1. Evaluate and prepare: Assess the need for every meeting and prepare accordingly. Remember that not all communications need to be in meeting format, some can be handled asynchronously or via email.
2. Be focused and efficient: During the meeting, stay focused on the key discussion points and make use of shorthand and digital tools for efficiency. Your aim should be to capture the essence of the meeting, not a verbatim transcript.
3. Review and share: Review and organize your notes soon after the meeting to maintain clarity. Sharing your notes with all relevant parties ensures transparency and facilitates timely follow-up on action items.
What are meeting notes?
Have you ever left a meeting only to realize you've completely forgotten the key points that were discussed? Or perhaps you scribbled down an action item, but when you revisit your hasty notes, the context escapes you. Not only can such scenarios impair your productivity, but they can also appear unprofessional to your peers. The solution? Taking better meeting notes!
Meeting notes, also known as minutes, are written records that capture the essence of a meeting - discussions, decisions, and action items. By enhancing your note-taking skills, you can impress colleagues with your attention to detail and drive productivity by having a clear record of every meeting at your fingertips.
The Benefits of Taking Good Meeting Notes
1. Enhance memory retention
The act of taking notes helps the retention of information, helping you remember critical points discussed during the meeting. A German psychologist, Hermann Ebbinghaus, came up with a concept called the Forgetting Curve which suggests that our ability to recall information decreases exponentially over time unless we actively review and enforce it. High-quality meeting notes ensure that key information isn't lost over time therefore enhancing your efficiency and effectiveness.
2. Promote accountability
Meeting notes create a formal record of decisions and allocated tasks. They provide transparency, clarify who's responsible for what action item, and serve as a reminder of each individual's commitments. If done well, they also provide plenty of context for the action item making it much easier to complete without procrastination.
3. Facilitate communication
Detailed meeting notes can effectively communicate the outcomes of a meeting to those who couldn't attend. They serve as an official record, enabling everyone to stay in the loop regarding the latest developments. This is particularly important for asynchronous and remote teams because it ensures that even those in different time zones or schedules stay updated, fostering a more inclusive and flexible work environment.
4. Increase efficiency
Meeting notes streamline workflows by providing a quick reference guide to past discussions and decisions. They save valuable time that could otherwise be lost in trying to recall specific details or clarify misunderstandings.
Take better meeting notes
How to Take Better Meeting Notes
Before the meeting
1. Evaluate the need for a meeting
Before anything else, the first place to start is by asking yourself if the meeting is even necessary. The most productive meetings are those that warrant collaborative problem-solving, decision-making, or brainstorming. If the meeting can be replaced with a simple email or an asynchronous discussion, it might not be a good use of everyone's time.
2. Prepare in advance
Familiarize yourself with the meeting's agenda. Understand the purpose, topics for discussion, and expected outcomes. This can help you identify the key points that you should pay special attention to when taking notes.
During the meeting
3. Stay focused
Concentrate on the key points being discussed. Ensure that you capture the decisions made, action items, and significant discussion points. Remember, the goal is not to write a transcript of the meeting, but to record the essence of the conversations.
4. Use a template
A meeting notes template can help you save time in meetings. Doing so saves time and energy thinking about how to structure or coordinate the notes, which can instead be used to engage in the meeting more carefully and noting essential elements accordingly.
After the meeting
5. Review and organize
Immediately after the meeting, while the discussion is still fresh in your mind, review your notes. Clear up any ambiguities and organize the information logically.
6. Share your notes
After reviewing and organizing your notes, distribute them to all attendees and relevant parties. This ensures everyone is on the same page and can act on the discussed points. Craft makes it extra easy to share meeting notes: one click of a button generates a simple share link which can be sent to all attendees.
Bonus tips for effective meeting notes
7. Use a digital tool
Instead of writing notes by hand, digital tools like Craft Docs can greatly enhance the note-taking process. They make notes more organized, searchable, and easily accessible to everyone in the team, regardless of location.
8. Record decisions and assign action items
Always record critical decisions made during the meeting and note down who is responsible for what. This ensures accountability and follow-up after the meeting.
9. Use clear and concise language
Keep your notes straightforward. Use simple language to capture the key points and avoid jargon unless it's necessary for the context.
10. Use bullet points
Bullet points make your notes easier to read and understand. They help break down complex information into digestible chunks.
11. Keep a consistent format
Sticking to a consistent note-taking format will make it easier for you and others to locate information in your notes.
Key Items to be Included in Meeting Notes
1. Meeting details: Basic details such as the date, time, location (physical or virtual), and participants should be included for reference.
2. Agenda items: Briefly list the topics that were meant to be covered in the meeting. This helps frame the context of the notes.
3. Key discussions: Summarize the key points of discussion for each agenda item. This could include varying viewpoints, questions raised, and any consensus or disagreements.
4. Decisions made: Note down all the decisions that were reached during the meeting. This is crucial as it often forms the basis of future actions.
5. Action items: Highlight any tasks that were assigned during the meeting, including who is responsible for each one and the deadline for completion.
6. Next steps: Detail the next steps to be taken, if any. This could include follow-up meetings, research, or any other activities.
Meeting notes are essential tools in the professional world, helping to enhance memory retention, promote accountability, facilitate communication, increase efficiency, and enable asynchronous work. By incorporating the strategies and tips discussed in this guide, you can transform your note-taking practice and elevate the productivity of your meetings. Remember, the quality of your meeting notes can significantly influence the success of your team's collaborative efforts.