Meeting Minutes as a replication of your memory

Cell phones, IP phones, video & audio conferences… All of these tools and activities lead to sharing information at the speed which you could only imagine before. Unfortunately even in this case there is a great chance to loose important information without making notes.

Storing video or audio records is a great option in some cases however you will not find time later to listen to all of your previous calls and meetings to find details of the task discussed or decision made. Meeting Notes (or Meeting Minutes) is a technique that should be used in this case. Let us review key items which should be reflected in these notes and what makes them great.

What you should prepare before a call with customer or video conference with partner? Some paper (e.g. notebook) and pen (or pencil). Yes, we live in the “digital world” and we have dozen of the applications which can be used for taking notes however be careful with using your laptop during the phone call. Keyboard’s typing sound makes a noise. Also there is a feeling that you are focused on something else (e.g. replying to someone’s email or posting update in the Facebook) when your interlocutor talks to you. If you are absolutely sure that your microphone has good noise suppression or you control “mute” option every time you do not speak — go ahead and use your laptop. Otherwise consider using paper and pen.

What should be included in the meetings notes?

  • Topic discussed and brief description of the decisions made for these topics (if there are any).
  • List of the open questions left (and who should answer them).
  • Any deadlines mentioned during the call.
  • List of attendees.
Meeting Minutes from May, 27

What should you do with the Meeting Minutes after taking notes on paper?

Answer to this question depends on the target audience for delivering these questions / decisions / tasks. The only thing you should remember — it should be stored in some digital storage for only one purpose — to be able to find it later. If notes are related to you team use Knowledge base system like Basecamp or Confluence where you can post your messages and anyone in the project team will be able to find it later. If call was related to you only my recommendation would be to store that in the mailbox. Usually I am just sending email to myself with meeting minutes. It may sound odd but it helps in searching decisions made weeks and months (sometimes even years) later.

What are the benefits of storing Meeting Notes?

Meeting minutes is a “replication” of your memory for a specific call or meeting which allows you not to worry about forgetting some vital details and keep tracking of the progress made during the project. Human’s memory is not perfect and if you have a call on Friday there is a big chance to forget something by Monday especially after the “exciting” weekend.

Another benefit in storing and sharing meeting notes — your customer, partner or colleague may review notes and add anything you have missed or understood incorrectly. This will lead to avoiding confusions and not wasting time on wrong tasks.

The next (but not the last) benefit of storing meeting minutes is using them when there is a conflict in requirements and the results provided. Agile methodology introduce iterative changes to the requirements which leads to clarifications shared during the call. Storing meeting notes allows you to keep requirements up-to-date with the decisions made.