Meeting minutes are simple yet important documents that can improve productivity and communication within teams. Although it can take some time to learn how to take effective meeting minutes, the process is worthwhile. Minutes can ensure teams are working based on the most recent decisions and meeting outcomes. In this blog, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about taking meeting minutes, including how AI can automate this process for you.
What are Meeting Minutes?
Meeting minutes are a detailed, written record that summarises what happened during a meeting. This document acts as an official record that includes key discussion points, decisions, action items, and attendees. Minutes serve as historical records and provide a clear, concise reference point for important and essential information. For those who were not present during the meeting, this document can get them up to speed on those all-important conversations and decisions.
The Purpose and Importance of Meeting Minutes
If attendees are taking their own personal notes, why are meeting minutes necessary? In some cases, meeting minutes are a formality for meetings that require official records, and for certain organisations such as non-profits, government entities, and schools. However, formal or informal minutes can be a useful tool for all kinds of teams and companies.
Critical Communication Tool
Meeting minutes can be a powerful resource and critical communication tool for teams of all sizes. This document allows concise, factual information to be shared throughout an organisation and amongst team members.
Everyone can be sure they are taking appropriate action and working towards the agreed outcomes without having to attend every meeting. Minutes can highlight major changes and decisions, next steps, and action items for individuals and teams. This promotes transparency throughout the working environment and allows those who were not present to understand why and how certain decisions were made.
These official, summative documents can serve as historical documents and reference points for important information. Meeting minutes offer a historical record of key discussions, major decisions, and long-term plans. This can be used to understand how a team or company has progressed and why particular decisions were made.
For this reason, minutes can provide legal protection by documenting due diligence, and act as a communication tool for stakeholders, regulatory bodies, and other external groups. This is typically the case for formal meeting minutes and for instances where meeting minutes are a requirement. However, informal minutes can still be purposeful for smaller teams to document their progression over time, and understand how their decisions have influenced broader outcomes.
Meeting minutes are ideal for ensuring productive, purpose-driven meetings that promote accountability. For example, past meetings can inform future meetings and agenda items. This allows teams to have productive meetings that build upon the previous action items. Minutes also serve as a reminder of the deadlines for action items and who was accountable for that item. Teams can use this information to set purposeful meetings and follow up with the right people to stay on track.
How to Write Meeting Minutes
Capturing the Essential Information
As the minute taker, what should you be listening out for? This will be different depending on the team, company, or type of meeting. However, there are some general details that all meeting minutes should have, including:
- Title: This could be a title for the meeting itself (‘Project Kick-Off’) or the group that is meeting (‘Team 1 Meeting’).
- Date, time, and location: These general details are useful for keeping things organised and easy to reference in the future.
- Purpose: It can help to provide some context about why this meeting is happening and the overall expected outcome.
- Attendees: Create a list of attendees and note yourself as the minute taker. You can add additional context, such as who people are, or their roles.
- Agenda: The agenda can help you follow the meeting topics that are to be discussed. Each agenda item can serve as a section in your minutes. You can fill these out with key outcomes, decisions, and action items.
- Next meeting: For accountability and clarity, it is useful to note the date and place of the next meeting that will occur. This can provide a timeline and fixed deadlines for the action items.
Those are the basic elements of a meeting minutes document. You can also include a range of additional information such as:
- Detailed action items: You can further clarify action items by noting down the action that is to be taken and who is responsible for it.
- Agenda items: In some cases, there may be other information to document for agenda items, such as recommendations, challenges, or proposed solutions.
- Motions and vote count: It can be important to document any votes or motions that occurred to highlight why decisions were made and who played a role. This promotes complete transparency.
- Other information: Depending on the type of meeting, you might include project status updates or next steps, such as research that needs doing or follow-ups that need to take place.
- Supplementary documents: If documents were referenced or presentations were made, you can make a note of these and share them as part of your meeting brief when you share the meeting minutes.
How to Take and Format Effective Meeting Minutes
In some cases, such as for formal meetings, it is recommended that minutes follow Robert’s Rules of Order. This framework is most useful for official decision-making meetings, such as board meetings. However, many also use this framework because it provides structure. For informal meetings, you can format your minutes using headers followed by brief descriptions, and use the meeting agenda as an outline.
You can also write effective, well-formatted minutes using these tips:
- Record information in chronological order and take minutes in real time
- Be concise and summarise factual information
- Provide enough context for those who were unable to attend
- Use sentence fragments, initials, and acronyms to make minute taking easier
- Follow pre-existing templates
Free Templates for Minute Taking
Templates can make it easier to organise, keep track of, and share meeting minutes. These templates can reduce extra work, such as editing and formatting and allow you to follow a predefined structure during the meetings. It will be easier to listen, summarise, and outline the key informational points if you can focus on listening rather than trying to format your meeting minutes.
Here are four free templates that can be used for formal and informal minutes:
How to Use AI to Take Meeting Minutes Automatically
Templates can be a great way to boost your efficiency as a minute taker. However, manual minute taking can still be a time-consuming and tedious process. Being able to take effective minutes requires you to multitask by actively listening and summarising information. After meetings, you also then need to edit and format those notes before sharing them. Instead of this manual minute taking process, what if AI could produce concise, actionable minutes for you?
Introducing Jamworks for Business
Jamworks is an AI-powered tool that records, transcribes, and summarises your meetings. It is often recommended that minute takers record meetings to refer back to if needed. However, Jamworks takes this a step further by doing note taking and minute taking for you.
This tool uses AI to summarise meetings into key highlights and action items. You can then use the Jambot to ask questions and get the information you need from the meeting material. For example, “What goals did we hit in Q2?” or “What were the main action items decided for Q3?”. This can save you time and allow you to focus on being present in the meeting. Instead, Jamworks can help you to produce clear, actionable meeting minutes that are both shareable and accessible.
Jamworks was designed with inclusivity and accessibility in mind. This allows those who might have disabilities, learning difficulties, or who are neurodivergent to become effective minute takers. For other team members, Jamworks content can be shared with them in an accessible way which allows them to stay up to speed too.
Click here to sign up for a free 14-day trial of Jamworks for Business.