How To Write Meeting Minutes
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated 10 September 2022
Published 12 June 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Organisations discuss vital information during meetings. Minutes of meetings help serve as a reminder of the decisions and actions required after the meeting. There may be some members absent for the meeting or people may want to reference these notes to ensure they are on track. In this article, we explain what meeting minutes are, the step-by-step process on how to write minutes for meetings and a few tips to develop or improve your skills in writing minutes for a meeting.
What are the meeting minutes?
Meeting minutes are notes of matters discussed in a meeting and the resolutions made by the attendees. The minutes of the meeting describe the events of the meeting and are usually typed as an official record. Finally, after approval by the person in charge, the person writing the minutes may send them to the members or keep them for future reference.
How to write meeting minutes
Follow these steps to write the minutes of your meetings:
1. Prepare for the meeting
Preparation involves having a pen, notepad or a fully-charged laptop ready to write or type out your minutes. It's also important to check the agenda of the meeting in advance to familiarise yourself with the discussion. Where necessary, you can use your preparation time to make a list of the attendees. This enables you to focus on taking note of the discussed information once the meeting begins.
2. Choose your writing format
The best writing format should be the one that allows you to keep up with the events of the meeting while also taking notes. Short-hand writing has the benefit of helping you capture plenty of information as required. Writing only initials instead of full names for members and using acronyms you understand can increase your speed in getting the important information down.
3. Know what to capture
In a typical template, the most common fields to fill out include the following:
The name of the organisation
The purpose of the meeting
The time for the start and end of the meeting
The date and place of the meeting
A list of members present and absent, where applicable
Signature of the minute writer and the organisation leader
An agenda provided by the leader
4. Prepare your template
Using a template for writing meeting minutes makes your work easier. You may fill out the template before the meeting or as soon as you sit in the meeting venue. Once you find the best template, you can use it in subsequent meetings. Save your edited document for easy retrieval.
5. Take important notes
When the meeting begins, your focus should be on the important aspects of the meeting. This can keep you from needing to write an excessive amount of notes that you may not need in the end. Some important aspects include names of attendees who give presentations or reports. It also includes any assignments by the managers to specific people and the due dates for the assignments.
6. Proofread your notes
Once the meeting adjourns, read through your notes to be sure you don't leave out important information. It is also important to ask questions or seek clarification on points that were not well explained.
7. Make a final copy of your meeting minutes
The short-hand writing of meeting minutes should be typed in a format which is understandable to your colleagues. The best time to consolidate the meeting minutes is as soon as the meeting comes to an end. This is when the happenings of the meeting is still fresh in your mind. Assign a paragraph each for every important decision made. Keep the minutes of the meeting in the simple present tense throughout. You may number many pages and attach any other accompanying documents too.
8. Request approval from the leader
The minutes may have to be vetted or approved by the team leader. The leader may also send the document to other relevant personnel for signing.
9. Distribute the minutes
As the official writer of the meeting's minutes, your duty may also involve distributing the minutes to the members of the organisation. This should include even those who never attended the meeting. A paperless sharing system such as email may be preferable.
How do you write the minutes of the meeting in short form?
Meeting minutes can be in short form using pre-designed, simple templates. A typical short form template has the name of the organisation, date, location, list of attendees and the times of both the present and next meetings. It also contains three main sections as a summary, which include:
This section includes all major announcements made during the meeting. This captures any change of leadership and the addition of new members.
This is a summary of all the matters discussed and the outcomes. Any action items or assignments are also included in this section.
The round table is a summary of the status of each department within the organisation. It may report any new developments or proposals as desired within the department.
How detailed should meeting minutes be?
The minutes of the meeting should be brief and concise and should summarise the major events that happened during the meeting. There may be long debates and discussions during the meeting, but you do not need to write every word. All statements should be neutral. Personal observations should not be included.
How can you improve your skills in writing meeting minutes?
Minutes are very important because they serve as a record of the company's decisions and discussions. Knowing how to write meeting minutes and sharpening your skills in this area is thus essential. You can follow these tips to learn how to improve your skills in writing meeting minutes:
Embrace the template
Filling out a form is easier than starting your writing on a blank, new page. Using a template, you can organise your notes and stay consistent throughout your meetings.
Focus on writing the most important things
Focus on getting the details of the meeting and not the exact words. The purpose of writing meeting minutes is to capture the most important information. This entails the agenda, decisions taken, actions required, persons responsible for the actions and the time frame.
Learn to take notes by hand
Unlike typing on a laptop, writing by hand helps in better remembrance of what happened in the meeting. It also helps in you getting a deeper understanding of the concepts covered in the meeting.
Allow people to review your writing
Before signing the meeting minutes, allow your participants to review them. Giving the participants a chance to review the minutes helps them remember the actions and time frames to achieve after the meeting.
Edit your work
Once you type your notes, edit your writing to remove any unwanted information. Learn to use business language and polish your grammar. Sometimes, rewriting may be the only way to improve.
Type your notes as soon as possible
Type your notes while they are still in your short-term memory. Typing the information immediately after the meeting helps you remember more details.
Meet the chairperson in advance
Sometimes it pays to meet the chairperson before the meeting starts. Together with the chairperson, you may go through the agenda to determine the main points. When you have the main points, you are better prepared, and you will have a rough idea of what to expect. You will also know if the meeting is formal or informal. If the meeting is formal, minutes will be needed, and you can prepare the document beforehand.
Listen before you write
Before you write any point, listen. It helps you to figure out what to write and to summarise the discussion. If you miss an important point, take note and clarify at the end of the meeting or whenever it's appropriate.
Do an action review
Write every action from the previous meeting and summarise the progress of each of them. If the action is complete, you need not write it again. For each incomplete action, you may note them down and do a follow-up.
Sit near the chairperson
Sitting near the chairperson while taking meeting minutes is important to you as the writer. This sitting position is strategic for you as the writer of the minutes. Being the moderator of the meeting, the chairperson also helps you in clarification before writing.
Make use of a sitting chart
As the writer of the minutes of your meeting, it is a good idea to know the names of the attendees and their sitting positions. For in-person meetings in a conference room or when the meetings involve big groups of people, a sitting chart is vital. Using the chart, you can identify with ease, whoever speaks at a given time. This is important because you should have an accurate record of people who contribute during the meeting.
Include an image for better understanding
Sometimes, meetings involve drawings on whiteboards for better understanding and explanation. Photos are a better way of adding more explanation than using words only. You can take a snapshot of the drawing using a camera. Include the image as part of the meeting minutes for better understanding.
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