Five Things You Need to Remember When Writing Meeting Minutes
To say that “writing meeting minutes is basically summarizing a meeting” is an understatement. There are a number of factors that you have to consider about the process of writing meeting minutes. The bottom line is it’s a lot more complex and tedious than simply making a summary.
Here are five factors to consider when writing meeting minutes:
1. A clear audio recording of the meeting is vital.
An audio recording of your meeting is a crucial requirement in writing meeting minutes. It allows you to have a reference point for creating meeting minutes and when returning to key points in a previous meeting. Most importantly, the audio recording must be clear enough for you to hear what each speaker says.
You can achieve this by:
- Having an ideal environment for recording the meeting
- Using a high-quality recording device placed in the middle of the attendees
- Positioning all of the meeting attendees near the recording device
However, it’s possible to end up with an audio recording with complex audio, unintelligible speech, or background noise. These can affect the quality of the audio and make it difficult to understand what the speakers are saying.
If a low-quality recording is all you can work with, you can add markers (e.g. “[unintelligible]”) in places with complex audio along with the time it happened in the audio recording. Ideally, your colleagues can return to those markers in the recording and fill in the gaps.
Regardless, it’s ideal to have a clear audio recording from the get-go to prevent any delays.
2. A lot of time and energy are needed.
The process of writing meeting minutes boils down to this:
- On a computer, open your recording on a media player along with a word processor of your choice.
- Play the recording in the media player and transcribe the discussion - complete with speaker identification and timestamps.
- When necessary, rewind the recording to transcribe the parts where you struggled to understand the first time.
- After transcribing the audio, read through your transcript, identify the key points of the discussion, and provide the other details of the meeting (date of the meeting, the names of the participants, the agenda, and the action items)
This is far more complex than it sounds. You’ll need to be in a quiet place and use headphones to hear the audio recording clearly. As you transcribe, you’ll be playing the audio back a lot. And realistically, it often takes more than once to understand each utterance. Finally, you have to read through your entire transcript to identify the key points.
The benefits of having minutes of your meetings are undeniable. However, it does take a lot of time and energy to make, and whether it’s worth it for the additional insights is up to you.
3. You need to cover every important detail.
The essence of meeting minutes is to provide the key points and critical details of the meeting. Thus, the most effective meeting minutes include every detail to capture the flow of the discussion and enable you to acquire additional insights.
To achieve this, you need to have a basic format for taking meeting minutes that has the following:
- List of present and absent attendees of the meeting
- Previous discussion topics that are relevant to the present meeting
- Meeting agenda to indicate the context of the meeting
- Key points that summarize the critical details of the meeting
- Action items of your team as a result of the discussion
You also have to keep going through your recording or transcript to make sure that you have all the necessary details.
4. You need to cover only the important details.
Knowing how to write good meeting minutes involves identifying details in a meeting that are important, which can be challenging. Each detail can be important in its own way. However, some details are more valuable than others, especially when you consider the agenda and context of the meeting and if it leads to an action item.
You can categorize your key points by how valuable they are. Generally, this depends on the following: relevance to the original agenda, if they lead to action items, and if these are potential agendas in future meetings. When you identify key points that seem “less valuable,” you can group them under “miscellaneous items” in case they become important later. This can be time-consuming, but it should be worth it to have cleaner minutes.
5. You can use a meeting minutes service instead.
Generally, meeting minutes are a chore to make. It takes a lot of your time, energy, and attention away from more important tasks - and that’s just for one meeting. If your meetings are frequent, making minutes for each one can take its toll on you in the long run.
There are three options you can take: tire yourself out from writing meeting minutes, give up on writing meeting minutes and their benefits, or use a professional service to write your meeting minutes for you.
The last option is the best one because you get to reap the benefits of meeting minutes without the hassle of making them. With TranscriptionWing™, you can enjoy the proven expertise of expert transcribers who can write and format your minutes in the way you want, while you focus on the things that matter.