Happy Valentine’s Day. Today’s post is an ode to taking better meeting notes.
Most of us are constantly hopping from one virtual meeting to the next to the extent that we believe that we simply couldn’t survive without having our Outlook/Google calendars by our side to remind us when the next meeting time is coming up.
Snooze, Dismiss, Attend.
Yes, No, Maybe.
In some cases, we have also wondered, “Wait, why are we meeting again?” “What’s the meeting about?” “Did we have any pending items from the last meeting?” “Who was supposed to do what, when…?”
For the Love of Meeting Notes. Project Management 101.
Although, there is not a perfect methodology to take or maintain notes (that I know of), here are a few handy tips from our work to help navigate the sometimes choppy love-hate relationship of keeping, maintaining, and sharing good, consistent, and meaningful meeting notes.
1. Open a shared space. Google Drive, OneDrive, SharePoint, Notion and others work just fine and share the meetings document/ folder with all pertinent meeting attendees. Depending on the team members’ roles and contribution(s) in the project, they could be made either editors or reviewers.
2. Start with the most current meeting date notes at the top of the document page. This is my personal preference. First to prevent potential vertigo/dizziness from scrolling up and down to locate the correct notes, but more so, for relevance and ease.
3. Have an agenda. You could use a simple note template for consistency. For instance, we have these broad running headers for a majority of our evaluation projects’ meetings:
Meeting date and time
Web link and phone number(s)
B. Project updates
Data collection plan/ activities (what, when, how, who…)
C. Action items
D. Next steps
E. Next meeting date
We often highlight in different colors and tag team members who need to act upon the pending/action items in a Google document that also act well as reminders. Once done, close the loop on the item.
This easy habit keeps attendees focused on items that may need a decision, outcome(s), action(s), etc. And helps with the recall too.
Sometimes, we may not have many items during a regular check-in/standing meeting, in that case, we refer to the items from the previous meeting to update or close the loop on any ongoing pending items that needed a resolution or reconciliation.
4. Notes do not need to be verbatim. I have learned this over time. I think I have gotten better with taking running notes with typos, gibberish, and all just so that I have something on paper first that everyone can see and I can document. Sometimes, I edit as I go.
After the meeting (or end of the day), I devote some time to check for fluency, typos/grammatical errors, etc and share the notes link back with the team who attended the meeting.
Here’s a V-day joke: Who always has a date on Valentine’s Day?