Nobody loves meetings at Slite. That's why we put together a simple, actionable, step-by-step guide to write effective meeting minutes.
Meetings are popular tools used to move things forward in organizations. However, they're also infamous for their inefficiency. According to a 2019 Doodle report, the cost of poorly handled meetings that year reached $399 billion in the U.S alone.
This is exactly why learning how to write effective meeting minutes is vital to leverage all the time and effort spent on meetings and make your company thrive.
Keep reading to discover the step-by-step guide that we’ve put together for you to improve your note-taking skills and run more productive meetings.
What are meeting minutes?
Meeting minutes are an official record of a meeting for its participants. They're also sources of information for teammates who were unable to attend. Meeting minutes act as performance permanent written records to use as references for future decision-making. No meeting should be concluded without meeting notes, that's a rule at Slite.
Despite their name, meeting minutes don't have to be a record of every single minute. On the contrary, it is vital to learn how to cut through the noise and only include the most relevant information in your document.
Why are meeting minutes important?
Meeting minutes are incredibly handy tools that can offer your team an array of advantages. Once you’ve integrated them into your regular workflow, you’ll never go back.
Less talk, more action
We’ve all been the victims of meetings that go on and on, but ultimately never go anywhere. They become a forum for endless discussion and back-and-forths, but plans never actually get put into action.
Meeting minutes can help avoid this kind of laziness because they make things more efficient. When you have previous meeting minutes to reflect on or upcoming agenda items on your meeting minutes template to refer to, you’ll know exactly what needs to be covered in a meeting. You’ll avoid humming and hawing because you’ll have a list of exactly what needs to get discussed and put into action right in front of you.
The structure of meeting minutes also helps with this, as agenda items are often placed in tables that assign contact people, plans of actions, and the like.
Better meeting structure
As mentioned above, poorly organized meetings usually aren’t very efficient. As a general rule, a meeting leader should never go into a meeting without a precise plan outlining what needs to be discussed. However, people are busy and many meeting leaders forget to do so in advance.
If you put together regular meeting minutes, you’ll get in the habit of determining meeting agenda items in advance. This will add structure to your meetings and make sure everything gets discussed thoroughly but efficiently.
Keep everyone up to speed
One of the best benefits of meeting minutes is the fact that they can be distributed to people who weren’t able to attend a meeting. Instead of wasting time answering the same questions and explaining what was discussed, you can simply send them a copy of the relevant meeting minutes and they can bring themselves up to speed right away.
This benefit is especially convenient if you use a software like Slite where everything is saved and easily shareable from one central workspace.
Avoid forgetting about important topics
Another pitfall of disorganized meetings is forgetting to address important topics. You’ve probably experienced the sinking feeling that happens when you walk out the door of a meeting and realize you didn’t discuss a key issue you had in mind.
Meeting minutes ensure that nothing gets forgotten in your meetings. You’ll be able to refer to the agenda items already marked down in your draft and even check minutes from past meetings. Meeting minutes are also handy documents that can be glanced at before a meeting ends, just to make sure everything has been covered.
Last, meeting minutes add a degree of accountability to both what’s discussed in meetings and meetings themselves.
When a topic is discussed at a meeting, the person taking the meeting minutes usually writes down a team, contact person or leader that’s associated with that meeting item. This gives that specific person(s) accountability over that topic and can be referred back to as a resource in the future. It also avoids any confusion surrounding who’s “in charge” of one task or another.
Meeting minutes can also be great accountability tools for clients. If there’s ever any doubt about whether an item was discussed at a meeting (or whether the meeting was even held at all), meeting minutes are handy documents to refer back to provide clarity and avoid frustration.
What should you include when writing meeting minutes?
The contents of your meeting minutes will depend on your company’s needs and the kind(s) of meeting you generally hold. However, the following elements are usually included in most meeting minute documents:
1. Meeting basics like name, place, date and time
It’s important to include basic details about your meeting at the top of your meeting minutes document. This ensures that everything is organized and that your meeting can be identified at a glance.
2. List of meeting participants
Next, you’ll want to include a list of everyone who was present at your meeting. This identifies everyone who’s working on or involved with a given project or topic, as well as noting down which employees are informed about what.
