Work meetings can be the bane of your existence. This is especially true if you’re a manager. You may spend more time in meetings than in your office.
At the same time, meetings are necessary to keep the company’s work on track. No one works in a vacuum. So from time to time, everyone needs to come together to talk business.
Meeting minutes are as necessary as the meetings themselves, keeping everyone on the same page. But copies of them tend to languish in your inbox or lay untouched on the corner of your desk. If that’s how you treat them, imagine how your staff feels.
Fortunately, there are tactics for making these records informative, easy to digest, and actionable. Embrace a few of them, and you’ll take your meeting minutes from languishing to lively. Here are some ways you can create meeting minutes you and your staff will read.
Take Advantage of Available Resources
Taking minutes at meetings has been around for a long time for many reasons. They’re required for legal purposes, due diligence, assignment of tasks, and follow-up on completion of those tasks. These purposes sound uninspiring, which is probably why your minutes follow suit.
Likely, the finer points of meeting minutes are not your bailiwick. So to make them less tedious and more useful for everyone involved, take advantage of the expertise of others.
Some experts have studied meeting anatomy in depth and provided many resources to improve yours. You don’t need to become a guru on the subject. Just make use of meeting minutes templates and collaborative, intuitive meeting software. These solutions will make meetings a breeze and help you produce and distribute minutes your staff will read.
Make sure the person you assign to take minutes is involved on some level with the substance of the meeting. Otherwise, that person will be like a court reporter, merely recording the conversation. A person’s minutes will sound like rote dictation, and no one wants to read that.
You should consult with the person assigned to take minutes about the schedule and the goals for the meeting. They should understand the meeting’s substance to avoid recording unnecessary details. Making the content of the minutes salient to your staff will likewise make them relevant and, therefore, a good read.
When the note taker is a teammate with the needed context for the discussed subjects, they can keep the minutes on target. Your staff will be more likely to read minutes written by one of their own.
Remember that minutes are not depositions, recording every word spoken. Not even those who weren’t present at the meeting will want a blow-by-blow account of what they missed. And those who were there won’t even bother to read the tedious transcript.
Meeting minutes have anatomy, including routine information, such as the schedule and a record of attendance and votes. Other than that, the minutes should reflect only relevant topics and discussions. Don’t include redundancies, off-topic conversations, or editorial comments.
If you approve the minutes before their dissemination, look at them critically. They include the discussion highlights, assignment details, and deadlines your staff needs to do their jobs. If you spot anything else, highlight and delete it before hitting send.
Great meeting minutes takers are not born. They are trained for their role and have the tools to make these documents readable. The function should be treated the same way you train and equip anyone on your staff for their job.
Don’t just assign the task of taking meeting minutes to the least busy or most junior person in the office. Consider first whether they have the listening and writing skills for the job. Then make sure they have your guidance, training, and the tools — such as software and templates — to excel.
People charged with producing meeting minutes as part of their job description will likely have better work. They will also be more amenable to accepting constructive criticism and taking suggestions to heart. They will then either rise to the challenge of writing great minutes or lose that job assignment.
Unless it’s on a list of wanted criminals, something is exciting about seeing your name in print. Minutes that appeal to that desire are far more likely to be read.
Your staff will not avoid reading those hot-off-the-press meeting minutes if they know their name will be attached to assignments and affirmations. They will rely on them to ensure their to-do lists and calendars reflect updated tasks and deadlines. Moreover, they will want to read their names recorded for their role in team successes.
If you think about meeting minutes as team playbooks, your team members will also begin to. No one wants to be the kid in the class called out by the teacher for not completing an assignment. If you rely on minutes to track tasks in and out, your employees won’t miss an installment.
Effective meeting minutes are part art, part technical, and part giving your readers what they want. If you can produce minutes that achieve this trifecta, your staff will look forward to reading them. They’ll also look forward to achieving goals and delivering results chronicled in them.
The minutes you have produced for your team may not make “The New York Times” bestseller list. But done well, they can be hot reads that keep you, your staff, and your company on track.