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Last modified date

Nov 24, 2022

The Complete Guide on How to Document a Meeting in 2022

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Laurentiu Bancu

Blog average read time

10 min

Last modified date

November 24, 2022


In this article, you can look forward to a definition of meeting documentation and an overview of why it is crucial to your business. We’ll share some best practices and meeting management tools you can use to make your life that much easier.

Meetings used to be a daily part of office life, but in today’s remote work world, email is often the most efficient way of communicating information to a team.

Still, when you need to work collaboratively, get people on the same page, or just have a discussion, you need a live meeting. 

By keeping excellent meeting documentation, you can make the best use of everyone’s time.

What Is Meeting Documentation?

Meeting documentation is a record of what went on at a meeting. It usually includes the topics that were (and, in some cases, weren’t) covered, who presented what, and action items. Meeting documentation is typically referred to informally as “meeting notes,” and in more formal situations, “meeting minutes.”

It’s tempting to think of it as taking notes in a class, but keeping adequate documentation is about more than just recording the memorable moments. 

Meeting documentation begins with an agenda, which lays out the purpose and structure of the meeting. It also includes copies of any presentations, plus any slides that presenters showed. You can accelerate your preparation for meetings and be ready in seconds by creating ​​meeting agenda templates in advance.

Many people take personal notes during a meeting to help with their recollection, but there’s also typically an official notetaker who records what happens. Those notes and any handouts presenters gave during the meeting are also part of the documentation.

Finally, if there are any action items to be taken, those are included too.

Why It’s Important to Record Meetings

If the meeting is necessary, do keep detailed records of that meeting. There are legal, business, and practical reasons to take meeting notes.

Legal Record-keeping

Some state and federal laws regarding corporate management and responsibility require that businesses keep detailed records of meetings where attendees make certain significant decisions or take action.

For example, companies are required by law to keep minutes of most meetings involving shareholders or a governing board for tax and legal purposes.

Keeping adequate meeting documentation can provide an accurate record in the event of a legal dispute. Accurate recordkeeping gives businesses, managers, employees, and customers a clear factual record to help them pursue or defend against a legal claim.

Meeting minutes are some of the most robust documentary evidence a party can have in court.

Training and Continuous Improvement

Keeping documentation of essential team meetings and training sessions makes it possible for teams to use those logs in the future.

For example, if a new member joins the team, there’s a record of all the meetings before they joined.

They can use those resources, saving time on training and getting up to speed.

Employees and managers can get valuable information from notes on client interactions such as sales calls and customer support inquiries.

Reviewing such notes on their own and with supervisors can help sales and customer support representatives gain objective and subjective insights into what worked well and what didn’t, improving on similar interactions in the future.

Absent Members

Conflicting meetings, vacations, sick days, and sales calls pull executives, managers, and employees in many different directions. Even in a physical office setting, it can be nearly impossible to get all relevant team members in one place at one time.

In the age of remote work, where teams are working not just across town but around the world, this problem is even more apparent. 

Coordinating calendars and time zones can be so tricky that necessary actions get delayed because the relevant stakeholders can’t get together to discuss them.

Good meeting documentation allows businesses to keep moving even when they can’t get everyone together at once. Anyone unable to attend the live meeting can catch up on everything by reviewing the record at their convenience.

Accountability

There’s nothing less efficient in the corporate world than an hour-long meeting that fails to fulfill its purpose. Keeping adequate documentation, starting with the agenda and ending with action items, can help leaders ensure that they’re using meeting time effectively.

  • Did the meeting cover everything on the agenda? 
  • Did we waste time on sidebar conversations and unrelated issues? 
  • Were the action items completed before the next meeting? 

It can be hard to answer those questions objectively without any documentation, but adequate record-keeping helps everyone stay on task.

Why Are They Called Minutes of a Meeting?

Some people think the term “meeting minutes” simply means keeping track of the meeting’s length, but it has nothing to do with time.

The term likely originates from the Latin phrase “minuta scriptura,” which means “small notes.” The “minutes,” then, are not a reference to units of time but the brief nature of the notes.

Given that there’s a Latin term for it, it’s fair to say that people have been attending meetings and taking notes on them for a very long time.

Of course, they didn’t talk any slower in the days before computers, so the designated notetaker had to be very good at capturing the essential information quickly.

Hence, their notes had to be small. Rather than writing down every word, the note taker would write down only the most essential information needed to reconstruct what happened. Over time, we developed a writing system called shorthand and other abbreviated ways of taking notes, and eventually new technology to make the process even faster.

