I've seen my share of enigmatic meeting minutes, which usually consist of enumerating topic headings that may or may not be attributed to the speaker(s) involved. I'd always believed that the purpose of minutes was to accurately and thoroughly capture the proceedings of meetings such that those absent could, at minimum, understand the salient points of what transpired. Thus it surprises me to see examples that read like cue cards where, clearly, one had to be there to even get an inkling (to have the slightest clue) of what the meeting was about.
Here are my best practice suggestions, therefore, to create minutes that are indeed useful and worth sending to others:
- Take notes that will jog your own memory, while others are speaking. Specific techniques would vary by individual; I usually take full sentence quotes because I'm able to type quickly enough.
- While taking the rough notes, focus on action items, decisions, or points that pertain to any subsequent meetings or of special interest to those who were absent.
- In some cases, not everything should be included in the minutes. If unsure, ask the participants, and if there's a request to omit something, take note of that as well (for your own records).
- Use the notes taken during the meeting to compile informative and concise sentences. I usually do this within the first half hour after the meeting ends, while my recollections are fresh.
- Review this draft of minutes to see if the order of the content can be optimized, and re-work the draft if necessary. This is usually when I add hyperlinks to relevant web pages in the intranet and/or internet, and if anyone had sent me IMs or emails with additional content, I include the relevant attachments or quotes at this stage.
- If necessary, run spell and/or grammar check.
- Ensure the best recipients are selected to receive the minutes, and then send it out.
- If it's important to retain records of these meetings, I back them up additionally by uploading the content to a shared environment that is accessible to the right audience.