How to take meeting notes like a pro

Meeting notes are a pain. We show you how to write notes like the best in the business. Get praises and make your team love you.


Meeting notes are a fundamental task in any business, big or small. It might be from a conversation between you and your assistant. Or it can be the result of a long discussion in a room with a large team. Either way, keeping a record of what happened is useful, because:


  • It’s a reminder of relevant information exchanged during the event
  • It facilitates the tracking of the tasks agreed
  • It can be used as a guide by whom missed the meeting
  • It provides evidence of who is in charge of what and who voted in favor of what
  • It offers material to evaluate decisions


But, indeed, taking meeting notes isn’t a simple task. And most companies don’t have a person dedicated to the job. It can fall on the shoulders of anyone in the team.


Thankfully, it can become much easier if you put some strategies in place.


How to take meeting notes


Writing notes during a meeting can be daunting. You might need to both participate and register what is happening. You might not be a trained secretary. You might be facing a broad audience with many points to discuss.


But there are ways to get it done without losing your mind. It only requires a bit of planning and preparation.


Learn to select what is important


First, accept the fact you won’t record everything. And you don’t have to. A meeting isn’t a trial, an event that must have every second on paper for legal reasons.


Start by thinking about what is crucial to record. It usually is the following:


  • Time, date and place
  • List of attendees
  • Topics discussed
  • Decisions made
  • Tasks delegated (and to whom)


Some of the points above you will find in the meeting invitation, so use it to speed your process. For instance, you can simply strike through the names of the people who didn’t show up.


Then have a look at the meeting agenda. There, you can find the topics to be discussed. All you need to do is tick them as they are presented or add/discard if the plan changes.


As you can see, you now have a smaller number of things to track. Your primary job will be collecting details about the topics and registering the decisions made, plus the task delegation.

Using Voice recorder


Use a voice recorder


Unless you are a transcriptionist, the number of words you can record in real-time is limited. No matter if you are doing it by hand or straight into an app, people speak much faster than you can follow. Worse if more than one person decides to talk at the same time.


This is why you should seek permission to use a voice recorder during the meeting. You can then take your notes at your own pace. Later, when you transcribe them into the final file or application, you can listen to the recording to see if something important is missing.


Just make sure you check the privacy policy of your company before doing it. Talk to Human Resources to clarify what you can record and how. And always inform the attendees out loud when the record starts and ends during the meeting.


Organise and prevent getting swamped

Don’t get swamped


Most of the time, your meeting notes are about the takeaway:


  • What should the attendees have learned from the meeting?
  • What can’t be forgotten?
  • What was stressed by the facilitator?
  • What questions were presented?
  • Did something out of the ordinary happen?
  • Was a new topic added to the schedule at the last minute?


Whoever reads your meeting notes in the future should be able to find this information there. You might need to add something else, depending on the type of meeting or company culture, but usually, this is all that matters.


It’s also advisable to register any numbers mentioned, such as dates or stats. This is what people tend to miss or misunderstand. All materials presented (slides, handouts, videos) should also be included in the file.


Create templates

Use meeting templates to avoid mistakes


Many people roll their eyes when they hear about templates. But you should know they aren’t a tool created for lazy workers. If a task is repetitive in some way, why should you redo it from scratch every time?


Meeting notes are no different. Most of its format is always the same. So, you can (and should) use meeting templates to decrease the time spent creating them. It will also prevent mistakes as you will have a roadmap to guide you through the process. The crucial information you must register will be predicted in the form of empty blocks or checklists.


When you decide to use an application like Remote Workly, you find a selection of templates to choose from. Some options are Onboarding Meetings, Client Brief, Product Roadmap, Customer Feedback, Cold Sales Outreach, and Follow-On Sales Calls. You can also customize the templates to suit your company’s needs or create yours from scratch.


Make your meeting notes easy to find


After creating your meeting notes (or even before it), it’s vital to set up a searching system. The idea is to make it easier for other members of your team to find your notes when they need them.


You can do it in many ways:


  • Use tags: Tags are an easy way to classify online information. You can, for instance, create them based on the topic discussed, so they are all “tied together.”


  • Create categories: Each type of meeting can be a category in your filing system, allowing your team to see them in a single list.


Search engines of online applications use both tags and categories. Your team will only need to type a few words or choose a tag or category (or both) to find the meeting notes they are looking for.



Create an effective follow-up process


Finally, you want to make sure your meeting notes don’t just sit there. They are supposed to be a starting point, a set of guidelines your team can use to take action. To achieve this, create a follow-up process based on your notes.


Highlight the tasks agreed, who is responsible for what, and the deadlines. Also, include resources, instructions, or ground rules mentioned during the meeting.


If you are using an online application like Remote Workly, you will be able to automate your follow-up process. The system can create tasks and check on progress for you. You can also integrate it with other tools, such as JIRA or HubSpot.



Conclusion


Taking meeting notes can be much easier if you have a plan in your hands. Consider beforehand why you need them and what you and your team hope to find on them. This will save you time, focus your attention on what matters, and make sure your work has value.


An online application can support you on this task. It can offer meeting templates, automating tasks, and creating an effective search system, among other advantages. If you would like to hear more about how Remote Workly can help with your meeting notes, get in touch.

Vaibhav Namburi
Founder

I'm the Founder of RemoteWorkly. I've helped build multiple multi-million dollar companies and I love approaching Start Ups through product-lead growth

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