“It provides a historical record that can be used at future meetings for verification of decisions, and as a reminder of past events and actions.”
Why is it such a big deal to take notes of a meeting? “It isn’t,” I hear you say! “I always make my notes in a meeting.” But do you share those notes afterwards with clearly defined Action Required? Is the meeting evaluated and have clearly defined post roles?
I am constantly amazed when talking with some high profile companies, that they don’t have a system or process for capturing meeting notes, especially when with clients or customers. Those that have read my articles on meetings, will know my views about them. For example, no meeting should be held unless there is some kind of action to be decided. If that’s the case, then there should be clearly defined objectives and outcomes for the meeting and the agreed-to actions need to be recorded.
In my workshops, when talking about building relationships, I discuss how it is important to have an idea of what your best Action Commitment should be for every meeting. That means, what is the best outcome that will involve the customer or client taking an action to move the process toward achieving the objectives.
Therefore, we need to record that Action Commitment so it can be referred to at the next meeting. This ensures continuity.
There is a trend now of capturing action points only and putting them into the body of an e-mail. So what’s wrong with that? Firstly, it gets lost in everyday communication. No one seems to read more than a paragraph in e-mails. So, by the way, if you want someone to take action, describe it in the first sentence and say why afterwards. Otherwise your readers won’t get to it!!
Meeting notes do not have to be a record of everything that has been said, but they should include the following:
Date of the meeting, attendees, objectives, bullet point brief notes and a separate section at the end of Action Required, to include who and by when.
This kind of approach ensures everyone is on the same page and understands reasons why decisions have been made and who has to do what by when.
Why doesn’t it happen? Lack of discipline and management. My experience has shown me that such an approach is seen as professional and efficient and leads to more action taken between meetings as people are visibly accountable. Every meeting should be started with what Action was Required from the last meeting to ensure there is a continuity of process. So by all means, highlight the Action Required in the body of an e-mail, but this should be a copy and paste from the Meeting Notes that are attached to the mail!
Try it….it really does raise the whole level of efficiency within the organization and provide more professionalism and added value for your customers and clients.