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10 steps compose an effective meeting minutes

10 Steps to Compose Effective Meeting Minutes

10 steps compose an effective meeting minutes

10 Steps to Compose Effective Meeting Minutes

Make an Outline

A successful minutes document is based on the organization of an outline for this document. This structure should reflect all of the most important points and reflect all elements of the meeting clearly and in an organized way.

Gather Initial Details

Start by gathering such information:

  • the date and time of the meeting;

  • the location of this meeting, be it online or offline;

  • a list of your participants;

  • the proposed ideas for the meeting itself.

Outline the Agenda

Divide all of your meeting’s points into subpoints, giving each one support in the minutes and making them clear:

  • the topics that became a vital attention point in this meeting;

  • which of the members were the presenters;

  • the proposed amount of time dedicated to each of the points.

Record Discussions and Decisions

For each of the points, the following list should be recorded:

  • broad issues discussed or decisions made;

  • action items, discussions, or issues on which no agreement was reached;

  • who is responsible for recording these points, when they should be completed.

Closing the Meeting

  • start your consultation with an overview of what happened at the meeting;

  • review the action items;

  • time and date for the next meeting.

10 steps compose an effective meeting minutes

Review and Edit

At the end of your outline, leave a place for revising the draft minutes of the meeting and use a list of all the topics discussed to decide if everything is ready. Make sure that everything is as clear and correct as possible.

Include Factual Information

When writing , you need to make it as accurate and fact-based as possible. Properly documented minutes will be a reliable reference for carrying out future events, including following up on decisions and action items. The purpose of minutes is to keep records clean and accountable and document as much accurate information as required.

Gathering Accurate Background Information

Get all the background documents and the agenda of the event. Make sure to have a copy of the agenda, specifying the names of all the participants and, hopefully, their functions. Also, get a copy of any other document that will be distributed during the meeting. Finally, get a good idea about what will be going on: schedule and content of the meeting. This will allow you to anticipate what you will have to document and prepare the right layout or templates.

Recording Decisions and Discussions

During the meeting, minutes should be devoted to recording the exact decision and points of discussion. If a budget increase is made, write about the specific numbers and percentages. For example: “the budget of $135,000 was increased by 15%”; you should write that “the budget has been increased to $155,250”. The minutes must be factual and a valuable tool to those who were unable to attend the meeting but may need to rely on those. Be detailed and accurate.

Listing Action Items with Specifications

For each decision made, the minutes should include a concrete action item. The details should encompass the task, the person or the office to receive responsibility, and the timetable. For example: “the Marketing Director will submit to the participants and stakeholders a detailed digital strategy for the second quarter, by April 15”. With minutes stated this way, there is no ambiguity left and nothing can fall out of follow-up.

An Example of Detail-Oriented Minutes

These are five examples of three main types of minutes documentation:

Agenda Item: Technology Upgrade Proposal

Discussion: The IT Manager has presented a proposal for an upgrade of the CRM system. The upgrade will allow us to handle our customer data better as well as be more efficient in marketing our products.

Decision: The minutes will reflect the decision of the participants to allocate the budget of $40,000 for the project.

Action Items:

The IT manager will be entrusted with the overseeing of the implementation of the project. The start date is May 1, and the expected completion of the remodeling is July 31.

The Finance Secretary will handle the disbursement of the payments and make the budget available to the start of the next business quarter.

Issues for Consideration

The process of minutes writing can often fall witness to rapid discussions or replete with technical details. So, it may be better to use a recording tool to capture points that have been lost. However, the recording should be done at the will of the participants and the stakeholders. It should also not be exaggerated and be mostly used to take a glance at it when writing the records up.

The Importance of Specific Records

Detailed minutes are a must for any firm or organization, big or small. They can help all of the stakeholders and participants understand the exact decision made and specific follow-up. They better help with compliance and cooperation. Minutes are also a legal record of the business.

