Let’s lay all the cards on the table and tell it like it is…
…writing meeting minutes kinda sucks.
But, let’s face it - they’re a necessary evil. When you spend countless hours in meetings each week, it’s impossible not to lose track of each discussion, action items, etc.
That’s where meeting minutes come in.
The whole purpose of writing meeting minutes is to help you archive and categorize key meeting details and action items, while cutting down the time you spend combing through the crucial information you’re looking for.
It’s easy to put a blanket statement and categorize all meeting minute templates as the same, but not all meetings are created equal. You could jump from a standup meeting to a status meeting, but both meeting types are vastly different. A standup meeting can be done even before you pull out a notepad, while a status meeting covers a lot of information in a longer period of time.
A meeting minutes template can either make or break your minute note-taking experience – so how do you know which one to choose?
We’re about to shed some light on the right template to use at the right time so you have the proper meeting minute template for your specific need.
Anatomy of a meeting minutes template
If you aren’t sure what to look for in an effective meeting minute template, here’s a breakdown of the different sections that should always be included in your meeting minutes template.
When you have different meetings with different people, it’s always a good idea to record who was present in the meeting. By doing this, you’ll have an easier time:
- recalling memories if you can visualize the faces that were in the room. Note the participants and quickly jog your memory of the high-level discussions that took place.
- following up on commitments, outstanding discussions, or action items, without forgetting someone or wondering who to go to.
Time and Date
If you’re looking for that particular due date from last Tuesday’s status meeting, but you only have a vague idea of where to find that meeting summary, it’s a lot easier to uncover those minutes if you’re organized.
It’s important to maintain an accurate historical record of any meeting that has taken place, and when you organize your meetings by date and time, they will be easier to archive and find years down the road.
As the Chinese proverb goes, “The palest ink is better than the best memory.”
Writing down tasks you need to complete not only more effectively commits it to memory, but also eliminates the guess work of what you need to do and when it’s due. We’re all human, after all – not machines – so relying on memory alone just isn’t realistic!
There are a lot of different styles of writing meeting notes. 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? We already have some tips on how you can take meeting minutes in your unique style, but in short, your summary should be concise and to-the-point.
You don’t need to capture the entire conversation verbatim. Write down only what’s important – a headline of the discussion, major points for each topic, and the relevant action items (and those responsible for them) and their due dates.
Avoid writing things like: the filler, off topic conversations, topics that will be more closely discussed at a later date, and vague brainstormings.
No meeting template is created equal
Now that you have a clear understanding of the key elements that should always be included in any minutes you take, we can turn our attention to the different templates available to you.
You wouldn’t take informal meeting minutes at an executive board meeting, nor would you scribe quickly jotted notes at a safety meeting. The tone and content of those meetings affects your behaviour, participation, and preparation, so why shouldn’t your meeting minutes be reflected in the same way?
Needless to say, whether you are attending a formal meeting or an informal meeting, you will set yourself up for success if you:
- Come prepared before your meeting begins
- Understand the right amount of effort required for each meeting.
During an informal meeting, you don’t have to take meticulous meeting notes or abide by Robert’s Rules – that just seems like a lot of effort you can spend somewhere else. On the contrary, you also don’t want to half-ass a formal meeting, either.
The goal is to deliver the perfect amount of effort for each meeting type, so let’s dissect the differences between an informal meeting minute template versus a formal meeting minute template.
Informal Meeting Minute Templates
Despite it being an informal meeting, there will still be important details shared and actions assigned – or else why are you meeting at all?! – so meeting minutes are still required.
Always err on the side of writing well-written notes, no matter the meeting type.
Informal doesn’t mean sloppy, but you can still enter the meeting with a sense of ease and write your only things that are relevant – you don’t have to go super in-depth with your meeting minutes.
Keep your informal meeting minutes to one page. No informal meeting should be longer than an hour, and if it is, the conversation should be casual, not information heavy. If you have a lot to talk about, book a more formal meeting. Remember, informal meetings tend to occur in shorter lengths, but in higher frequencies.
Let’s look at some examples of informal meeting minute templates. We encourage you to pick apart these meeting minute templates and modify your informal meeting minute template to a version that works best for you.
Use these informal meeting templates for these types of meetings:
- One-on-One meeting
- Training and workshop meeting
- Standup meeting
- Team huddle meeting
- Action item follow-up/progress update meeting
- Introduction and interview
- Brainstorm meeting
- Lunch/dinner meeting
Informal Meeting Template 1:
As much as we strive to always be prepared in our day-to-day work life, unexpected things will come up when we least expect it. Be it, a meeting that is scheduled at the last minute, or a meeting that gets bumped up to an uncomfortably close time where you feel like you won’t be fully prepared. Informal meetings can spring up at any moment — they’re informal! Inviting an AI-meeting assistant to your meetings allows you to spring-load your meetings with automatic transcription & summarization. Perfect for impromptu meetings-on-the-go.
