Whether they take place in a conference room, a busy café, or over a Zoom link, meetings are an essential part of working life. They’re a chance to get people together to brainstorm ideas, sort out challenges, and clarify any questions quickly.
Because it’s hard to get busy people together, it’s vital that we make the most of meetings. Taking meeting minutes is a great way to record their contents, making sure the important points are written down so they can be actioned later.
This blog post will look at what meeting minutes mean for modern organizations, how to write them, and the best practices to apply. It’ll also include top tips on saving time with a pre-built template that’ll help you record key information and turn actionable items into tasks, delivering projects faster and more efficiently than ever.
What are meeting minutes?
Put simply, meeting minutes are notes about what happened during a discussion or get-together. Think of them as a story that begins when the meeting starts and ends when the meeting finishes. They serve as an official record of the decisions made, tasks assigned, and actions decided upon. They preserve the knowledge and intentions shared, making them a valuable point of reference for everyone involved.
By documenting your discussions, decisions, and deadlines, you’ll create a clear path forward — eliminating confusion, misunderstandings, and inefficiencies.
Good minutes can:
- Provide an official record: Meeting minutes provide a reliable record of what was discussed and agreed upon during a meeting. This may be relied upon for reference, evaluation, and clarification over time.
- Enhance accountability: Establish responsibility by recording who has been assigned which tasks, deadlines, and objectives. The minutes can then serve as a guide for stakeholders as the project progresses.
- Share information: If a key member couldn’t attend the meeting, meeting minutes are a useful solution for catching up on missed discussions. Simply share the document by email or tag them in the project space.
- Track progress: In regular meetings, minutes can operate as a benchmark to track progress, allowing participants to review previous decisions, check that milestones were achieved, and follow up on action items.
- Justify decisions: With the passage of time, it can be challenging to remember why decisions were made. Minutes can help to remind stakeholders about key considerations at the time. This can be particularly helpful in future audits or business queries.
How to write meeting minutes
Meeting minutes lay the foundation for future business discussions around strategy and next steps. As such, you need to know how to write meeting minutes effectively to minimize the risk of confusion or misinterpretation of instructions or action items.
There are several key elements you’ll want to include whenever you take meeting minutes. These include:
- Basic information: This includes the date, time, and location of the meeting as well as the names of attendees, organizers, and the person responsible for the minutes.
- Agenda items: This is a list of topics that were discussed in the meeting, presented in the same order that the discussion took place.
- Decisions made: Always document the outcome of the meeting, including decisions, agreements, and the results of any votes carried out.
- Action items: List any tasks that have been assigned or agreed upon, along with the details of the assignees and deadlines.
- Next steps: Don’t forget to record any remaining tasks to be accomplished, follow-up meetings, or plans for implementation.
- Attachments: Any reports, charts, or other documents referenced in the meeting should be included with the minutes.
Here are the most important steps you should follow to make sure your minutes are comprehensive and reliable:
Note the finer details
A critical element for any meeting minutes is information on when and where the meeting took place. It may seem obvious, but it’s easy to overlook. With the date, time, and location, you can develop an archive of previous meetings to timestamp the birth of certain ideas or the launch of different initiatives.
Another straightforward element that should be present in meeting minutes is a list of participants. Failure to do so can result in confusion later down the line as the records won’t show who was involved in the meeting.
Summarize the meeting goal
A project goal statement or summary outlines the main purpose of the meeting. This is the overarching objective that will provide context to any of the action items assigned in the wake of the meeting.
In any meeting, there’ll typically be a single topic of focus. It’s important to note this down so anyone reviewing the minutes will understand the conversations that took place and the action items that came from the meeting.
Recap the previous meeting
A simple recap of the previous meeting can again provide context to the current one. With a list of agenda items and action items from the last meeting, it’s easier to stay on track and keep the conversation moving in the same direction.
It also helps prevent instances in which a particular issue is overlooked as it hasn’t been written down and is forgotten about.
Detail the agenda items
Agenda items are any topics or activities that you discuss during the meeting. By detailing the agenda items, you can create an accurate record of exactly what issues were addressed, the concerns raised, and the resolutions reached.