Collaborate in One Shared Document

Today’s technology makes it possible to take more comprehensive notes, but the term “meeting minutes” persists. But just because we’re stuck with the antiquated term doesn’t mean we have to keep using the same old technology to get the job done.

The age of remote work has brought a vast universe of tools to make keeping and sharing notes more efficient.

Teams can now use cloud-based technology to take notes in a single document that meeting organizers can share with everyone. Instead of each team member taking their own notes, different team members can take notes on different segments, or a single notetaker can take notes for everyone.

Attendees can put their pens down and focus on what’s happening because they can see the notes being taken as the meeting goes on.

If there are any inaccuracies in the notes, team members can identify and correct them immediately, and they can make revisions after the fact via comments and updates.

There are a variety of free and paid platforms, allowing multiple users to collaborate on a single document, including Google Docs and Microsoft Teams.

Let Your Agenda Guide You

In the days before collaborative document editing, a meeting agenda was a static document simply passed around at the start of a meeting. Today, meeting leaders can use an agenda to make their meetings more efficient.

When creating an agenda, it can be helpful to think in terms of questions instead of topics. For example, instead of “training issues,” the agenda item can be, “What are new hires missing when they come out of training?” 

Concrete questions will drive meeting productivity more than vague, indefinite topics.

Before the meeting, the organizer should draft the agenda in a shareable document and disseminate it to all interested stakeholders, including attendees, managers, and executives. That way, everyone has the opportunity to make additions, comments, and corrections before the meeting begins.

The agenda should guide the meeting flow as much as possible, but it can also be treated as a living document. Rather than taking meeting notes in a separate document, the notetaker or attendees can fill in with the meeting details as it goes along.

This way, the agenda becomes the meeting record, saving everyone time and effort.

Incorporate Visuals to Guide and Record Discussion

Communicating visually helps make complex information clearer and keeps meeting attendees engaged in the presentation. But in today’s remote office, meeting organizers and presenters should ensure their visuals are helpful and accessible to everyone.

During an in-person meeting, there’s usually someone standing at the front of the room talking while their visual presentation plays on a projector screen of some sort. At the same time, the attendees take notes on their computers or in their notebooks.

On the other hand, the presenter, presentation, and note-taking applications in remote meetings are often all on the same small screen.

This means that visual aids such as slideshows and other graphics should be presented full-screen whenever possible.

Text should be used sparingly, if at all, in visual aids and should use a large font. That way, viewers can still see the visuals clearly, even if the presentation window only takes up a small portion of their screen.

Collect Copies of Any Reports or Presentations

Copies of all meeting documents should be made readily available to each member to help everyone better understand the topics discussed. Recordings, transcripts, presentations, and reports should all be included.

Fortunately, this is easy to do when the rest of the meeting documentation is already in a shared document.

Simply attach the documents to the shared meeting notes file, or share them separately with all interested team members. Meeting organizers should also distribute any visuals used during a meeting with the meeting notes so attendees can reference them when looking back at the notes.

During the live presentation, visual aids in meeting notes should be full-page and use large text.

Take Notes About Important Actions, Decisions, Assigned Projects, and Discussions

The purpose of taking meeting notes is not to document every word said but rather to focus on the essential details of what happened, including actions taken, decisions made, topics discussed, projects assigned, and next steps.

Remember that corporate law requires certain types of meetings to be recorded in a specific way. The meeting minutes of a governing board or other similarly important meetings should also include specific details for legal compliance, such as:

  • Date and time of the meeting;
  • Board members in attendance;
  • Agenda
  • The date and time of the next meeting.

Remember that when projects are assigned, the meeting notes should also include:

  • Who the project was assigned to;
  • What tasks must be completed; and
  • The date the project is due.

Next Meeting Date and Place

When you can get a team together for a meeting, take advantage of the opportunity to plan ahead. Reserve five minutes at the end of the meeting to prepare for the next one by planning the date, time, and location.

Consider what action items need to be completed before the next meeting and who needs to be present for those action items.

  • Does every person who attended this meeting need to be at the next meeting? 
  • Are there people missing from this meeting who must be present next time? 

It’s much easier to coordinate calendars when you already have all or most of the essential people together than it would be after you’ve all gone your separate ways.

Plus, scheduling a follow-up meeting puts everyone in the right frame of mind to take care of their action items because there’s already a deadline in place.

Request Approval From Leadership

Be aware of your company’s policies regarding approval of meetings, training, and projects. In some cases, you may need to have your agenda pre-approved by managers, executives, or other stakeholders, especially if other business segments are involved.

Also, be aware of any confidential information that may come up during the meeting, and plan to steer clear of it.

