Are meeting minutes just the formal way of saying meeting notes?
Well, kind of.
The term “meeting minutes” doesn’t refer to time at all (minute the noun), but rather “minute” the verb which means small in size: Pronounced My-Noot. Therefore, “Meeting minutes” really translates to a short report of the meeting.
The difference between meeting minutes and meeting notes
The real difference between meeting minutes and meeting notes is how they’re used in relation to the meeting. Meeting minutes typically connotate a more formal report of the meeting whereas meeting notes tend to refer to shorthand, less formal documentation. Either way, the intent is still the same: to document what you discussed.
Minutes and notes: A simple structure to document your meetings
Formal or informal, here’s a quick structure to follow to make sure you’re documenting the most important parts of your meeting:
- Who and when: Start with who attended the meeting, date and time.
- Summarize each agenda item: As you discuss agenda items, write a 1-3 sentence summary of the outcome.
- Repeat the summary for the room: Confirm the outcome before you commit it to the notes. If you’re the designated note-taker for your meetings, repeat the decision before you document it to make sure everyone is aligned. It might sound repetitive, but a quick “Before we move on, I want to confirm we all agree that X is the reason we’re moving forward with Y” will commit that decision to everyone’s memory.
- Assign action items to individuals: Add next steps as you go and assign them to individuals instead of teams. Assigning action items to individuals will ensure one person is accountable for completing the task.
- Move things to the parking lot: Park items for later. If you don’t get to an item or a tangent derails the meeting, document these in the parking lot and revisit them in your next, or a separate meeting.
Regardless of whether you call them meeting minutes or notes, it’s important to keep a running record of the meetings you’re having with your team. It will help keep individuals accountable, align the team on goals and keep your meetings organized and productive.
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