This list is also handy because it helps determine which employees were not able to attend a meeting and will need to be sent a copy of the meeting minutes for review.
3. Meeting purpose
Every meeting should have one central goal. You might discuss a variety of topics, but there should be one main objective on the agenda. It’s essential to note this down because it helps provide direction to the meeting and clarity regarding its focus.
4. Agenda items
Great meeting minutes should include all the agenda items that were addressed at a meeting. If possible, it’s a great idea to talk to the meeting leader and note down these agenda items before the meeting begins for maximum note taking efficiency.
A handy way to stylize agenda items in meeting minutes is in a table format. That way, you can include columns for things like decisions made, action items, next steps, contact people, additional comments, and so on.
5. Next meeting date and place
At the end of the meeting, your team should determine how long it will be until everyone needs to meet again. Make sure to note down the date and time in your meeting minutes.
6. Documents to be included in the meeting report
You might have additional meeting documents that you’ll want to attach to your report and refer back to in the future. This might include reports, presentations, documentation, and so on. The sky’s the limit.
Efficiency & tips for great meeting minutes:
- Type directly into your laptop so you don't have to retype everything later.
- If anything is unclear, speak up and ask for clarification right away so you won't have to poke around after the meeting. Don't leave room for ambiguity.
- Only capture essential points. Write down the main decisions and action items concisely, and be sure not to miss any. You'll always have time to go back to your notes when wrapping-up after the meeting if you wish to add some more details.
- 8 tips to run effective team meetings: if you want more tips about running great meetings, we wrote a dedicated guide to help you out.
Use Draft by Slite to start taking notes directly in a new tab in your browser (Firefox or Chrome)
How should I prepare for a meeting?
A great meeting starts well before you start writing your minutes.
To ensure maximum efficiency you should always clarify what is expected of you as the note-taker, especially if it's a new role for you.
It's also important to check with the meeting owner that the meeting agenda is set in advance. Not only is this an essential step to run an effective team meeting, but it's also a great way to be more efficient:
- Use your agenda items to prepare an outline for your meeting minutes and fill-in the list of meeting attendees
- If necessary, include references to items from previous meetings that attendees should bebe aware of
- Last but not least, if you're using a note-taking software (such as Slite), you can set-up meeting minutes templates for different meetings and pre-attach relevant documents (meeting presentations, reports to be discussed...)
That way, when you actually get to the meeting, you’ll be ready to go and won’t miss any of the important stuf.
Related content: Discover how to run effective meetings with Slite
A meeting minutes template example
You’ll want to structure your meeting minutes in accordance with the type of meeting you’re having. Below is an example of minutes items for an informal meeting. You can also discover afully customizable meetings notes templates.
Finalizing your meeting minutes
You should wrap-up your notes right after your meeting concludes, while everything's still fresh in your mind:
- Complete your meeting notes and clarify points when necessary
- Double-check that decisions and actions are precisely noted
- Keep things as concise and digestible as possible
- Proofread with care. Nowadays you can use automated grammar checkers such as Grammarly to help you do so
- If needed, send your draft to the meeting leader before sharing it with other attendees. This is especially important for more formal meetings like Board of Directors or committee meetings.
Sharing your meeting minutes
You made it! This last step is crucial: make sure to share your meeting minutes with all meeting attendees and relevant stakeholders.
Furthermore, you can choose to store your meeting minutes in a collaborative tool like Slite so that everyone has easy access to it.
Discover more about how Slite can help you run great meetings with your team or try it for free and start creating your first notes.
Running productive team meetings with Slite
Productive and effective team meetings are not only good meeting minutes: you'll need to ensure that the right people have access to the right knowledge before, during and after your meetings and can easily collaborate on it.
Slite will help you make your team meetings better:
- Save time on team meeting preparation. Prepare your own meeting templates and start taking beautiful notes in seconds
- Collaborate in real-time. Every member of your team or external contributors can edit or comment on the same document which automatically syncs in real-time
- Share documents in seconds. Decide who can access them and share them through email, Slack or even a calendar event on the fly
- Organize and centralize your team meeting documentation. Slite provides a powerful yet simple workspace that acts as a single source of truth for your team