How to take meeting minutes effectively

Many adjustments have been made in workflow and company dynamics with the current state of remote work and virtual meetings. The need for effective and efficient processes has become compulsory, especially for small businesses and startups. One such process is working online and over virtual communications; this process is vital as it relates directly to the business's productivity. Meetings, now virtual, have always been a challenging process, especially when dealing with a large team or group of participants. A lot is often said in these meetings that go undocumented, small pieces of information lost, leading to a loss of nuance and depth in understanding.  

Taking meeting minutes is a standard practice in every business. It allows for a consistent record of the communications and discussions sent to the invitees for their perusal and archival. This task has historically been given to a secretarial staff member, who has studied and has experience with the practice. Most new businesses do not have the budget to hire a staff member whose job is so highly specified; they tend to rely on one of the junior staff members taking on the role. This article aims to help someone understand and learn how to make efficient and effective notes during a virtual meeting.

Meeting minutes: what are they? 

Meeting minutes record the actions taken in a meeting, the essential points discussed, and the inputs from various employees. This information is saved for the purpose of revisiting it later.

They are vital as they keep the crucial bits of information stored for any future follow-up or reference.

How to prepare for a meeting

Have a conversation about the meeting with the chairperson in advance.

The chairperson will be in charge of organising and managing the meeting. This individual will be the first point of contact if there are any queries or if someone needs any clarifications. 

1. Identify critical points to take note of

Constantly taking notes during meetings is not the point of this process. First, take some time to get composed. Make sure to focus on what the attendees are saying, make considerations of the speech that needs to be recorded. If there is still a struggle to identify what should be written, this may indicate that insufficient preparation or research has been done. It would be beneficial to have a look at previous minute notes.

2. Focus on listening

Learning when it is best to listen will happen as soon as there is confidence in determining which parts of the conversation are worth being recorded. There won't be a need to record every aspect of the meeting, but it is still necessary to concentrate on what's being said.

3. Use a template

Minute takers are likely to take minutes on many occasions. When creating a new document for each meeting, time can easily be saved if templates are used. Using templates will help you understand what information you need to include and what you should listen to and make a note of. This ensures that the business documents are always consistent and professional.

Steps to follow when taking minutes in a meeting

1. Review previous meeting minutes

Put the minutes from the previous meeting at the start of this meeting's minutes. This is for the purpose of review regarding any unresolved matters from the last meeting. Add a line at the top of the minutes section mentioning that all the other actions have been completed and are no longer relevant.

2. Write meeting minutes when the memory is still fresh

Do not leave the writing of notes to a later time; the meeting will be a distant memory at that point. If there is a struggle to remember everything, get a colleague to read the minutes and clarify any specific issues before sending out the final version. A better idea would be getting another colleague to take notes and then compare the versions to create the final version. Use the meeting agenda for jogging the memory on the topics that were discussed.

3. Record actions and speakers

As the meeting progresses, write down the new actions from this meeting, mentioning who the speakers are. Make sure to include these actions as they flow in the text. An action summary can be included at the end of the minutes. A table format can work well in this method. It is important to remember to include the names of the people who will be working on these actions. If possible, add a date by which these individuals are going to have the task completed.

4. Take attendance

The names of the attendees will need to be included on the calendar invite and the agenda. The people who show up for the meeting will then be marked off with special acknowledgment for those who did not. At the start of the session, take note to reflect those that attended and those who sent apologies at the last minute.

5. Use images

During the meeting, use flip charts and mind mapping software, including links to the documents, screenshots of materials, or embedded files.

Take photos of the minutes written on flip charts with a phone camera — the resolution is often good enough to include in the minutes.

CircleLoop offers call recording for business phones as a feature that can integrate with various other systems. This feature is bound to make the process of taking meeting minutes easier. Calls are recorded and stored in a cloud and can be accessed by the company whenever they need them. These recordings are only deleted after a full year on the cloud. Make wise decisions and choose the new efficient way of hosting virtual meetings.