We know how daunting it can be to record meeting minutes. You’ve likely cross-referenced dozens of articles bombarding you with vague information like:
“be sure to include attendee names…”
“follow this template…”
“following the meeting, distribute to your team…”
There are countless articles telling you WHAT to write, but none of them tell you HOW to write minutes of a meeting – as in what do when you’re actually in the meeting to most effectively capture the right details.
You don’t need someone to tell you which outdated, 1960’s secretary school template to use – because there’s no shortage of those and truthfully, most will work for what you need.
No...what you actually want to know is “how can I save myself the embarrassment of drowning in the middle of a meeting as I’m frantically trying to scratch down every single word every single person is saying at what seems like lightning speed, in a way that’s going to be even remotely legible for me to summarize later?!”
The answer, my friend, is easier than you think.
Leveraging your unique style for better meeting minutes
We all work differently; there’s no one-size-fits-all working style. We all have different ways of thinking and we all execute tasks a little differently – so why would writing meeting minutes be any different?
Rather than giving you a vague step-by-step list of what should be included in your minutes, let’s start by identifying your unique note-taking style, so when you’re in your next meeting you’re confident you know HOW to take minutes in a way that works for you.
Here’s a few simple questions that’ll help you identify the best way for you to take notes based on your personality and working style.
Now that we’ve identified your note-taking style, let’s look at the tips and tricks you can bring to the boardroom to capture thorough, concise meeting minutes.
Being a perfectionist isn’t just about owning a pencil case with multi-coloured pens, highlighters, and index flags – it’s about taking notes that are so detailed and organized that anyone in your office can easily digest your meeting notes.
Perfectionists are often tempted to write every single word uttered in a meeting.
Every. Single. Word.
No single piece of information can be missed.
You likely find yourself editing your notes during a meeting for perfect grammar and syntax, and ensuring all spelling is correct. But while you’re busy perfecting what you’ve just written, the discussion is leaving you behind.
Unless you’re the fastest English language typist, typing every single word just isn’t realistic. After all, we can’t write as quickly as people speak. An average conversational pace of speaking is between 120 wpm – 150 wmp, while an average computer typist reaches about 41 wpm.
So how can you keep up with conversational speed while capturing the important meeting details?
Firstly, practice. The more you practice your typing skills, the less frequent your mistakes will be. Try taking this speed typing test to see how fast you can type and determine where you are on this spectrum.
Secondly, learn to incorporate abbreviations in your notes, which could include capitalizing letters for attendee’s names, recording action items and decisions with symbols, and excluding filler words and verbal ticks.
Thirdly, avoid the filler. You don’t need to capture the entire conversation verbatim. Write down only what’s important, like:
- a headline of the discussion,
- major points for each topic, and
- the relevant action items and due dates.
Finally, instead of frantically typing every single word, why not try one of these free apps that will help you type faster? That way you can contribute to the meeting discussion and actually be a part of the meeting. Technology is here to help you, not hinder you!
When you want the best of both worlds – thorough meeting notes and participation in the discussion - why not try recording the meeting?
There are several benefits to recording a meeting…firstly, there’s NO WRITING REQUIRED!
What better way to capture an entire meeting from start to finish than in a single audio file?! Recording a meeting ensures:
- more accountability,
- a crystal-clear reference of the meeting discussions (so you can stop worrying about missing something in your meeting), and best of all,
- you can be fully present in the discussion.
Recording meeting minutes is especially popular with auditory learners – who occupy around 30 percent of the general population.
The best meeting minute recorder is the one that you have
Most smartphones automatically come with some sort of recording app, so anybody has the ability to record minutes of a meeting. And let’s be honest, it’s likely that your phone is always at your side anyways.
Phone microphones have come a long way, but they still don’t capture the best sound – especially when you are in a bigger room with more people. Sound waves bounce on ceilings and walls, and if you’re listening to a poorly recorded meeting, you risk not being able to understand what was recorded.
For greater clarity in your audio recording, we recommend getting an external Bluetooth-powered speaker with a built-in microphone, so you can connect your phone to it.
Pro tip: If you have a lot of meeting attendees, get two Bluetooth speakers that can pair wirelessly with each other, so you can capture audio on both sides of the room.
Great recording power equals great responsibility
Some meetings may not allow you to record due to privacy and confidentiality, so it’s best practice to notify attendees prior to hitting that record button. This can easily be done with a quick update at the start of the meeting, or by including a note about the recording in the agenda or reminders prior to the meeting.
What happens after you record the meeting?
Recording a meeting is easy but reviewing your audio file for a specific section can feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
To avoid this try one of these options:
Keep an eye on your meeting recording time and jot down the time of your recording when:
- each topic of discussion starts,
- a decision is made,
- a task is assigned,
- and any other important points in the meeting that are worth remembering.
You’re still significantly reducing the amount of writing you’re doing in your meetings, while making reviewing and summarizing easier for yourself after the meeting ends.
