Writing Meeting Minutes? Here’s Everything You Need to Know (Including a Free Template)
We’ve all been there. That uneasy feeling you get during the last virtual meeting of a long day when you’ve reached the limit of new information your brain can properly take in.
This realization might hit you like a ton of bricks halfway through a presentation or in a “what just happened” type of moment after you sign off. Luckily, this is no reason to panic because the solution is simple: check the meeting minutes!
Meetings are a critical component of the workplace and can make up about 15% of an organization’s total time spent. That’s almost a full day’s work!
Without reliable meeting minutes, teams may lose track of critical conversations for solving big problems plaguing the company. And by accurately capturing what happens in those meetings, you’re investing in improving the overall health, functionality, and effectiveness of your team.
Still, the big question remains: how do you write meeting minutes correctly? That’s where we come in! 💪🏼
By the time you’re done reading this post, you’ll have a solid grasp of how to write meeting minutes that will leave your team feeling informed, engaged, and on track.
Pop on your blue-light glasses, open your digital notepad, and follow along. We’ll include tips to develop meeting minutes and provide a template to get started.
- What are meeting minutes?
- Who should write your meeting minutes?
- What should be included in the meeting minutes?
- The best approach for creating the meeting minutes of your dreams
- The ultimate meeting minutes template you’ve been missing
- Choosing the right platform to track, manage, and document everything
What are meeting minutes?
Meeting minutes—also referred to as minutes of meeting or MOM—provide a written record of what occurs during a meeting so there’s clear documentation for everyone involved whether they attended or not.
They are a great tool for any organization that meets regularly for events like a project kickoff meeting or a status update. Done correctly, they serve as a window into the past, helping you revisit ideas and conversations to facilitate future problem-solving.
When you’re confronted with challenges at work or can’t remember that one big thing your leader told you not to forget, meeting minutes really shine.
But let’s dig a little deeper.
Meeting minutes take many forms! Since there’s no single approach, there are a ton of template variations with different takes on what the minutes should look like—but more on this in a little bit.
While meeting notes can be formal or informal, meeting minutes have a standard set of practices and information included. Meeting minutes are typically most effective when just one person is in charge of taking them, while the best minutes are also proofread for any mistakes or typos.
The final copy of the minutes is then sent to all team members, along with anyone who missed the meeting or who would benefit from knowing what happened. This guarantees everyone has access to vital information in a timely manner and that even if you miss a day, you will not experience work-related FOMO. 💞
What are meeting minutes used for?
Meeting minutes serve many purposes. More than a way to remind participants of what was discussed, they’re also a great accountability tool. If someone agrees to take action or perform a task, the minutes serve as a reminder.
Plus, the information provides a quick way for senior leaders and higher-ups with busy schedules to stay updated on big changes. Or if a teammate couldn’t attend, they can reference the minutes and follow up with the appropriate person for further questions or comments.
But our personal favorite way to use meeting minutes is for rewarding those who have done exceptional work.
Who doesn’t love healthy team morale? 👏
If a client or team lead compliments your superior performance on a project—that goes in the minutes! You can even use the meeting minutes as evidence of your great work during your next performance review. Minutes are more than just the meeting’s big headlines, they also provide a record of positive recognition among your group.
Who should write your meeting minutes?
Anyone who takes part in a meeting could theoretically write the meeting minutes so long as they follow everything in detail. But to promote efficiency, transparency, and an open flow of communication among the group, a good best practice is to designate one person whose only responsibility is to write down the meeting’s discussions in a standardized format.
The fastest typer in the group might seem like the obvious choice, but instead, choose your minute-maker based on the person’s ability to process information quickly and think critically. Transcribing is one thing, but understanding the information is another.
You’ll want someone who understands the meeting’s subject matter and can keep up with the discussion. Ideally, this person isn’t new to the group because they may lack the context needed to accurately convey what they’re hearing.
And for leaders assigning the writer, don’t just look to the women in your group to take the minutes. Unfortunately, gender bias actions still occur regularly in the workplace, which is why a team lead shouldn’t default to only women for administrative tasks.
Instead, try asking the group who would like to take the minutes. Make sure it’s someone who is attending the meeting but didn’t plan it. Let the person who set the meeting manage the agenda and focus on the discussion.
What should be included in the meeting minutes?
Meeting minutes will vary depending on your team’s needs, industry, or product, but all minutes should include a few key bits of information:
- Meeting title and subject
- Date and time
- Record of attendees (name, title, and organization)
- A meeting agenda
- A brief summary of each discussion item
- Major decisions and action items
- The date of the next meeting
Some components will be longer than others. The title, date, and time should take up no more than a line, while the actual summary of the agenda may take a few paragraphs. Meanwhile, the attendees and action items should be succinct, bullet-point lists.
Each section of the meeting minutes should align with the meeting agenda. This helps the reader understand the order of events and easily hop around the minutes to a specific point! Think of your meeting minutes as the Spark Notes of the meeting—they’re easy to digest but still give you the whole story!
If additional topics are covered that weren’t originally on the agenda, you can create a new section for this or designate another section to cover “open discussion,” “other items,” or some other term to denote that an issue arose that wasn’t initially planned.
