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Meetings are important – more important might be the outcome of meetings. These meeting’s results are summarized and described in minutes. Here are some of the experiences we’ve had over the past few years.

Minutes last 4 weeks

In one case, the minutes were delivered 4 weeks after the meeting. In the meantime, various activities should have been implemented, but the concrete descriptions – as agreed at the meeting – were missing.

This situation leads to confusing work.

Minutes are a verbatim text output of the conversation

All speeches, from each participant, were written down. This sounds like this:

“Mr. A mentioned, that the team should do this or that. Mrs. B answered, that in the frame of the project, the production of the written content may last longer. Mr. A asked how long the delay will be estimated. Ms. C answered that an exact estimation is not possible due to the upcoming holidays … and so on. More than 20 pages!

Minutes do not have a table of contents

Minutes of approximately 15 pages with 7 items in the agenda did not have a table of contents.  This made it almost impossible to find relevant content quickly. This searching process costs much time – unnecessarily wasted by the search process.

We don't need minutes, we have recorded the meeting

OK – the meeting lasted for one and a half hours. My questions are

  • Who will watch the complete video again?
  • If you look for a specific part, for example for a done decision – how will you find it?
The minutes do not make visible done decisions

In most cases, you look for specific content in the minutes. This will be done in decisions or dates 8for example of milestones) or the name of the responsible person. If the decisions are not listed in an easy-to-find way, you start to waste your valuable time again with searching.

The minutes do not provide a list of participants

For participants of a meeting, it is hardly possible to remember who else attended the meeting. Therefore, on the cover sheet of the meeting, the participants should be listed.

Useful hints to make it better

Reading the issues mentioned above, you will want to get some recommendations on how to make it better.

Why write minutes?

The aim of minutes is to

  • Create a written follow-up of details of the meeting, covering venue, date, time, participants
  • Summarize the discussion points, agreed actions (mentioning involved people and dates) and decisions done during the meeting
  • Know about the key conclusions
  • Have available easy-to-follow-up notes of the meeting conversations
  • Mention all relevant attachments of material presented or used at the meeting.

Expectations of participants

Participants at the meeting may expect the delivery of the draft within some days (short meetings within two or three working days).

Minutes should have a cover sheet with detailed data of the meeting (project, attending people, date, time, topic of the meeting).

The document itself should be well-structured – with numbered headings – and have a list of content (linked to the headings).

Additionally, a list of participants with their contact data should be at the end of the minutes, and a To-Do list, where the next activities are described with naming the activity, the responsible person, the deadline, and – if applicable – the status.




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