It also provides an idea of the structure of the meeting, mapping out the order of conversation, which can be useful for future reference.
Define the action items
Action items are the tasks assigned to participants after the meeting has concluded. They stem from the overall action plan born from the project goal and help provide direction to each employee regarding the next steps.
To keep track of action items in meeting minutes, it’s best to use a template to quickly plug them in as they arise. Once the meeting is over, share the action items as soon as you can so everyone has access to them.
Use a pre-built template
Wrike provides a library of tried-and-tested templates that can help you make sure your work is uniform and fast. Our meeting notes template with actionable items is very popular with users in every industry, as it helps them capture all the information they need.
It’s an easy and predictable way to track minutes and record vital information. You can even create tasks and subtasks from action items, then tag them into folders to keep the meeting notes organized and aligned with your overall organizational goals.
Assign responsibility and deadlines
The last step to writing meeting minutes is assigning responsibility to the right participants and setting reasonable deadlines. An action item that isn’t assigned to anyone or doesn’t have a due date is worthless as it won’t be prioritized.
To bring all these elements together in a coherent way, you can use the Wrike actionable meeting notes template. With a pre-formatted structure, all you have to do is enter the information into the corresponding fields as you go.
This way, you won’t struggle to keep up with the pace of the meeting as you don’t have to worry about creating categories for each element along the way.
Meeting notes best practices
While taking meeting notes may seem relatively straightforward, it’s not uncommon for the meeting to get away from you as you’re typing up the minutes. To prevent this from happening and to make the best notes possible, here are some best practices to bear in mind:
Back up your meeting notes
If there’s anything worse than poorly taken meeting notes, it’s notes that are impossible to track down. Writing notes on paper is an outdated practice that’ll likely cost you in the long run and, of course, takes far too much time to digitize and distribute effectively.
Your best option is to take the notes on a laptop or tablet, and rather than store them in a single place such as in an email, use a collaborative work management tool like Wrike. With Wrike, your notes will instantly become available to anyone you share them with, so you can have full transparency from the moment you upload them.
If you use Wrike’s actionable meeting notes template, your job will be even easier since the notes will already be located in the software.
Distribute the notes quickly
With meeting minutes, you want to distribute them hot off the press. As soon as the meeting is over, all the participants should receive a summary, a list of action items, and any additional notes you took.
That way, you streamline progress towards your project goal as each participant can get to work on the action items they were assigned as soon as they get back to their desk.
Whichever medium you use to store and distribute your notes, set reminders to keep the topics discussed in the meeting fresh in the participants’ minds.
When you use a communication tool like Wrike, you can trigger reminder alerts for all the participants through the various action items you’ve assigned to them. Wrike’s integration with Google Calendar also lets you sync up with your calendar to ensure no deadlines are missed.
Designate an action item manager
While it may not be an official role, it’s worth designating one person to oversee the completion of the action items you assigned. This person’s responsibility will be to follow through with the participants and ensure they’re on track to finish their action items in time for the deadlines, providing assistance when necessary.
One of the most important aspects of meeting notes is acknowledging previous discussions while also looking ahead to upcoming meetings. To make sure your meetings follow a common thread and build upon one another, be sure to send invitations to follow-up meetings on the same day as the initial meeting.
Meeting minutes examples
In James Bond films, it was usually Miss Moneypenny taking a meeting’s minutes, but today, the whole process can be automated and accelerated with powerful work management features like Wrike’s. However you choose to record them, the basics haven’t changed much over the years.
Here, we’ll look at two typical meeting scenarios that might take place in any organization around the world.