Capturing all of this information is critical to ensuring the notes are comprehensive and thorough. Depending on the size of the meeting or the complexity of the topics, it may help to have more than one person taking notes. That way you can make sure nothing was missed in the primary summary. 🤓
The best approach for creating the meeting minutes of your dreams
The way you record meeting minutes will depend on your writing style and your ability to capture notes quickly. No need to worry about speed right off the bat though, with a little time and experience, you’ll develop a rhythm for capturing the right information.
That said, here are a few reminders to help you create the best meeting minutes of all time:
Your notetaker is not your minutes writer
Sometimes meeting planners will assign facilitators to take notes on a meeting and later ask the same person to create meeting minutes from those notes. Other times, the meeting planner may even use these terms synonymously! You’ll likely sacrifice the consistency and quality of your minutes by doing this.
Notes and minutes are different—and they need to be treated that way!
Putting too much responsibility on the notetaker can lead to less comprehensive notes or gaps in sections of the meeting minutes. By overloading one person with both jobs, you may compromise their ability to do either task successfully.
So if you’re responsible for the minutes, give them 100% of your focus.
Tell the story as efficiently as possible
Stick to the important points. Instead of harping on every little detail, focus on the main points and leave it to the reader to ask questions. Your minutes will point them in the direction of the right person to follow up with. 🙂
If an issue is raised in the meeting, be sure to document:
- The problem or challenge being addressed
- The ideas being considered as solutions
- The agreed-upon path forward
- When you can expect the problem to be resolved
Including extra information can get in the reader’s way, making the minutes harder to follow. A better idea is to only include the most salient points.
Clean it up
Trust me, you’re not going to want to send in your raw meeting without a heavy edit. Instead, use your notes as the foundation to build your minutes upon. During the editing process, you’ll craft the notes into a coherent narrative that follows your team’s consistent minutes structure.
During the meeting, focus on the information. Don’t worry about the organization of your notes until you’re ready to edit—that’s when the minutes’ final form takes shape!
Re-reading and re-writing the notes will help you better remember the discussion and give you a fresh perspective on each topic.
Pro tip: Rather than trusting your good ol’ fashioned pen and paper for this job, try taking structured notes in a digital notepad!
Tools like ClickUp’s Notepad and Chrome Extension provide a quick and intuitive solution for fast note-taking. Instantly add formatting and style with rich text editing to make your notes more thorough, even mid-meeting.
Always, always, always ask questions!
Don’t leave anything to chance when you’re going back over your notes.
If any notes or comments seem unclear, reach out to that person for clarification if you can. What’s most important is that you get the facts correct for those who couldn’t attend or need a refresher on what occurred. Accuracy over speed!
Accountability starts with the action items
Your action items will be one of the shortest components of your meeting minutes and possibly the most important!
This is the section where you record the next steps for solving problems addressed during the meeting. That’s why every action item should include a few hard and fast details:
- The decision or action that needs to be taken
- Who is responsible for completing the task
- When it should be complete
This is how meeting minutes promote accountability and help participants track tasks more effectively. Our suggestion? Craft your meeting minutes in a dynamic document tool that allows you to add and assign comments to your writing.
(AP) Style matters
It’s always a good idea to follow the AP Stylebook when finalizing your summary. The meeting minutes should be edited, proofread, and free of errors. Typos pull the reader’s attention away from the matters at hand and honestly, they’re just not professional.
Check, double-check, and have someone else check your work. Eliminate mistakes and let the reader stay focused on the content.
Get your facts straight
The primary purpose of meeting minutes is to truthfully convey what happened.
Consult your notes or the meeting recording to ensure you’re sharing the correct information. And instead of guessing, talk to your peers! Do everything you can to verify that the minutes are reliable.
The ultimate meeting minutes template you’ve been missing
Meeting minutes sound simple enough, but it’s a lot of information to remember. Yes, we have our peers, our notes, and sometimes, we’re lucky enough to have recordings to refer to. Otherwise, meeting minutes are a one-shot deal! Talk about pressure. 😵💫
Plus, it’s important to make your process repeatable and as simple as possible. The best way to do that? Use a template!
Simply put, a template is a fill-in-the-blank document that you can use over and over again. This will save you the time of formatting a document from scratch, leaving you free to focus on the substance of the meeting itself.
Our favorite is ClickUp’s Meeting Minutes Template.
Not only is it beginner-friendly, easy to customize, and extremely thorough—it exists within ClickUp’s powerful and collaborative Docs feature that allows you to work alongside your team with real-time editing.
Add emojis, images, links, tables, and banners to instantly structure your notes and make your writing stand out. Plus, share your Doc instantly via URL, or attach it to your task for easy access at any time. And did we mention ClickUp Docs are connected directly to your workflows?
Choosing the right platform to track, manage, and document everything
While templates can save you a ton of time, they become even more valuable when you can edit, access, and manage them alongside your other work. Project management software like ClickUp is designed to fix the very problem and so much more.
Even chose from ClickUp’s growing library of templates or create your own to fit your team’s unique needs. 🦄
And for the best part: these features are completely free.
ClickUp’s comprehensive Meeting Minutes Template, collaborative Docs, and plenty of powerful meeting management features are accessible to anyone for free, forever. Want to get in the driver’s seat? Get started right now!