Meeting minutes are not just important, they are critical. Skipping this step is one of the biggest mistakes I see people make. If the topic was important enough to ask individuals to interrupt their work or personal time to give their attention, then the follow up is equally important. It would be rare to have a meeting that did not result in decisions and/or actions. Meeting minutes serve to memorialize decisions and support the follow through of agreed actions.
I have shared in my previous post Plan and Host Calls that Matter a recommended format for documenting decisions and capturing actions. Some calls may move through these topics quickly with assumptions. I recommend asking the participants to clarify as needed. Here is a breakout for each topic that will improve you meeting minutes.
When a decision is made or referenced make sure you capture the following for your minutes:
WHO made the decision?
WHAT was decided?
HOW was it or will it be communicated?
WHEN was it or will it be communicated?
WHO is the audience?
Asking for clarification on these points may lead to further discussion. I have also found that asking these questions has led to better alignment as assumptions are clarified. When documenting these points in your meeting minutes I recommend using; WHO decided WHAT. HOW will it or was it be communicated to WHO by WHEN.
When call participants agree that action is need capture the following for your minutes:
WHO is taking the action?
WHAT is the action agreed to?
WHEN should the action be taken?
Using these questions as a guide will ensure all participants are aligned on expectations for next steps. When documenting these points in your meeting minutes I recommend using; WHO will do WHAT by WHEN and FOLLOW-UP date.
Below is a sample of the layout you could use to organize your meeting minutes. I have included a full-length version as an attachment. Use the 'Get In Touch' link above to request a version you can edit.
Taking the time to send meeting minutes following a call builds confidence with your participants. Sending a follow-up email showing which items are complete and which remain open will also be helpful to you and your stakeholders. If the work has not been done your follow-up may serve as a reminder for someone who has had other priorities delay their efforts.
Everyone contributes to the big picture. The collaboration achieved through meetings creates an agreement between individuals. Recording that agreement and following up supports all stakeholders. These small yet meaningful steps will allow you to step back from the trees (your day-to-day work) to see the forest (the other teams).
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