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Emily Liu Dec 16, 2021 5:22:14 AM 9 min read

How to Take Meeting Minutes That Capture the Right Details

Unless your team members share the same brain, they probably won’t remember the exact same details about each meeting they attend. When everyone has a different narrative in their head, trying to figure out who heard what and what decisions were actually made can feel a lot like trying to figure out which came first: the chicken or the egg. But when you know how to take meeting minutes, you can get your team on the same page without second guessing yourself.

Here, we'll explain what meeting minutes are and how you can become a great minute-taker for your organization.

What are meeting minutes?

Meeting minutes are an official record of a meeting that outline what occurred, what was decided, and what needs to be done. It's a document that meeting attendees can use for future reference and that absentees can use to catch up with the rest of your team. Whether you're running a board meeting, hosting a brainstorming session, or meeting with clients, good meeting minutes can be your team's historical account of what took place.

With a written record of all your meetings, your team members will be more aligned and accountable for their responsibilities. This means more productivity and better decision-making across your organization.

How to take meeting minutes in 4 steps

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Effective meeting minutes are organized meeting notes that are concise, accurate, and cover key points. Creating a healthy balance between saying too much and not including enough can take practice, but following these four steps can help any aspiring note-taker extraordinaire get started.

1. Create a meeting minutes template

If you've ever seen an entry on your Notes app that made absolutely zero sense, you know that great note-taking isn't as simple as jotting stuff down. Productive meeting minutes follow a template. This helps you stay organized and capture the right details in the right place. As you start following a consistent meeting minutes template, your team members will know what to expect, so they can easily find the information they need.

Meeting minutes templates may differ depending on the type of meeting you're having. For instance, a formal corporate board meeting will likely follow a stricter meeting minutes format than a small sales team meeting in a startup. However, it's good practice to include these five sections in all of your minutes

Organization name

Though it may seem redundant to start your meeting minutes with your company's name, doing so can add some consistency to all your official records. To make it even clearer who should pay attention, you can even include a relevant client's name, project name, or department at the top of your document.

Date, time, and location

Recording the date and time of the meeting can keep all your most recent minutes organized in the midst of all your previous meeting minutes. Make sure to note the venue where you met if relevant, too. For virtual calls, noting the service you used (for example, Zoom or Skype) can help you more easily find recordings if needed.

List of attendees

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Roll call! This section is where you can take note of all your meeting participants. Think of it like an attendance sheet that can help you figure out who's done their homework and who needs to read through your recap the next day.

This section should also note who's taking meeting notes (even if that's you).

You can also include absentees here. Don't worry — you're not doing it to put them on blast. This can be an important part of your record if you need to make a quorum or take a vote (especially relevant for board members).

Meeting agenda

When you're learning how to take meeting minutes, you need to learn how to create a meeting agenda, too. When you have an agenda, you can break down your minutes into a handful of key sections, under which you'll take your real-time notes. Meeting agendas are like icing on cupcakes for meeting minutes — they make your notes so much better (and more beautiful).

Action items

Want to know a cringe-worthy stat? Only 11% of workers say all their meetings are productive. Preparing a section that summarizes decisions and action items helps your team members come out of every meeting with key takeaways that help them do their job.

2. Capture the most important details

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Once you've created your template, you need to know how to take meeting minutes. Some information can be completed ahead of time (like your meeting location and company name), but when your meeting starts, you'll want to note the time and list of attendees.

Then, start logging key details under each agenda item as you hear them. You can include important ideas, requests, decisions, and more. Feel free to use acronyms, initials, sentence fragments, and other short-hand code while you're typing. To be sure everyone can make sense of it later, take time to revise before you send your meeting notes to your team.

Keep in mind that you're taking meeting minutes, not recording a play-by-play of your meeting. Your team members don't need everything on record. No need to write down jokes (good or bad) or when your meeting leader coughs. A handful of bullet points per agenda item usually does the trick. However, your team may have specific preferences for what to include, and these can change over time.

3. Summarize key decisions and action items

Once your meeting is over, create a summary of the most important decisions made. In addition, list action items. Include when they're due and who's responsible for them. Starting each action item with a verb (for example, "build website template") can help your team members get to action fast.

When people scroll down to this section of your meeting minutes, they should quickly understand a clear takeaway from your meeting.

The final section of your meeting minutes can also include the adjournment time and when the next meeting will take place.

4. Proofread and share

Before you share your meeting notes with the team, read through and spell-check your minutes. Grammatical errors often happen when you're typing fast. You don't want to make the embarrassing mistake of mistaking "their," "there," and "they're."

Also look out for any short-hand that wouldn't make sense to anyone but you. For instance, not everyone will know that "sznl decor" means "seasonal decorations."

Improve your meeting minutes with Anchor AI

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When a meeting adjourns, it's easy to forget exactly what was said and decided. Designating one person to take clear, organized notes can help you keep all your team members on the same page, whether or not they were able to attend. 

The best part is, learning how to take meeting minutes only takes four steps. Once you create a template, which should include a pre-made meeting agenda, all you need to do is take real-time notes, summarize, and share.

With Anchor AI, taking meeting minutes is even easier. Our software automatically highlights action items, meeting participants, and more for you — all while transcribing every second of your conversation. Our smart, searchable transcripts can replace your minutes or streamline your workflow if you need to follow a specific template. Join the Anchor AI waitlist to be one of the first to test it out.

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