How to Take the Best Meeting Notes (With Templates)
To put it simply: note-taking makes any brainstorming, process, or project meeting better for everyone.
It’s a powerful engine to build a productive work culture for the future. But humans aren’t machines, so we need the right systems to remember and recall information we’ve heard.
Did you know your memory starts to decline within the first 24 hours you first learned something? This is called the Forgetting Curve. It measures how quickly we forget information over time if we do not attempt to retain it.
It’s not only up to our memory strength to retain information from meetings, but the approach to capturing and communicating the information to ourselves and others.
In this guide, we give you the templates, tools, and tips to transform your virtual and in-person meeting productivity so you’ll feel confident in your note-taking system!
Before the Meeting
Tip 1: Share meeting agenda responsibilities
In Reclaim.ai’s Productivity Trends Report, they learned professionals spend an average of 21.5 hours in meetings—over half a standard workweek!
Productive meetings are essential to the success of a healthy, growing business. As a team leader, project manager, or executive, you are tasked with nurturing processes and activities so every employee has the tools and resources to get work done.
Use an itinerary template to plan your next meeting!
Allow your meeting attendees to contribute to the meeting agenda. This will accomplish two important things:
- Your attendees have a good idea of the meeting cadence and how their time will be spent
- Your notes will be richer in information and authority because different perspectives, subject-matter expertise, and knowledge are organized in one place
Tip 2: Use the meeting agenda to take notes
Your meeting agenda is the best environment for taking meeting notes because you’ve already outlined all the topics, key points, questions, and goals in one place. Especially when you’re facilitating the meeting and taking notes, it’s a challenge to juggle both activities.
The agenda helps you navigate from one topic to another while monitoring the meeting’s progress. If too many side conversations happen and meeting attendees get off-topic, you can direct everyone back on track. If you’re falling behind on time, you can skip or speed through less important topics.
More importantly, you should avoid the trouble (and unnecessary stress) of switching back and forth between the meeting agenda and a blank page for notes.
If you have the responsibility of taking meeting minutes—notes and decisions captured in formal meetings that require approval from senior leadership—check out our various free meeting minutes templates:
- Construction Meeting Minutes Template
- PTA Meeting Minutes Template
- Sales Meeting Minutes Template
- Release Notes Templates
- Safety Committee Meeting Minutes Template
- Shareholder Meeting Minutes Template
- One on One Meeting Templates
- Meeting Minutes Template
During the Meeting
Tip 3: Filter the most important information
Somewhere between the ums and likes, there are important details to pay attention to when a person is speaking in a stream of consciousness. But with a little context, confidence, and creativity, you’ll be a note-taking wizard in any meeting scenario.
Here’s what this looks like:
Listen for the clues and cues the speaker is giving you for context
The rule of thumb is to be prepared for everything. But listen for any emphasis placed on what they’re saying, questions asked, and explanations shared that will affect the project/task/goal.
Be confident and ask the speaker to clarify what they’re saying
To summarize one point and not hear the key details of the next is something we all experience while taking notes! If you’re lost in what they speaker is saying, chances are, other attendees are too! The last thing you want to do is share misinformation. These meeting notes will be referenced later in time, so you need the truth and nothing but the truth! (Your team members will thank you later.)
Get creative and observe those around you
Is there someone in your workplace who nails meeting productivity every time? Who makes great meeting notes and conversations look so effortless? Take a mental page from their book and observe how they make the people in the room engaged and motivated. What comes out of the quality of their meetings is clear meeting notes that inspire action.
If you don’t have a person that comes to mind, we got you! At ClickUp, we are obsessed with focusing on efficiency and output.
The key to our meeting productivity success is organizing toward action. Our ClickUp Docs are always mobilized for teams in every time zone to get the information they need right away.
Here’s a peek at the four standard sections in our meeting notes: Action Items, Resources Needed, Follow Up, and Conversation Recap.
Tip 4: Tag team members in the document for follow-up
Working with cross-functional and multi-time zone teams calls for an accountability helping hand. People are jumping from one meeting to another and can forget to complete their action items or follow-ups.
Remember the Forgetting Curve?
ClickUp teams use the @mention and comment features regularly within Docs to track, update, and collaborate on work. This is perfect to keep together our related side conversations and the “I just remembered!” thoughts.
When people are tagged in a comment, they will see their names highlighted in their notification feeds.
After the Meeting
Tip 5: Keep up the momentum with a meeting recap
Approach this tip with the mindset no one has time to read through the meeting notes. Especially if management needs a quick status or recap about what happened, you’ll want to provide this brief overview in a friction-free location.
Each meeting should have a dedicated, recurring task to bridge relevant team members, Docs, and even other tasks for past, present, and future meetings.
How it works: Post a recap of key points in the task along with the meeting notes linked. You’ll save yourself and others time in the future from hunting down information. This connects all work in one central workspace and out of inboxes.
If you’re curious about ClickUp and want to start with basic organization, create tasks to organize all your meeting notes—project kick-offs, agile ceremonies, and new hire onboarding—start with the Meeting template!
Building this resource is also a valuable tool for team leaders to monitor the number and quality of meetings everyone is spending time participating in!
Bonus Tip: Instantly Capture Short Meeting Notes
Does your Google Drive look like this?
It happens to the best of us!
You’ll sometimes want to jot down quick notes for your eyes only or brain dump thoughts while you’re on a phone call or Zoom meeting. The problem is it becomes nearly impossible to find that one piece of information you know you logged.
For these scenarios, don’t use a Google Doc. Instead, use the ClickUp Notepad—the perfect digital pocket companion for note taking.
Access the Notepad from your browser or mobile device to build a repository of thoughts, checklists, and almost-ready tasks in one place! The ClickUp Notepad also includes:
- /Slash commands: Format your note with headers, bold fonts, lists, and much more
- Drag-and-drop: Add images, gifs, videos, and other files directly into your notes
- Search: Search your notes by keywords found in the title or description of a note
- Archive/Unarchive: Archive or unarchive your note
- Convert: Convert your note to a task—or a Doc!
A final consideration for the best meeting notes experiences: Your note-taking strategies and preferences will evolve over time. When you’re going through your options for the perfect note-taking tool, prioritize customization and flexibility.
The tool of your choice should save you time, not spend your energy. Spending your energy on things like note maintenance takes you away from the work moving the needle in your tasks and projects.
We know you’ll love the ClickUp Notepad and Docs to create your best note-taking system yet. If you need to work through any meeting productivity challenges, reach out to us anytime!
Questions? Comments? Visit our Help Center for support.