Knowing how to take effective meeting minutes is a crucial skill for professionals at all levels. Having the ability and knowledge to capture and document key discussions and decisions is essential for maintaining productivity and accountability. 

But how do you take minutes that can elevate your meetings?

This article guides you through the process of taking effective meeting minutes by highlighting: 

  • The definition of meeting minutes;
  • The main benefits of documenting;
  • Primary tips that can boost the value of your meeting minutes.

What Are Meeting Minutes?

The term “meeting minutes” originates from the Latin word “minute,” which means “small notes.” In medieval times, monastic orders were used to keep track of their meetings and decisions in minutes (small notes), which were concise records of the proceedings. 

Over time, taking minutes spread to other organizations and formal gatherings.

To this date, meeting minutes still serve as official documentation that captures the key points and outcomes of a meeting. It also acts as a reference for participants and non-participants, helping maintain effective communication and accountability within organizations. 

What Should You Include When Writing Meeting Minutes?

Descending from the originators of the practice, meeting minutes are simply short notes that document the key discussions, action items, and decisions from a meeting. Minutes aren’t used to document every discussion from the meeting but rather to highlight only the most important parts. 

There are different types of meeting minutes, depending on the nature of the organization or the meeting itself. You can have a formal or informal setting where minutes are needed. All these different types of minutes have varying structures that you can follow. 

However, regardless of the meeting structure, there are a few things that should be included in a minutes document, such as: 

    • Meeting information: You ought to include the key meeting details, such as the date, time, and the purpose (or name) of the meeting. You can include the location if participating in a physical or hybrid virtual meeting.
    • Main objectives or agenda: Every meeting should have a key objective or agenda. You should learn how to create an effective meeting agenda that helps you to expect the outcomes of the meeting, as well as know the order to run the meeting.
    • Discussion summary: When writing meeting minutes, provide a brief overview of the discussions for each agenda item, only focusing on the main points. 
    • Decisions and actions: Every meeting minutes should include the key decisions made during the meeting, including the specifics of the people responsible for various activities, their expectations, and the timeline. 

What is the Objective of Creating Meeting Minutes?

Meeting minutes provide crucial documentation that can be of significance to an organization. These documents have various benefits and objectives, including: 

Record keeping

Minutes provide documentation of what transpired during a meeting. They are crucial in recording the key discussions, decisions, and action items assigned during organizational meetings. Moreover, they can act as a historical reference for future meetings.

Effective communication

The minutes of a meeting facilitate effective communication within an organization. These documents enable participants to share meeting outcomes with relevant non-participants and other stakeholders. 

Moreover, meeting minutes are structured in an easy-to-understand format that fosters clarity and ensures other team members are well-aligned with key decisions. 

Transparency and accountability

Well-written meeting minutes can be used to hold individuals or teams accountable for their assigned tasks. 

Minutes promote transparency by ensuring that all the meeting discussions, decisions, and assigned responsibilities can be easily accessible for reference, enabling effective follow-up and progress tracking.

How To Take Effective Meeting Minutes

There are technically four stages involved when taking effective meeting minutes. They include: 

  • The preparation stage

This is one of the most crucial stages, as it can make or break your experience when capturing the minutes. To know how to take meeting minutes, you have to be well-prepared to do so in different ways, such as: 

  • Familiarizing yourself with the meeting agenda;
  • Gathering the necessary materials or background information;
  • Preparing a template to be used in the minutes-writing process. 

When you know what exactly the meeting is all about, you can be better placed to identify and capture the main discussion and action items.

  • Active listening and note-taking

During the meeting, the person taking meeting notes should be actively listening to understand the context and identify the key discussions. 

Rather than attempting to transcribe every word spoken during the meeting, the minute-taker should focus on summarizing the main points and outcomes of the discussions. 

Moreover, as they are actively engaged in the discussions, these individuals also can jot down the rationale behind certain decisions made during the meeting. 

  • Compilation and organization 

In most cases, the minutes-taker will first take notes and summaries of the key discussions and decisions made during the meeting. Thereafter, they rely on these notes to write effective meeting minutes, structuring them in a clear and logical manner.

  • Review and distribution

The final stage of creating meeting minutes involves revising the compiled minutes for accuracy and clarity. If the meeting minutes show completeness, they can be shared or distributed to the relevant stakeholders. 

However, if any reviews and edits are needed, they can be amended before the final copy is distributed to others.

4 Steps To Take Effective Meeting Minutes

So, what are the key considerations to enable you to take effective meeting minutes based on these four stages? 

Step 1: Preparation 

Many things with good success rates always begin with a plan. This includes when taking meeting minutes.

Before the meeting, ensure to have a good plan on how you want to go about it, including: 

  • Knowing who will take the minutes (the minute-taker);
  • Determining the objectives and agenda of the meeting. The agenda should be brief, even if you have different discussion items. The same applies if you are curating the agenda for a 1-on-1 meeting.
  • Identifying the best means of taking good records of the discussion and preparing them;
  • Note down the basics of the meeting minutes before the meeting starts, such as the date, name of the meeting, agenda, etc.

