How To Write Meeting Notes: Essential Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 24 November 2022

Published 25 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Meeting notes are some of the most important components of any meeting. With so many action items and details being discussed, it's easy for employees to forget some. At other times, some employees might be absent from the meeting or leave early and miss out on some of the discussions. Meeting notes capture everything that was discussed to keep everyone on the same page. In this article, we define meeting notes and discuss everything you should know about how to write meeting notes effectively.

What are meeting notes?

Meeting notes, or minutes, are written texts that document what occurred during an official company meeting. They serve as records of all the proceedings of any particular meeting and offer a summary of the talking points and decisions made. Typically, one of the company's employees writes the notes as the meeting progresses and important aspects are discussed. Later on, they document the notes in an official meeting record. Once someone in authority approves the notes, they are sent to all concerned employees.

Related: Meeting minutes vs. notes: definitions and examples

The importance of writing meeting notes

Meeting notes are an essential aspect of professional life due to the following reasons:

Acting as reminders

Meeting notes ensure that all employees, whether they were present or absent during a particular meeting know the decisions made, what needs to be done and the deadlines for the completion of tasks or projects.

Serving as team references

Meeting notes help to keep everyone on the same page by eliminating confusion or conflicts about what was discussed during a particular meeting.

Acting as project guides

Meeting minutes offer a timeline that teams can follow seamlessly and get done with a particular project while also informing all essential stakeholders of what they need to do.

Saving time

Since meeting minutes capture everything that happened during a previous meeting, no time is wasted recollecting or arguing in future meetings.

Stating ownership

When writing meeting notes, make sure to document how a particular decision was made and by whom. This ensures that the decision-making structure within an organisation is maintained. It also increases accountability.

Related: Types of business meetings (with tips and benefits)

What to include in meeting notes

To write meeting notes effectively, you should include the following:

  • The name of the meeting and its venue

  • The date and time that the meeting was held

  • List of participants, both present and absent

  • The meeting's agenda or purpose

  • Decisions made, action items and the steps to follow for each of the agenda items

  • Date and venue of the next meeting

  • Documents that should be attached to the meeting report

Related: Tips for developing note-taking skills (plus definition)

How to write meeting notes

There are five major steps to effectively minuting a meeting. They are:

1. Prior planning

Planning a meeting properly in advance is important to make the process of writing meeting notes easy. You should liaise with the chairperson beforehand to know the meeting's agenda and prepare yourself. You could, for instance, work with the chair to prepare a document that will act as the agenda and ready the meeting's format. As you plan, also identify the meeting's intentions and determine the people who have to attend.

Ready the talking points, clearly defining their purpose and setting the time to be consumed discussing each of them. Ensure that all the attendees have the meeting format documenting the agenda and talking points. Tell them what you expect from them too so that they know how to prepare. Ensure that you also enquire from the chair or other company leaders what your expectations are.

Related: Team meeting strategies (plus how to organise team meetings)

2. Taking records

As the designated meeting recorder, it's important to first identify what you need to record before you can start minuting a meeting. Depending on your company or team, you can decide on a specific format that better aligns with your work style or goals. However, you have to include the following details as you write the notes, regardless of the format you opt for:

  • Date and time

  • Present and absent participants

  • Acceptance of or changes made to the minutes of the last meeting

  • Decisions made including action steps taken, activities to follow, elections' outcomes, rejected or accepted motions, any other business, next meeting's date and time

As the meeting progresses, take short notes regarding the above factors rather than recording everything each speaker says. Request for any documents or presentations offered during the meeting from each appropriate presenter. You can ask them to send such documents to you via email if they do not have physical copies.

You can attach the documents to the meetings, later on, to help recapture employees' attention and give them time to analyse the details they missed during the meeting. Review your meeting notes quickly after the meeting is over and ask for clarifications from the appropriate speakers, if you need any.

Related: How to add notes to PowerPoint (with uses and FAQs)

3. Writing the meeting notes

Gather everything you need to write the meeting notes in a clear, presentable way once the meeting is adjourned. Consider the following tips to be more effective:

  • Avoid spending a lot of time waiting to write the notes when the meeting is over. This ensures that you still remember everything that happened during the meeting clearly

  • Review the format you had prepared beforehand and institute any necessary arrangements. This can include making clarifications on issues raised or adding more details. Ensure that you have also recorded all activities, verdicts and motions clearly

  • Review your minutes to ensure that they are clear and concise

  • Attach important documents

  • Proofread for clarity and remove grammatical or spelling errors

Related: 14 note-taking tips to improve your workplace efficiency

4. Sharing the notes

You should first send the meeting notes to the people in leadership positions, such as the chair of the meeting and any senior executives. Ask for their approval and seek to know if there are other parties who need to go through and approve the notes too. Ensure that all relevant authorities have approved the notes and input their signatures.

If there are any essential corrections, make them quickly and indicate that the corrections were also approved. After the necessary approvals, you can share the meeting notes with the appropriate employees. Ensure that you use a method that agrees with your company's method of conducting business to share the minutes, for example, email. Verify the list of receivers with your leaders and include any extra employees to whom you are told to send the minutes.

Related: How to take and distribute meeting minutes

5. Filing or storing meeting note for future reference

Keep an accurate record of the meeting notes to ensure that they can be referenced in future. There are a variety of ways you can use for filing meeting notes, and you should confirm with your supervisor which method they prefer.

Tips for effective minuting of a meeting

Use the following tips to get better at taking notes during your office meetings:

Know how to identify the things you should be including in the minutes

You have to decide what's important to include in your minutes as various attendees speak. Since you cannot manage to write up everything, prepare and compose yourself well before the meeting starts. You can review the minutes of previous meetings to get an idea of what to write if you aren't sure.

Know the right time to focus your attention on just listening

Once you have decided on what to write down, pay attention and listen keenly. Even if you may not have to write everything that various speakers say, it's still important to concentrate and understand them.

Related: How to improve your active listening skills (with steps)

Take your time to prepare for the meeting early on

This will help you identify the important points that you need to write down during the meeting. You can also use this time to prepare an agenda for the meeting and understand it. This will ensure that you don't misunderstand the speakers and that your meeting notes are accurate.

Make use of templates

If you're the designated minute taker at your company, you might have to write minutes for numerous meetings. Coming up with an original format and write-up each time is tedious and a waste of time. You should have templates that enable you to focus and listen out for certain talking points during the meeting. Templates also ensure that all your company minutes are professional and consistent.

Bring a recording device when you can

A recording device such as a smartphone helps you to capture the entirety of the meeting. Later on, you can refer to it to ensure that you never missed anything. Ensure that you seek the chairperson's permission beforehand and inform the meeting participants of your intentions to record their presentations to get their consent.

Type up your notes when preparing the final document

Type up your notes as soon as the meeting ends to capture all the details while they are still fresh in your mind. Typing them ensures that you have an electronic copy that is less likely to be misplaced or damaged.

Related: What are organisational skills? (Types and examples)

Be objective as you write

Be neutral as you write the minutes and avoid expressing a preference for any attendees or ideas. The notes should present an unbiased overview of the meeting's talking points and major actions.

Use shorthand to write faster

You can use shorthand to capture more details efficiently, especially when a lot of useful information is said quickly. Shorthand involves using methods like using a speaker's initials in place of their names or creating acronyms for phrases used commonly throughout the meeting.

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