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Learn how to write epic meeting notes

by Pauline
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Meetings! Love them or hate them at some point in your career you’ll be the one furiously taking notes in a meeting to ensure nothing crucial is left out.

We’ve all been here and when I started as an Account Manager in an agency, this was something that really stressed me out. What if I missed something crucial, what if I interpreted something wrong, what if my scrawling words on the page don’t make any sense later…cue instant anxiety right there.

Fast-forward to the present day and time and I’ve become quite a pro at it (if I have to say so myself) and I’d like to share my top tips with you. A little side note here: I’m a big fan of working sessions as meetings can become time-wasters without clear outcomes.

The perfect calendar invite

It actually all starts with the perfect calendar invite to be honest. People often tend to schedule meetings to schedule meeting (if you catch my drift). My perfect meeting ALWAYS includes what I want the outcome to be. An example could be:

Dear (Insert Team, or Address individually here)

The purpose of this meeting will be to discuss XXX and decide on XXX.

Or if it’s a discovery meeting (the brainstorm or intro to a new project)
Dear (Insert Team, or Address individually here)

The purpose of this meeting will be to discuss XXX and how we could potentially work together to achieve XXX.

Prep before

I like to make sure if we have a group of internal team members meeting with external parties that we are all very clear about what needs to be covered or what is going to be presented by sending an email (where applicable) with any other additional insight or info. This could be the link to the designs that are being reviewed or an overview of where the project is at, etc. This manages the expectations on our side and ensures that people know what the meeting time will be spent on (this is also a great way for you or anyone else in your team to find out whether they truly actually need to attend the meeting)

(Drumroll) Meeting time

I like to do my meeting notes digitally, but if I am presenting I kick it old school with a pen and paper. When taking notes I always have a base doc open on Google Docs (this way I know I don’t have to constantly save like I would have to in Word).

I outline my notes in the following way and am then able to jot down information as it is discussed:

Meeting Notes: Meeting name (from the calendar)

Date: XXX

Overview:

Write the purpose of the meeting here

Summary:

Here you add the main points or thoughts discussed.

Next Steps:

This is the most important part as these are your action points. Making action points in a meeting ensures that there is no ambiguity in terms of who is responsible for what when you leave the meeting room. It makes your interactions more efficient and effective.

Usually, this looks something like:

(Party A) to provide XXX to Party B by XXX

Or Party A to advise by when they are able to provide XXX.

Clean-Up

My last step is always cleaning up my notes. I usually jot down everything I feel is important in the meeting, which means there is often duplication in ideas or thoughts that were discussed. I like things to be clear and succinct before I send it on so I will go over the notes, however, they were categorised, and strip and refine what I have written.

I do this directly after the meeting to ensure I’m not “reaching” for any thoughts later on and then send.

Presto send!

Sending the notes shortly after a meeting is obviously not always possible, but doing my notes in this way ensures half the work is already done.

If you’re anxious about whether you’ve captured all the info that was discussed or not sure that you’ve completely captured any details (especially if some technical points are discussed) ask a colleague to give your notes a quick once over. If this isn’t possible send your notes and make sure to add a line to say: “Feel free to let me know if I have missed anything or if anything is unclear.” This way people will reply and add additional information that they feel could have been added, which gives you good feedback for future notes. I’ve never encountered a space where someone has come back to say they were unhappy with the information provided.

Will you be trying this note-taking method for any upcoming meetings?

Let me know in the comments below or visit Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for more from Not The Boss.

Images: Pexels.com

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