Write Down the Purpose

The first principle for effective meeting minutes is understanding of the meeting’s purpose. Accurately documented purpose guides the content and focus of the minutes, ensuring their relevance to the organization and its members.

Stating the Purpose

First and foremost step on this way is partial statement of the given meetings’ purpose. Organizational or project objectives, which prompted this meeting in the first place, are the goals the minutes must serve by accurately documenting the purpose of the meeting. For example, if the meeting will review quarterly sales reports; then the purpose should be “to review Q2 sales reports, and develop strategies for solving problem areas.”

Capturing Objectives

Then, the purpose of the minutes is rooted in the capturing of the objectives discussed at the meeting. The objective of any meeting is the goal the participants are trying to attain: a decision about a specific issue, brainstorming for a solution to a particular problem, a plan for future action. All objectives, which were discussed at the meeting must be documented, and assignments must be tied to these objectives. In minutes, generals come under the heading, and specifics come under the tasks .

Illustration

Adding examples is the best way to demonstrate purpose and principles simultaneously. Here is an ad hoc plan for this purpose:

Item on the agenda: increasing the market share

Purpose: to develop a strategy that will make the company’s share in the market 10% wider next year

Indeed: The Marketing and Sales Teams presented the most up to date market statistics and shared several ideas; These included increased attention to computer run simulation cells and playing for better playing guides. As a company we decided to use cheap research paper writers in urban areas on both sides of this combined strategy.

Challenges

The next principle is identifying and facing obstacles – a list of constraints and problems that might fail the desired outcome is created during the meeting. In the minutes, there should be the reasons of why these issues must be noted, and what are the proposed solutions to these problems i.e. items based in and measures. How these principles are related to the understanding of the purpose is that such purposeful minutes promote better decisions and actions based on them.

Record Decisions Made

One of the critical components of effective meeting minutes is the process of capturing specific decisions. Arguably, this measure not only helps to track the progress but also fosters accountability among the team members. For this reason, decisions should be recorded promptly and clearly to avoid any misunderstandings or miscommunications. Therefore, when recording a decision, one should document the process of arriving at a specific conclusion as well as the conclusion itself. In this sense, one considers who made the motion, who seconded it, and how the group came to a consensus or made the vote. The decision should be explicitly specified, such as “The team voted for an annual budget of $500,000.” This remaining of details can be vital for future reference. Additionally, every concluding point naturally results in action items, and one should also specify these as well, such as HR posting a job listing by next Monday and completing the hiring process by the end of June in case of hiring a new employee.

Examples of Other Ways to Record a Decision

Here is an example of an effective way to document a decision from the following sample :

  • Agenda item: Establishing a Remote Work Policy.

  • Discussion: Presentation by HR of the latest data collected, which indicated a notable increase in productivity and employee satisfaction as results of the new policy. Discussion followed on possible budgetary impacts and IT issues.

  • Decision: “Board of Directors agreed to implement a remote work policy with access to the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Due to high levels of satisfaction and consistent productivity, the board also agreed to leave Sunday optional.”

  • Action items:

    • HR to update employee manuals and send an offer to all the employees on Thursday.

    • IT to make sure that all remote employees have required equipment and credentials by the end of the month.

Note that every Agenda Item naturally results in a decision, and, therefore, there should be no “not applicables” on the list of minutes. All items should naturally result in action or a reason for the absence of the same.

How to Write Effective Meeting Minutes

Compose Action Items

The purpose of an action item or a decision in the context of minutes is to specify who will do what and when and how the decision that has been made will be implemented . This part of the meeting minutes will help turn the discussion into action and hold members accountable for their commitments. The features and requirements of the action items include defining specific tasks, assigning clear ownership to each item, setting realistic deadlines, and specifying the goals.

Defining Specific Tasks

An action item should start with a verb that specifies what needs to be done, by whom, and by when . An example of a bad action item is “John Doe and the Marketing Department to work on improvements in the social network presence.” A better action item can be “Assign the Marketing Team to develop a new digital advertising campaign by September 30.” Thus, the first action item is vague and leaves room for ambiguity, while a good action item should leave no room for interpretation.

