Successful meetings are documented.
It’s common for crucial information to get lost and forgotten after virtual meetings. These conversations are important for sharing ideas, making decisions, and moving your goals forward. A lot gets discussed. So taking good meeting notes ensures you capture important ideas and action items for future use.
Find out why meeting notes are important, and how to take them.
The Importance Of Meeting Notes
Meeting notes are a record and summary of the key information covered in your meetings. It’s best to have a single document for these notes—whether these responsibilities are assigned to one person or each member of the group.
Here’s why it’s important to take meeting notes:
- Everyone is kept informed so effective actions can be taken. Tasks are completed on time, and to a high standard.
- Participants can refer to the document whenever they need clarification or a friendly reminder. It makes everyone's life easier.
- You'll be able to stay on top of your goals and hold people accountable.
- You can share important information with people who didn’t attend the meeting, making sure everyone’s informed.
Don’t rely on memory alone. Document your meetings to prevent valuable information from slipping through the cracks.
How To Take Meeting Notes
For meeting notes to be most effective, you’ll want a system that is simple to use. Check out these tips to improve your documentation process.
Select your preferred note-taking tool
Productivity experts can be dogmatic about their favorite note-taking tools.
Some argue that handwritten notes are superior, as it enhances comprehension and memory recall. Others find typing notes more efficient, making it easier to organize and share information. So what should you use?
Ultimately, select the tool that allows you to easily capture information with little friction. Keep in mind that if you plan on sharing meeting notes with other attendees, then hand-writing notes may cost you extra time since you have to digitally transcribe them.
For this reason, here are a few digital notetaking options to consider:
- Built-in notepad on your computer
- Notepad Chrome extension
- Undock’s built-in notetaking
- Google Documents
Later, we’ll cover how to clean your notes up and share them with others.
Your meeting agenda is your notetaking template
Every meeting needs an agenda. It keeps you focused on the purpose of the meeting and informs how it serves your larger goals. Without one, you’ll be wasting time in your meetings.
When you create an agenda, you’ve clearly outlined valuable topics and ideas you want to cover. Use this as the template for your notetaking process.
Prepare this outline ahead of time so you don't waste time getting yourself organized at the meeting's start. This should only take a few minutes, as you've already created the agenda.
This is the simplest way to start taking notes.
Focus on capturing value
Don’t write everything down.
People make this mistake often, especially those who choose to digitally record their meetings. It's tempting to take notes on everything discussed since typing is faster than handwriting.
But if you try capturing everything, your notes will get cluttered. You'll find it challenging to gain value from it in the future, and others will find it tedious. They'll never read your notes.
Instead, focus on capturing value.
Pay attention to:
- Relevant information aligned to the agenda.
- Important questions that need to be addressed.
- Problems, challenges, or concerns.
- Creative ideas.
Listen for valuable nuggets of information. Jot them down. And discard the rest.
Tidy up your notes post-meeting
Meeting notes are rarely perfect when you first take them. It's worth tidying them up before storing and sharing them.
These notes are meant for everyone, not just you. So if others can't comprehend your writing, what good is it? Tidying up your notes will help attendees quickly find relevant information and use it to meet their goals.
Here are a few suggestions for cleaning up your meeting notes:
- Correct grammar and confusing sentences (try Grammarly).
- Organize sections by topic or participant.
- Expand on topics if they need more context.
- Remove irrelevant information.
Don't overthink this process. It doesn't need to be perfect, and your participants will appreciate the effort.
Share notes with meeting attendees
It's best practice to share meeting notes with all attendees.
Not everyone can make meetings—sharing notes keeps them up to speed. And for those who attend, it’s nice to have a record of the topics discussed.
It's beneficial to have a system for sharing your notes. Organize the meeting documents by date or topics, and make sure everyone knows how to access them (for instance, you can store notes in Google Folders and give everyone permission to view them).
This will make sure everyone stays well informed about the meeting topics discussed.
Bonus: Organize "next steps" in your project management system
After the meeting notes are shared, how do you ensure attendees take action?
It's helpful to add action items from the meeting and organize them in your project management system. This will vary depending on the team and organization.
Proactively organizing "next steps" will ensure that nothing is overlooked. And having clear action items assigned to the right people will improve productivity.
Meeting notes are your source of truth. Keeping a record of your conversations will help you organize, retain, and act on the information discussed.
Want more tips for having an effective virtual meeting? Check out our article on the 4 virtual meeting mistakes that will sabotage your team’s effectiveness.
Undock's built-in video conferencing also allows you to take notes during your meeting. Try it out for yourself, it’s free!