1. Project meeting minutes
Let’s imagine a mobile app development project meeting. As project milestones are discussed and new tasks delegated, it’s essential that the details are recorded, including action items, responsible individuals, and deadlines. Here's an example of how those meeting minutes may look:
Title: Project meeting – mobile app development
Attendees: Team A, Team B leaders, Project Manager
- Overview of current progress
- Identified UI glitches to be fixed by Team A by the end of the week
- Team B has finalized back-end updates
- Upcoming milestones
- Implementation of new security features next week
- Preparations for beta testing
- Action items
- UI fixes: Team A (Due: Friday)
- Security features: Project Manager to draft requirements (Due: Monday)
- Beta testing: Team B to start prep (Due: Next Wednesday)
2. Departmental meeting minutes
Department meetings often pool various strengths within a company to solve challenges. For example, in a marketing department brainstorming session, many ideas will surface and sometimes conversations will rapidly develop. Without meeting minutes, valuable insights may get lost. Here’s another example of simple minutes, this time for a marketing meeting:
Title: Marketing meeting – Q4 campaign brainstorming
Attendees: Marketing Team, Creative Director, Digital Strategists
- Ideas discussed
- Influencer marketing for product X
- SEO efforts to target essential keywords
- Social media campaign with a focus on user-generated content
- Chosen strategies
- Emphasis on influencer marketing and SEO efforts
- Further research required for social media campaign
- Action items
- Influencer outreach: Assigned to Digital Strategist Annette (Due: Monday)
- SEO keyword mapping: Assigned to SEO Specialist Harry (Due: Friday)
Both of these examples are very simple, but meeting minutes can be as complex as you need. By using Wrike’s ready-to-go template, you can store your notes in one centralized secure platform, making them available for access and consultation any time. You will also be able to attach any relevant files like presentations or research documents. Custom fields can be added to track specific tags, such as story points. Use these data as filters so you and your team can find the information you need fast.
Meeting minutes in project management
Project managers are under more pressure than ever to do more with less. For some, that means rising expectations, increased pace, and additional meetings. It’s crucial in these busy times to use meeting minutes as a tool for effective project management, as they can play a key role in tracking progress, ensuring accountability, and facilitating communication among team members.
Progress tracking: Meeting minutes can record decisions taken, tasks assigned, and tentative timelines decided upon. Over time, these minutes can serve as a set of goals; reviewing them can help gauge how far the project has come. If roadblocks occur, timelines can be reassessed and plans adjusted in new meetings — with a fresh set of minutes.
Accountability: Well-prepared minutes should capture the specifics of deliverables, including who is responsible for what task and by when. These recorded commitments promote a sense of duty, motivating team members to meet deadlines and fulfill their responsibilities. This type of accountability can really enhance a project’s efficiency and productivity.
Communication: Can’t make a meeting? It happens. Minutes are a great way to make sure that absent team members stay up to date and on the same page about project plans, updates, and individual responsibilities. They can also foster transparency and alignment by clarifying any misconceptions or ambiguities as team members can tag each other to discuss further.
While ostensibly a simple, almost old-fashioned concept, meeting minutes are actually the lifeblood of effective project management. Their role extends beyond being a mere record of a meeting, as they help to turn the cogs of progress from planning to execution. Well-constructed meeting minutes can help to deliver projects on time, with minimal delays, roadblocks, or miscommunications.
If you’re wondering what that might look like in real life, we’ve put together a list of the types of meetings project managers might have every day.
Popular project management meeting types
Let’s talk about a few of the most common meetings and how they’re best managed, from start to finish. You can use this information to create and use the most helpful meeting notes templates. Here are a few of the most important meetings that happen at the beginning, middle, and end of a project:
- Project kickoff
- Brainstorming session
- Project review/lessons learned
Everyone knows the basics of a project kickoff meeting: Get the team together, talk about the project, share expectations, and discuss how to work together. The result should be a team that’s on the same page and ready to hit the ground running. There are a number of specific elements that go into a successful kickoff meeting, including:
Develop an agenda: The agenda should include the purpose of the meeting, as well as a project statement/summary, participant list, project scope, timeline, approach, assignments, how collaboration will take place, and any background information to help attendees prepare.
Devote adequate time to agenda items: Introductions may take five minutes, while discussing the project scope may take 15-20 minutes — and that’s okay. If you don’t have estimated times listed on the agenda, keep timing in mind as you go through the meeting.
