Importance of Meeting Minutes
Meeting Minutes help with communication – they ensure people have a common understanding of what the meeting was about. They are particularly helpful for formal meetings like Project Boards or Steering Groups as they serve as a permanent record. They can be especially useful for people who were not able to attend the meeting in person.
Here are 10 tips for writing good minutes.
1. Write minutes while you still remember
Don’t leave writing up your minutes until the meeting is a distant memory. If you can’t remember everything, get someone else to read your minutes and clarify any points before you send out your final version. Even better, get someone else to take notes, and then compare your version with their version to produce the final version.
2. Start with an action review
Whether or not you reviewed the actions from last time at the beginning of the meeting, put them at the beginning of the minutes. Write down all the actions from the last meeting and a summary of progress against them. If the action was completed, don’t bother to write it out again. Instead, add a line that says ‘all other actions were completed or are no longer relevant’.
3. Document actions and owners
During the meeting, write down the actions and who will do them. In the minutes, include these actions in the flow of the text. You can also include an action summary at the end of the minutes. Tabular format works well for this.
4. Record who was there
You will have included the names of attendees on the calendar invite and also the agenda, but who actually turns up to the meeting could well be different!
5. Include images
If you use flip charts or mind mapping software in the meeting, include links to the documents, screenshots or embedded files. You can take photos of what you wrote on flip charts with a phone camera – the resolution will be good enough to include in the minutes.
6. Use a standard template
If your company does not have a standard template for minutes, make one up, or ask your PMO. Using a standard template saves you time. Your attendees will also get used to reading the minutes in that format, especially if the meeting is held regularly.
7. Document decisions
Use your minutes to confirm the decisions that were taken in the meeting. For example, make a note of any project change requests that were approved or rejected.
8. Use tables
A tabular format works well for minutes. Use three columns: item number, discussion summary and action owner. People can scan down the right-hand column for their initials to see what actions they picked up. This format works well if your minutes record lots of actions. If the meeting is mainly discussion with few actions, this column then looks bare. Choose a format that works for you.
9. Send minutes out quickly
Ideally, you should send out minutes within the week. Sooner is better. And they should definitely be circulated before the next meeting! Send them to people who weren’t able to attend as well, so they can see what they missed.
10. Have minutes!
The project needs a record of what was discussed, so you should record the meeting. It’s OK not to have minutes for informal meetings, but most meetings will benefit from having a written record.