies might also have instructional guides for how to take notes in a meeting as well. Take advantage of these templates and guides. You can tweak them as you go and may even come up with your own once you’re comfortable enough with the process.
4. Zero in on the essentials
The key to taking effective meeting notes is to focus on the important details. Clear your mind of the pleasantries and the small talk and focus on the actual brainstorming. It might be difficult with everyone talking at the same time sometimes but with practice and intense focus, you’ll be able to extract what’s important in the conversation.
Remember what the meeting is for and from there, remember what the key points are. Focus on the people and what’s being said.
Keep your sentences short, direct to the point. While you’re at it, keep your ears and mind open for the following:
· Questions and concerns raised
· Suggestions and recommendations
· Areas for improvement
· Action plans
· Assigned people
5. Stick to the basics
Effective meeting notes contain facts. Apart from everything that’s said, this includes attachments such as graphs, screenshots of reports, and other supporting documents that add substance to the actual meeting notes.
Think of your notes as the beginnings of a roadmap to improving the company’s current setup and when you look at it that way, you’ll understand how important note-taking really is. Then you’ll be able to focus on the fundamentals and your notes will really stand out and make an impact.
6. Quote in verbatim
It might be a little challenging for some, especially in the beginning but quoting speakers verbatim eliminates miscommunication, misconstrued messages, and confusion. Writing down who said what, verbatim, helps ensure no potentially significant insight goes wasted.
Instead of taking down full names, you can use initials instead and then focus on what they’re saying. This is where active listening helps a lot in writing meeting notes. It helps if you also have your little codes to help with speed and aid in accurate attribution.
7. Dot your I’s and cross your T’s
Before you excitedly email your finished meeting notes to everyone in your distribution list, take a moment to go over it. Set aside some time to proofread and edit when necessary. This is also needed if your notes are handwritten. Some of the important things may get lost on their way from paper to email body so take your time in your first forays. You’ll get faster over time.
Nothing can be more embarrassing than sending a document that’s filled with errors to the people you work with. You’ve put in the effort so you better make sure the output shows it. Check and recheck your finished notes before you send them out.
8. Sharing is caring
After you’re done proofreading and editing your meeting notes, it’s time to send them to the team. Check your distribution list to make sure everyone that counts is there and will be able to receive the document.
Make a copy and save that to your team’s shared drive, making the meeting notes available for everyone to view at a later time. This is also helpful for those who are not able to attend the meeting. They can come back to your notes and refer to them.
Practice with Bitrix24
Bitrix24 not only helps companies iron out the kinks with project and task management tools. You can also create and hold meetings using the software. Whether you’re planning on holding a video conference or an audio call to keep the team calibrated and motivated to stay productive, explore the many tools you can use through Bitrix24.