Assigning Clear Ownership

Each action item should be assigned to a certain person or unit to avoid potentially leaving the active item unnoticed . Bad examples of action items are “Pringles project needs to get started” or “Order better furniture for the headquarters.” A better example is “John Doe to coordinate with IT to upgrade the server infrastructure by the next quarterly review.”

Setting Realistic Deadlines

A good action item should have a schedule and a deadline. An example of a bad action item is “Steering committee to define the directions soon.” The use of “soon” or other general terms is not appropriate, while a better action item can be “Complete the customer feedback analysis asap.”

Examples of Action Items in Minutes

Below are several examples of how action items can be formulated within the minutes referring to the discussion of the launch of a new product at a meeting.

Agenda Item: Launch of New Product Line

Discussion: Final version of the product design and marketing strategies has been discussed.

Decision: “The product will be launched in the spring season.

Action Items:

Product Manager needs to draw up the final version of the product, and the total time frame should be added and sent to the factory by May 1.

Marketing Director will draw up and start launching the advertising campaign which will be not late than March 15.

Tracking and Follow-Up

At the end of the minutes, the process of tracking and rechecking how the active items have been implemented should be mentioned including the way and the date of the follow up. The follow-up note can be “On November 10, let’s meet to check how much progress we made with the software”.

Add Details for the Next Meeting

Next meeting

Integrating information about the next meeting within the minutes is a courtesy and also facilitates required preparations. It helps the attendees know what to prepare and ensures that all parties are aligned to schedules and expectations .

Time and place

Clearly indicate when and where the next meeting will be. This should be at a part of the minutes where everyone can easily see the information. For example, “The next meeting will be held on November 20, 2023, at 3.00 PM EST at the main conference room”.

Preliminary agenda

Detail what will be discussed at the meeting. For instance, “The following items will be on the agenda: finalization of the Q4 Budget, the new Hiring Process, and the Marketing Strategy for the upcoming holiday season”. This will help the participants prepare any documents or items they will require.

Required preparation

Detail any preparation that any participant should make in advance of the next meeting. For instance, “All department heads are requested to come to the meeting with an updated Q4 report. In addition, they should include all projections of spending and projects in Q1 of the next year”.

Open Issues

Finally, detail any open issues from the current meetings that require follow-up. For example. “The meeting is expected to review the IT systems upgrade from the current provider. New proposals from the providers X and Y are available for review”.

How to Write Meeting Minutes

Be Concise

The most effective meeting minutes are those that manage to capture the essence of the meeting without drowning in useless information. Being concise allows the minutes to be readable, and useful, and able to provide all the information one needs without having to go through verbatim transcripts. The major guidelines for drafting concise meeting minutes are:

  • Focusing on the major points of meeting, documenting all decisions made, actions and responsibilities assigned and avoiding the habit of recording every comment around.

  • Using bullet points and making sure that each bullet point represent one ‘action’. Also, using short sentences can assist with making your minutes more concise.

  • Ensure that each ‘action’ is explicit with respect to what needs to be done and that the format allows all one needs to know to be able to act on any of the points.

Here is an example of concise minutes covering a general meeting:

Agenda Point: Review of the Budget

Discussion: It has been decided that the budget for next quarter should be increased.

Decision: Approved the 10% increase for the Marketing Department.

Action: John assigned to implement the new campaign.

Agenda Point: Quality Control

Discussion: The number of flaw units has spiked during the past quarter and some gross deficiencies have been reported.

Decision: Division of Quality Control will be held under probation for a month and if the criteria will be met they will be dismissed in capacity.

Action: H.R. to find replacements.

Agenda Point: General Outlook Meeting

Discussion: Different perspectives, worries, and suggestions on the recent situation.

