8 tips to improve your meeting minutes

What are meeting minutes?

Minutes are a summary of the exchanges and discussions observed during a meeting, as well as the decisions made and actions taken. A meeting is considered successful when it is followed by minutes that are quickly distributed containing all the key information: what was discussed, who did what and when and what tasks resulted from the decisions. The meeting minutes specify:

  • Attendees
  • Absentees (as well as those excused)
  • The place of the meeting
  • The date of the meeting

Each item discussed should include:

  • Presenter
  • A summary of the main discussions
  • Decisions made
  • The tasks delegated during the meeting, assigned to specific person, with a deadline if possible

The important role of the editor

The editor plays an important role in the success of the meeting. Often, this person in charge of preparing the meeting is also responsible for writing the minutes and distributing the final version to all participants. Therefore, the writer must have a certain number of qualities: precision, systematism, ability to listen, speed and organization are all essential assets for a meeting to be well conducted from its preparation to its conclusion.

1. Prepare your agenda

For a meeting to be optimal, it is of course necessary to devote a significant amount of time to its preparation. Therefore, the writer, supported by the organizer, must prepare the agenda conscientiously while keeping in mind the objectives of the meeting. The agenda allows the participants to be presented with the topics to be discussed in advance. Its main purpose is to facilitate the meeting on the day. During the meeting, whether face-to-face or by videoconference, the points will be discussed in chronological order, which is why the agenda must be designed with this in mind beforehand. To facilitate the conduct of the meeting, the writer can add paragraphs and files to the agenda in order to provide sufficient documentation and make it accessible to the participants. A carefully prepared agenda will promote an efficient and operational meeting!

2. Check the agenda before the meeting

Ideally, the agenda should be prepared collaboratively. Each participant should be able to contribute to the agenda item for which they are responsible. If you do this in your organization, the writer should check the content of the agenda before the day of the meeting. This way, he or she will have in mind the topics to be covered and the order in which they will be discussed. By checking the agenda, the writer will keep in mind the main theme of the meeting and will probably be able to optimize the writing of the minutes.

3. Sum up the essence of the discussions

In order to ensure that the minutes of the discussions can be consulted and understood by everyone, the writer must demonstrate a strong ability to sum up while striving to remain clear enough to accurately convey the exchanges. Indeed, those who are not present must be able to understand the essence of the discussions and the decisions made by reading the minutes. Sentences that are too complex would make the reading tedious. This is why the writer must be concise and able to summarize the sometimes complex discussions.

4. Write systematically

During the meeting, the type of writing reserved for the minutes is an important element that will determine the quality of the report. Indeed, it is advisable to proceed in a systematic way. This approach will have the advantage of allowing the writer to improve his or her efficiency and to have a clear framework for the report in mind. It will also make reading easier. So, if you are writing a report, try to think of the best way to construct your writing. For example, you could compose each of your points in the following way:

  • Add paragraphs, to capture the essence of the discussion
  • Highlight the decisions you are making
  • List the tasks arising from the decisions – naming a person responsible for each task

In short, each of your points will be articulated between paragraphs, decisions and tasks. By having such a framework in mind, you will avoid forgetting and will remain attentive to the importance of decision-making, a dimension that is sometimes lacking when you reach the end of the meeting.

5. Highlighting decisions

As already mentioned, it is very important to highlight all the decisions made during the meeting. Let’s not forget that meetings are often used to decide on different topics in order to progress towards the set objectives. Therefore, always ask yourself at the end of a paragraph if a validated decision deserves to be highlighted. By being attentive to the highlighting of decisions, you will also make it easier for participants or those who are not present to reread the document.

6. Define and delegate tasks during the meeting

Too often, at the end of a meeting, participants do not know what needs to be done and especially who is responsible for the actions to be taken. In order to make employees operational at the end of the meeting, make sure to clearly define the actions to be carried out from one meeting to the next. Also appoint a person responsible for each task – even if it means specifying all the people concerned by the task in question. If you can, also specify the due date so that the person in charge knows the deadline for completing the task.

7. Make a summary point at the end of the meeting

This tip is for those who wish to make a “summary” point in order to facilitate the rereading of the minutes. This approach will also have the advantage of anchoring in the minds of the participants the important elements such as the major decisions that were decided upon. For example, a summary can include only the most important decisions or the tasks that need to be completed in priority before the next status meeting. You can also present your summary in a bulleted list – the important thing is to keep it short and to the point.

8. Proofread and correct the minutes quickly

There is no need to specify how essential it is to reread the minutes at the end of the meeting. It is best to do this sometimes tedious work directly after the meeting. This way, the writer will still have the essence of the discussions in mind and will be able to provide accurate and efficient work. Once it has been proofread, the minutes can be shared quickly with all the participants so that they are immediately operational. Those who are not present will be able to take note of the discussions and also carry out the actions for which they may be responsible.

Summary

Digital tools make it easier to write your minutes

After reviewing these 8 tips, we can see how difficult the editor’s job is. But how do you easily cover all of these recommendations in order to effectively write your meeting minutes?

Fortunately, there are many collaborative tools that offer to help you in this sometimes tedious and time-consuming task. WEDO will accompany you before, during and after the meeting so that you can focus on the essential: the success of your meeting. By collaborating during all the stages of the meeting, you will also promote the proper conduct of the meeting. Indeed, the editor must be supported by all the participants, all responsible for the success of the meeting.

With WEDO you can make your meetings more efficient by writing the minutes in real time. Many features allow you to add content easily: paragraphs, decisions, tasks and files are all elements that will feed your minutes. What is the best feature with WEDO? You can take advantage of a powerful search tool! In a few clicks, and using the right keyword, launch a search through the content of your meetings, decisions, tasks or even files. You can instantly access what you are looking for! It’s so easy to write minutes with WEDO that you won’t have to waste time rewriting them after the meeting. Make your meetings more efficient!

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WEDO is a Swiss based startup, the main office is in Fribourg (FR) and the datacenters are located in Zürich (ZH).