How to Take Clear and Effective Meeting Notes

Whether you plan and contribute to meetings or you are usually tasked with recording official meetings, taking effective meeting notes can be crucial to the success of any plan. Meeting notes summarize key points and they can be extremely useful during a project’s life-cycle. Learn all about meeting notes and how to improve your note-taking skills.

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What Are Meeting Notes?

Meetings are a necessary activity, no matter the type of business you’re running. They gather the right people in a single room and they’re the perfect occasion for asking questions and clarifying doubts. If you have left a meeting wondering what some of the concepts meant, or feeling confused in regards to the plan, chances are you took little to zero notes. 

Meeting notes are simply quick references to ideas, goals, decisions, deadlines, and data. They can be defined as the written record of anything relevant that's happened during a meeting, and they are used to keep track of key points as well as what was decided during the meeting so that you and your team can revisit the information and use it later down the road.

Are Meeting Notes the Same as Meeting Minutes?

Meeting notes are not the same as meeting minutes. Even though they both have the same goal (writing down information that occurs during a meeting), minutes, however, are more formal and often include different and more structured details such as:

  • Full date 
  • A list of everyone who attended the meeting, as well as an absentee list
  • When the meeting began and when it adjourned
  • Key topics covered in the meeting and who the speakers were
  • Actions taken and/or decisions made during the meeting

As mentioned above, minutes also cover key topics, but they follow a more structured format simply because they act as legal documentation of what was covered during a meeting, whereas meeting notes are much more informal and less structured. 

Tips for Writing Meeting Notes

Even though meeting notes are more dynamic and help to get the creative process going, in order to record information effectively they also need to have some structure, otherwise, they end up being cluttered, confusing, and with little to no context to the future reader, and that’s why having a few predefined steps can help you up your note-taking game.

Before you enter the meeting, there are a few things that are always good to know:

  • Who will read the notes? Think about who will be the final reader of the notes. Colleagues or stakeholders? These are two different audiences and they can be expecting two separate communications post-meeting.
  • What’s on the agenda? By knowing exactly what the agenda is, you can avoid distractions (and you can also prepare questions).
  • Predict expectations. In order to predict expectations, you need to know the agenda. What insights will your team likely request from your notes? What is the most important piece of information that will be covered during the meeting?

Now, with this in mind, let’s take a look at the main information you need to write down when you’re taking meeting notes:

  • Key points on the agenda: It’s important to keep track of key information, so write down a summary of each item covered on the agenda and the outcomes that were discussed. Changes, plans, and decisions are important key points that should always be written down as notes.

  • Action items: Action items refer to the list of items that are proposed in the meeting, and as such, they need to be very detailed. So make sure to write down each assignment, who it’s been assigned to, and its due date.

  • Ideas and questions: Any ideas, questions, or follow-ups that were covered during the meeting should also be included and explained. Make sure to keep track of these too. 

Also, a well-planned meeting will usually cover a few core items that will be important to include in your meeting notes. Keep an eye for:

  1. Vision, goals, and objectives.
  2. Critical success factors.
  3. Key performance indicators.
  4. Key issues. 

Take Meeting Notes Like a Pro With Instagantt

Taking notes it’s truly an art form and there are no rules when it comes to it. Some people prefer taking meeting notes on their laptops and others like to rely on pen and paper. It’s not important how you do it, but taking notes during a meeting or asking someone to do it is, especially when it comes to complex or large projects. Why? Because meetings are usually the place where discussion or key decisions happen, and relying solely on memory is definitely not enough. 

But what happens when you take the time to write down exceptionally good notes and they still end up being lost or misplaced? It’s a common scenario, after all, you and your team might be managing and working on several projects at once, and this is where things tend to get mixed up. Luckily, project management software like Instagantt can truly make a difference by helping you keep track of all project-related information in one single place. 

Instagantt helps you manage your schedule, tasks, and progress. But also, it can also help you keep track of your own meeting notes by allowing you to either add information to your tasks and keeping record of your notes on certain key points or topics by attaching the information as Word Docs or PDF files, or by simply creating Gantt charts with the most relevant action items and takeaways from your most important meetings. Additionally, you can assign these action items to whoever is responsible so that you can keep track of the progress of these tasks. This way, your meeting notes will never go missing again, and you can share this information with team members and shareholders alike, changing the dynamic and success factor of every meeting going forward.

Meeting Notes

Project Plan & Meeting Notes Example

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