After the meeting, the agenda, meeting notes, presentations, and other meeting documentation can serve as a record for leadership and executives who were not in attendance. Leadership is responsible for approving potential projects and the minutes from formal meetings.

Filing and Storage of Meeting Minutes

Having taken the time to effectively document your meeting, use that documentation effectively by storing and distributing it so that everyone can use it.

There are several ways to go about this, depending on how your team prefers to work. 

If you shared the agenda and meeting notes as a live document, such as with Google Docs, your team members already have access to that through their accounts. But you can go one step further and create a shared drive that contains all your company’s meeting documentation in one place.

You can create a shared drive as part of your server system or use a cloud-based storage system like Microsoft OneDrive, iCloud, Google Drive, or Dropbox.

You can use folders to organize all your documentation by team or topic, and some storage providers allow you to use tags to categorize your documents even further.

Another option is attaching or linking the meeting documentation in a logical place, where your team is likely to look for it. 

For example, you can upload and link to files in Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, Slack, and other chat systems, or attach the agenda, notes, and presentation files to the calendar item in your calendar system.

Give your teams multiple ways to get to your documentation for best results. Use email, chat channels, and calendar items to link back to the shared drive where all your crucial documentation is stored. The more user-friendly your storage system, the more likely your teams will use it.

Rooms and Workspaces

In the past, Skype, Zoom, and other video conferencing services were the only way to conduct online meetings.

Companies and organizations can now conduct meetings anywhere in virtual reality workspaces in a digital universe called the metaverse.

Unlike the “talking heads” of video conferencing, the metaverse allows people to gather more naturally in virtual reality spaces. Meeting organizers can create virtual workrooms using tools like Spatial and Horizon Workrooms that team members can join with virtual reality headsets, creating a more immersive meeting experience and improving engagement.

Other service providers offer a similar experience on a more budget-friendly scale, using standard video calling hardware. 

Companies like Gather allow you to create a two-dimensional virtual office complete with workstations, conference rooms, and even a pub. Team members can move about, entering and leaving video conversations as naturally as they would in the real world.

Tools for Meeting Management

Next-generation meeting technology doesn’t stop with the metaverse.

Avoma, for instance, is an AI meeting assistant that integrates with web conferencing platforms like Zoom, GoogleMeet, etc. and offers AI-generated notes, transcribes your meetings, helps share meeting agendas in advance, and analyzes meetings to provide actionable intelligence. In fact, Avoma is a complete meeting lifecycle assistant.

Avoma

Image Source: Avoma

Zoom allows users to document meetings using real-time transcription, take notes during meetings, and collaborate on a virtual whiteboard. A potentially useful feature of Zoom, if you are a large organization, is that it allows up to 1000 participants per call.

Zoom

Image Source: Zoom

Gong integrates with web conferencing platforms and allows users to take detailed notes, collaborate with partners, and write comments in real-time. But unlike Avoma, Gong positions itself as a revenue intelligence platform.

Gong

Image Source: Gong

Miro is a collaborative whiteboard application that allows users to brainstorm ideas together in real-time.

You can use Miro to run your meetings or run workshops with your remote team. You can easily set up your meetings using one of their customizable templates, interact with every team member and make use of their nifty “bring everyone to me” feature, which grabs everyone’s attention at once.

Miro

Image Source: Miro

Google Meet allows you to conference and collaborate remotely with team members and executives from all over the world.

All you have to do is create a new meeting and then share the link with the relevant participants. The host of the meeting then has full control over who is admitted and who isn’t.

Google Meet

Image Source: Google Meet

Docket helps users create interactive meeting agendas and take notes with meeting templates while keeping teams on track with a daily tickler system with upcoming action items.

Docket boasts a recurring meeting history and instant note taker, which means that no vital information is missed and that anything said during the meeting can be reviewed later.

Docket

Image Source: Docket

Fellow makes it easy to assign action items that come up in meetings and turn them into interactive to-do lists, making your meeting time more efficient than ever and ensuring that everybody knows the key takeaways and next steps after the meeting.

Fellow

Image Source: Fellow

Before You Go

In an ever-changing world, our technological advances and innovation allow us to conduct meetings remotely from anywhere in the world. With technology constantly changing, it’s vital to learn more about having better meetings in the virtual world.

Documenting a meeting is vital for any business, particularly a business that works remotely or relies on client management. 

Having a record of meetings means that you, your team, and your clients have something to refer back to in the future or to use as a guide for anyone new to the team so that they are not left behind.

Manually taking notes can be time-consuming for everyone, plus essential information may be missed. Our recommendation is to use meeting management and meeting recording software to take the pressure off your team.

That way, team members can be present and interact in your meetings, rather than just trying to scribble down furiously what gets said.

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