Alternatively, you can use a meeting minutes template to make your work easier.

If you are the one taking the minutes or using a meeting minutes app, here are a few questions to get the answers for that significantly boost your preparations: 

  • What is the most important goal of the meeting?
  • What is the main agenda of the meeting?
  • What is the most important decision you hope to make during the meeting?
  • Will there be a likelihood of having action items during the meeting? If yes, who’s likely to get assigned?
  • Do you need to understand any background or context before the meeting begins?
  • Are there any pre-meeting materials or documents?

Step 2: Documentation 

During the meeting, it is important that you are actively listening to enable you to take effective meeting takeaways. When doing so, only document the most important discussions, decisions, and action items.

Thereafter, you can summarize the main points or arguments made by the participants, noting any vital considerations made during the meeting. 

However, being able to concentrate, actively taking part in the discussions, and recording the meeting minutes can be a daunting task, especially if you are also leading the meeting. This is why specialized meeting tools, such as Krisp’s AI Meeting Assistant, can be incredibly beneficial. 

The tool gets you your meeting transcriptions using the power of advanced Artificial Intelligence. The AI meeting assistant can identify speakers during the meeting, capturing and noting down everything they are saying without the need for extensive edits after that. 

Moreover, you also get a summarized version of the transcription that highlights the key discussions, decisions, and action items. This way, you can remain active during the meeting and still get a full transcription and notes of the meeting using the power of AI.

Here are a few tips that can be helpful when you want to know how to take good meeting minutes: 

  1. Know when it is best to just focus on listening: You don’t have to jot down everything from the meeting. If you understand the meeting objectives and agenda, you can know when to expect important discussions and points to be raised. Moreover, you can use a reliable AI note-taker to capture important discussions on your behalf.  
  2. Write objectively: Meeting minutes should be written objectively, free from bias and personal opinions. 
  3. Seek clarification: Minutes provide accurate documentation of the key discussion points made during a meeting. This is why, when you do not clearly understand something, it would be prudent to seek clarification rather than input incorrect information. 

Step 3: Compilation

It is advisable that you promptly review your notes or transcriptions while the discussions are still fresh in your mind. Take your time to structure the minutes in a clear and logical manner, following your pre-set template. 

As you organize the minutes, it is important to consider the readability of the document. This means using headings, subheadings, and numbering to make the document easier to skim through. 

There are many key considerations when compiling and organizing the meeting minutes and making them more effective. Some of the most important considerations include: 

  • Review your notes thoroughly to ensure accuracy, clarity, and completeness;
  • Structure the minutes logically;
  • Summarize discussions succinctly;
  • Highlight decisions and actions;
  • Use formatting techniques.

Step 4: Distribution

Once the meeting minutes have been reviewed and approved as a true reflection of the key discussion points during the meeting, you can go ahead and share them. 

Sometimes, even before sharing the minutes with other stakeholders, it may have to get approval from relevant individuals. If they leave comments and feedback, it is important to incorporate them before sharing them with other stakeholders. 

Here are a few extra tips to consider when distributing the meeting minutes: 

  • Timeliness: Aim to distribute the minutes shortly after the meeting while the discussions remain fresh in everyone’s minds. Prompt distribution allows participants to review the minutes and take necessary actions accordingly.
  • Use the appropriate distribution method: Knowing how to write meeting minutes is one part of the equation, and knowing how to share them is another. Select a suitable method for sharing the minutes based on the preferences and communication channels of the meeting participants. 
  • Use a clear and informative subject line: Assuming you are distributing the meeting minutes via email, it is advisable to use a clear and informative subject line that accurately reflects the content and purpose of the email. Not only does this enable the recipients to understand what is in the email, but it also makes searching for them much easier.
  • Ensure accessibility and readability: Another way to make your meeting minutes more effective is to share them in a format that is easily accessible and readable by the recipients. For instance, you may use PDF or Google Docs format, which can easily be read and accessed by many.

Elevating Your Meeting Minutes Experience With Krisp

Krisp takes the heavy lifting out of your meetings, thanks to the advanced AI Meeting Assistant. Krisp works in the background and transcribes your entire meetings non-intrusively. This means you don’t require to download or install any plugins or software. 

Krisp can identify the speakers and jot down what these individuals say during a meeting. What’s more, you can get a summarized version of the meeting transcripts, highlighting only the most important discussions. 

Try out Krisp today and enjoy unlimited meeting transcriptions and meeting notes with clear action items with a free, no-strings-attached, 7-day trial. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you take minutes in a meeting?

When taking minutes in a meeting, it is important to listen actively and capture the key points. For example, you can summarize the discussions, decisions, and actions taken during the meeting. 

How can I improve my minute-taking skills?

To improve your minute-taking skills, consider adequate preparations, active listening, and summarizing the key discussions. Moreover, you should continuously learn and adapt.

What are the golden rules of minute-taking?

The golden rules of minute-taking include being adequately prepared for the meeting by understanding the key objectives, accurately capturing the main discussion and action items, and being organized using a clear structure and formatting.