Cover every item on the agenda: This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to get off track and not fully address an agenda item or two. If you know you might not address every agenda item, cover your highest priorities first.
Follow up promptly and accurately: The meeting isn’t over until you follow up — share meeting notes, action items, the schedule of next steps, and suggested times for the next meeting with all attendees. A meeting notes template makes this easier since all information from the agenda and conversation during the meeting is captured in one place.
Now to the next meeting: Could it be a brainstorming session? Yes, please!
Brainstorming meetings run the risk of going off on tangents, using a lot of time but not producing results, and bringing together too many people to be effective.
Jeff Bezos is known for the “two-pizza rule” for meetings: If there are more people than can be fed by two pizzas, there are too many people in the meeting. It’s brilliant, right? You want to generate lots of ideas, but more bodies don’t equal more ideas. Brainstorm meeting best practices include:
Keep the invite list small. Follow the pizza rule and mix it up. Bring together people from different departments or teams to get fresh perspectives.
Plan at least two brainstorming meetings — one to generate as many ideas as possible and another to focus on the best ideas from the first meeting. It’s possible an idea or two can be refined or combined and result in the ultimate solution.
Ask participants to come prepared. Provide some background information and ask participants to come up with a few prepared ideas. That makes the meeting go more smoothly right from the start.
Set a 30-minute meeting limit. The longer the meeting, the fewer creative ideas you’ll get at the end. Plan to keep it short and sweet so participants don’t get tired.
Consider the location. Another meeting in the same old conference room could stifle creativity. Perhaps have a “progressive meeting,” similar to a progressive dinner, where participants move to different areas during the meeting. Or consider a lunchtime session in a reserved room at a local restaurant.
Reinforce that there are no bad ideas. Gather every idea your team can muster, then take some time after the meeting to cull less-creative solutions. Your second session can focus on the best of the best ideas.
After all that brainstorming and work, what comes next?
You’ve kicked off the project, brainstormed the heck out of it, then finished it — and now it’s time to wrap things up with the project review or “lessons learned” meeting. This meeting can be a minefield of challenges. It’s easy to go negative. Participants can pile on one person or a less-than-positive event and make it a scapegoat. Some people may not be receptive to constructive criticism.
The list goes on — but this is one of the most valuable kinds of meetings. Done right, the project review meeting helps teams determine what went well, what should be changed for the next project, and what should perhaps be removed from the project checklist altogether.
Gather relevant information. That includes reports, data, and feedback from the team, client, or partners during the project. This should be shared in advance of the meeting to inform the conversation.
Select a handful of events to discuss in detail. Choose a few good and a few bad so you can learn from both.
Develop and share the agenda. Include the relevant data and specific events so participants can prepare for the meeting.
Set the standard of civility and politeness. Remind participants that everyone’s feedback is important and feedback should be directed at the project, not specific individuals. No cage fights!
Be open to all feedback. Some of it may not be complimentary, but keep an open mind and remember the purpose of the meeting is to improve for next time.
Using the Wrike actionable meeting notes template
To start, create a parent folder in Wrike titled ‘Meeting minutes.’ Within this folder, you can create various action items to get right to work once the meeting is over.
In the description area, you can map out all the previously described elements to accurately define what went on in the meeting. Use various views in Wrike to format the elements in a way that makes sense to you, and simply input the relevant information once the meeting is in session.
Don’t forget to include any additional notes that may not fit under the label of ‘agenda item’ or ‘action item’ but are still important for the ongoing success of the project.
Following the meeting, Wrike acts as an action item tracker since you’ll be able to visualize it in the dashboard even once it’s been assigned to a participant. You can effectively keep track of all the action items and monitor any progress that’s been made towards achieving the goals you set.
Meeting notes with action items can be complicated to type out, assign, and back up without the right system. The Wrike actionable meeting notes template provides a comprehensive framework for your notes and is backed up by powerful communication features for seamless follow-through.
Wrike’s ready-to-go actionable meeting items template is a best-in-class example of minutes that create a meeting agenda, record crucial details, and turn action items into tasks.