Decision: Revoke the new-up protocols applied during the past quarter.

Action: Tim’s division to make suggestions for future actions.

Agenda Point: Final Review

Discussion: All the main activities have been discussed, comments were provided and actions have been assigned.

No additional comments on the items discussed.

It can be seen that in this example not every piece of information has been discussed, but only those aspects important for understanding the following actions have been included or else the minutes would have been too lengthy.

Edit and Proofread

Once you have written the first draft of the meeting minutes, you need to revise and refine the document. Editing is essential to ensure the minutes are accurate, clear, and professionally presented. This process involves identifying errors and improving the effectiveness of the communication.

Review for Accuracy

The first step in the editing process is to check the draft against notes and recordings to ensure all the information is correct and complete. Confirm the names, dates, figures, and outcomes of the meeting. Make sure all the decisions and action items are accurately included: “Approved the budget increase of 15% for the marketing department starting from July.” This will help the members of the meeting act in accordance with the minutes in the future.

Simplify and Clarify

Edit the text to simplify complex passages and clarify any points that might be ambiguous. Write in a clear and direct style, replacing the cumbersome or specialized terms with simple and easily understandable words. For example, “The committee is requested to furnish a report…” might be replaced with “The committee must submit a report….” This will ensure the minutes are comprehensible and will be acted upon in a timely manner.

Check Consistency

Edit the draft to ensure each element follows the same formatting rules and style. Make sure all the dates, titles, and names are written in the same format. Retain the past tense throughout the document to describe the events of the meeting. If necessary, divide the article into the same subsections: bullet points for actions and decisions, and numbered lists for the discussion of each item.

Proofread for Grammar and Spelling

Reread the document carefully and correct any spelling, grammar, or punctuation mistakes. This final step is crucial, as it will help you avoid the mistakes that might damage the professionalism of the document and lead to misunderstandings. Feel free to use spell checkers, but make sure to rely on manual reading, as they might be inaccurate. The example of a well-edited portion of the meeting minutes is provided below.

Past Event: Meeting of the Public Affairs Committee

Agenda Item: Expansion of Remote Work Policy

The following decisions on this item were made at the previous meeting:

Discussion: The employees’ opinions on remote work were considered.

Decision: “Agreed to extend the remote work hours to Fridays and review the decision in six months.”

Action Points:

Change the policy and email it to all the employees by the Friday of the following week.

IT specialists must ensure that all the remote staff have proper access by the end of June.

Attach Supplementary Documents

Having relevant supplementary documents attached to the meeting minutes is essential for understanding the context and supporting the correctness of the decisions based on them. At a minimum, this approach allows all interested parties and participants to have the same information, benefiting the increased transparency of the process and the convenience of subsequent communication. In its best version, the presented initiative facilitates a better understanding of the contexts of decisions, reduces personnel turnover related to document-related confusion, and provides a helpful tool for controlling implementation. The following steps should be taken to properly attach relevant supplementary documents to the meeting minutes:

Identifying Relevant Documents

The first step in this process is recognizing the documents in question, understand which of them should be attached to the minutes, and see their value. Here, it is essential to connect the attachments directly to the decisions, discussions, and actions made in the meeting minutes. Professional presentations, financial plans, and projects are just a few of the examples of possible meeting context-related documents.

Specific Mention of Documents in the Minutes

In the actual minutes, it is essential to make clear references to these attachments, describing what the connected document is. For example, consider the following sentence in the meeting minutes: “Approved the new marketing strategy detailed in the attached ‘Q3 Marketing Strategy Proposal.’” . All participants should have access to such a document, so being able to deliver them is an essential part of this process.

Ensuring Document Accessibility

Finally, the attached documents must be eventually given or presented to all participants. In some cases, this might mean including a link in the email or sending it attached in a separate message. An alternative possibility is to be prepared with printed/formatted archival documents during future meetings. In the case of email attachments and links, it is always important to double-check their content before sending out the message.

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