For detail-oriented people who want to record meetings with the added benefit of getting an app that simultaneously transcribes meeting minutes, companies are gravitating to the use of AI meeting assistants who record your meetings, automatically transcribe every utterance, summarize each meeting – while organizing and recalling meeting notes, action items and data in a personal dashboard!
Either way, technology is your friend in this style of note-taking and there are countless recording tools out there. Find one that you feel will compliment your “note-taking-free” style.
Mastering the art of multitasking in the digital age is no easy feat. Like learning a language, many professionals are required to keep practicing this skill to avoid the risk of losing it.
Multitasking is very common. According to this study, many US adults spend almost half of their day multitasking.
However, multitasking in an office setting isn’t just about performing two tasks simultaneously, it’s having the ability to split your focus when you switch from one task to another in rapid succession. This is proven to be even more difficult if the tasks are similar, i.e sending an email while attending a meeting.
When you’re multitasking in a meeting, you’re juggling between listening to the meeting discussion and contributing your two cents, all while taking relevant notes. Which means, you have to seamlessly switch from each task without missing a beat.
Include only relevant information in your meeting minutes
Think of all the meeting minutes you read. Now, think of how many points you normally skipped over because only every 4th or 5th point were ones that actually mattered. Now imagine reading meeting minutes where EVERY point truly matters.
It’s possible to get there if you focus on jotting small, important notes then jumping right back into the conversation. To do this, consider introducing an index of symbols and abbreviations to jot notes even faster.
The key to multitasking is staying organized
To keep your mind and notes organized, here are a few tips:
- Try using organizational software to reduce the time spent switching between jotting quick meeting notes and staying engaged in the conversation.
- Keep your computer desktop uncluttered and close all those internet browser tabs. When you properly label folders and keep everything organized, you will have more awareness to keep your meeting notes organized, as well.
What not to include in your meeting minutes
- The filler, off topic conversations
- Conversations that will be more closely discussed at a later date
- Vague brainstormings
- The story of Brenda’s cousin’s barbecue (sorry Brenda)
The keys to mastering meeting multitasking are organization and time, and these tips will guide you in the right direction.
You are constantly driven to perform at your best, and to guide your team to grow. You understand the value of everyone’s time, but you also understand the necessary evil of meetings.
When you’re in a meeting, you don’t have time to mess around with minutes. You understand that people who can’t stay focused will experience more difficulty to jump from one task to another , and you need to stay sharp to keep progressing forward. You also understand the importance of keeping your team members focused on their goals, which means you also believe that every meeting should move you another step in the right direction.
So, what you really need is a way to record meeting minutes that allows you to stay engaged in and lead the meeting discussion.
Here are 3 note-capturing strategies that’ll work best for you:
1) Do it the ol’ fashioned way
Get someone else to write meeting minutes for you. This lifts the burden from your shoulders and gives it to someone whose sole responsibility is capturing thorough notes.
We recommend inviting someone who isn’t a key meeting participant. If you recruit someone who’s supposed to participate in the meeting, you risk not having their full attention and input when their focus is on writing notes.
Finding a ‘neutral third-party’ ensures you’re free to lead the meeting and guide the conversation, and your participants are able to engage as much as possible.
2) Use third-party transcription
You record your meeting with an audio device (or smartphone) and send the file to a third-party transcription service, where they type up your meeting minutes for you.
When you don’t have time to type up your recorded meeting notes, you can utilize third-party transcription services to remove the effort of having to type out a recorded meeting.
Here’s what that process looks like:
- you upload your recorded meeting minutes to the 3rd party’s website,
- an employee who works for that company listens to your recording and types up everything that is uttered in your meeting,
- and you receive a document with the entire meeting transcription
However, the third-party transcription service doesn’t summarize your meeting, you get every single word in all its glory, so you may find yourself rifling through an entire document to find what you are looking for.
If you have the budget and are looking for a full transcript, this is the best option for you.
3) Invite an AI meeting assistant
Want to cut out the middleman? Introduce an AI meeting assistant to automatically transcribe and summarize your meetings.
Inviting a meeting assistant powered by artificial intelligence means there’s no human intervention. In fact, your meeting minutes and action items are transcribed automatically in front of your eyes, and a concise summary is delivered right to your inbox.
With an assistant like Hendrix, your meeting summaries can be emailed to each meeting attendee, and are stored alongside a fully editable transcript right in your own personal dashboard. There, you can search for and access archived meetings, and review insights to understand your meeting efficiency.
With automatic transcription, your meeting minutes are ready even before you walk out of the boardroom.
Whether you’re new to recording meeting minutes or you’re a seasoned professional looking for ways to make minute-taking less painful, understanding your working style is the first step towards developing a note-taking style that works with you, not against you.
Regardless of how you scored in the quiz, take a look at the other note-taking styles and their recommendations, and put them to use in your next meeting to find the process that works best for you.
And if you’d like to try an AI-powered meeting assistant in your next meeting, sign-up for a free 14-day trial of Hendrix.ai!