What comes to mind when you think of meeting notes? A court reporter furiously typing every word everyone has said? A pile of scrap papers with unrecognizable handwriting that you never get back to? An attachment sitting in your email that never gets opened? A tedious role no one wants to do?
Meeting notes are notorious for being ineffective and note-taking is often seen as a time-consuming, low ROI activity. However, if done right, note-taking could be the most crucial element to sustaining the success of your meeting.
Why do we need to take collective meeting notes?
Imagine this: you had a great meeting that results in clear decisions and next steps. You felt great walking out of the meeting room, but a week later, your (and everyone else’s) memory gets blurry. No one on the team is able to recall specific details. You have different versions of the decisions made. Tasks fall through the cracks and you find yourself rehashing old conversations.
With a proper record of your meeting outcomes, you don’t need to suffer through this. Taking effective meeting notes serves 3 key purposes:
Help the team achieve meeting results.
Use the meeting notes to clarify, redirect or facilitate the conversation and ensure the discussion is moving towards the meeting objective.
Help the team follow through on the results.
After decisions are made and next steps identified, everyone on the team can act with confidence and reference the notes at any time to stay aligned.
Keep everyone on the same page.
Sharing the meeting summary with people who did not attend the meeting will help them stay informed of the critical outcomes. No longer do you need to sit through a meeting just to be in the loop.
Taking notes during a meeting does not need to be a time-consuming, distracting practice. Follow the guidelines and tips below to make effective note-taking your most powerful secret weapon for meeting success.
Now you’ve learned the do’s and don’ts of writing effective meeting notes. It is time to put these into action.
Start where you’re comfortable.
If you are ready to make collective notes a regular part of your team meetings, volunteer to be first to take notes in your next meeting. Role model productive note-taking behavior and then ask someone else to volunteer at the following meeting.
If you are not yet ready to take notes for the team, you can practice sharpening your note-taking skills on your own. For example, try to capture critical information in your next 1-on-1 meeting and at the end, share a quick summary with your manager.
Find the right tool to organize your meeting notes.
Everyone has his or her own system of organizing meeting notes. Whether you prefer taking handwritten notes or using technology tools, it will be great to keep all your relevant notes in one place so you don’t need to waste time searching.
You can use a paper notebook, word or google document, or note-taking app to capture information. Consider using a technology tool like Meeteor, which is designed specifically for organizing critical meeting information and providing quick and easy access to past information and seamless note-sharing.