Try Hendrix in your next meeting – for free.
Informal Meeting Template 2:
This meeting template is very similar to the one the AI-powered meeting assistant, hendrix.ai, uses – except it also includes a list of agenda items to help keep your meetings on track. Remember, keep it concise, short, and under one page. Informal
Meeting Template 3:
This style of template groups each agenda topic with its separate summary points and action items. If you prefer to record more categorized meeting minutes but find it unnecessary to create a table-based meeting template, this template is for you. This design allows your template to have mini meeting summaries under each agenda item.
Informal Meeting Template 4:
If you DO want a table-based meeting template without all the bric-à-brac, this one gives you a high-level view of an informal meeting while still keeping neat meeting minutes. Look—it’s even colour coded for all you visual professionals!
Remember, informal meetings can be held at coffee shops and restaurants, so you want to pack light. (Keep the heavy meeting binder at the office).
Formal Meeting Minute Templates
We truly hope you still don’t keep a meeting binder at the office. That’s a very inefficient way to archive meeting minutes. Let’s move on from the 1980s and boost your meeting minute taking to a more modern, digital approach.
When it comes to formal meetings, your company may use Robert’s Rules or some sort of format to create more order during your meetings.
Formal meetings occur less frequently, but in longer lengths, which means you’re inevitably going to be dealing with a lengthy meeting summary.
This doesn’t mean you’ll be tying the speed of lighting to ensure you capture every single meeting detail, your minutes should still be summarized in 2-4 sentences for each topic discussion.
Consider who these notes will be for – high level executives who are always on the move. You have a busy schedule too, so you won’t have time to brief yourself over a novel-esque meeting minute summary.
But don’t worry; you have this handled. Let’s look at some formal meeting minute templates to help you stay calm and organized.
Much like the informal meeting minutes, we encourage you to pick apart these template examples to build a formal meeting template that works best for you and your organization.
Use this formal meeting template for these types of meetings:
- Annual general meeting (AGM)
- Board meeting
- Quarterly meeting
- Problem solving meeting
- Issue resolution meeting
- Decision/planning meeting
- All-hands meeting
- Safety meeting
Formal Meeting Template 1:
Sometimes, formal meetings require your full attention, and you can’t afford to break your concentration to write down meeting minutes. Again, inviting an AI-powered meeting assistant allows you to take meeting minutes without writing down a single word. You can actually watch the live transcription, where you can flag action items, notes, and important decisions. After your meeting, you can apply edits to your transcript (if you want). Perfect for full control & customization of your formal meeting minutes.
Formal Meeting Template 1:
Formal meetings could be internal meetings, or they could include external entities, such as advisors, government workers, other companies, etc.
When you have so many different people from different places, it’s necessary you collect and include everyone’s contact information on the first page of your formal meeting minutes. You will likely be distributing these meeting minutes to everyone who was in attendance, so make sure you have that information prior to the start of the meeting.
Formal Meeting Template 2:
This formal meeting template is a classic table-based meeting template that are often used at board meetings. This particular template gives a good example of how to summarize each topic in a fool-proof and concise way.
Remember: your meeting summary should use common, neutral language. Avoid opinions and judgmental phrases like: “Jenna had a great point…” or “Tim started a heated discussion” (simmer down, Tim).
What’s great about this formal meeting template is the “Meeting Objective” column. Meetings should always lead a company in a step forward, and it’s a good reminder to ensure that each meeting has an actionable outcome.
Formal Meeting Template 3:
This style of template also groups each agenda topic with its individual summary points and action items, but it goes into further detail such as displaying: how much time is allocated towards each topic (which makes it easier to time keeping), who the individual presenters for each topic of discussion, and also lists any observers and resource persons attending the meeting—which is something that’s oftentimes overlooked.
This one also is easy to read. When you are sitting in a 3-hour long meeting, the more headers (or titles) you have for each topic discussion, the easier it will be to flip through.
Go and master your meeting minutes
Rather than thinking of meeting minute templates as a one-size-fits all document, consider the type of meeting you are attending and the appropriate amount of effort you need to put into those meetings.
We highlighted the mandatory sections you should include in each meeting minute template, and we showed some examples of informal meeting templates and formal meeting templates.
Feel free to take these examples, pick them apart and splice them into to your perfect meeting minute template. Only you know what works best for you, all we want to do is guide you in the right direction, so you can feel empowered to be a meeting minute master.
And if after this article you’re left wondering, “ok great, now I know how to summarize my notes, but what’s the best way to capture them in my meeting?” read our post all about how to write meeting minutes in your unique style.