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Recording Useful Minutes: Samples of What to Include

written by: Ryan Tetzlaff • edited by: Tricia Goss • updated: 5/18/2011

Creating meeting minutes doesn't have to be painful. With the guidance of this article and meeting minutes template, you'll get a good idea of what should go into meeting minutes.

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    Overview

    Meeting Minutes Sample Template 

    This article will walk you through a meeting minutes sample template so you can get an idea of how you should best record minutes of your meetings.

    Meetings are a common occurrence in the workplace but often we forget all about the meeting details before the seats cool off in the conference room. This is where the importance of meeting minutes comes in. Minutes capture the proceedings of the meeting in a formal way. If you do not record minutes who will remember who was tasked with a specific action item or who even attended the meeting? Meeting minutes create a permanent record of what happened in the meeting. Check out Richard Langly’s article for more information on the use of agendas and meeting minutes.

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    Meeting Minutes Sample - Getting Started

    The remainder of this article will follow along with the free meeting minutes template, so be sure to download a copy before you continue reading. For this meeting minutes sample, we will walk through creating minutes for a short project status meeting.

    The first few sections of the meeting minutes template are self-explanatory. Give the meeting a title:

    Meeting Minutes: Project Status Meeting #1

    Enter the date of the meeting and a list of who attended.

    Date: 5/1/2011

    Attendees: Ryan Tetzlaff, Sally Hanson, Bob Thomas

    This will allow you and others to go back and determine who was present in a meeting. Likewise, you can find out who was absent and needs to be brought up to speed.

    Ideally, you have already created your agenda prior to the meeting. Use a brief bulleted list to provide a high-level outline of the meeting for participants and others looking for information. You can learn more about creating useful agendas in C.D. Crowder’s article on the different types of meeting agenda formats.

    Agenda:

    • Discuss project milestones
    • Discuss potential timeline issues
    • Action item status

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    Meeting Minutes Sample - Notes, Decisions and Action Items

    Board-Meeting 

    The notes section will be where you insert this meeting’s notes. Be sure to include statements that refer to decision-making, dates and action items as well as any other items of importance. Keep the statements brief yet detailed enough for those who did not attend to be clear on what happened in the meeting. You can use your agenda as a starting point for notes.

    Notes:

    • Discuss project milestones
      • Project milestone #1 was reported by Bob to be ahead of schedule. He anticipates completing this milestone one week ahead of schedule.
      • Project milestone #2 was impacted by a vendor shipping delay. Sally reported that this delay will not delay the overall project completion date.
    • Discuss potential timeline issues
      • As discussed above, project milestone #2 was delayed due to a vendor shipping issue. Sally contacted the vendor and has received a firm ETA on the equipment arrival. No further delays are expected.
    • Action item status
      • Action Item #3 was not completed this week due to scheduling conflicts with Bob.
      • Action Item #4 was completed as expected but raised a new question about the vendor selection process. Action Item #5 is to be opened to work on this process.

    The “Decisions Made” section is useful to document any decisions that were made during the meeting. How often have you been asked, “When was that decided?” after a meeting? By tracking specific decisions that are made, you can easily search through old notes to find the answer.

    Decisions Made:

    • Due to the delay of milestone #2, we will reevaluate vendors prior to phase two of this project.
    • It was determined by Bob and Sally that a change of scope should occur to include development of a training program prior to project completion. Bob and Sally were in agreement that this would not delay the final project completion date.

    Action items wrap up the last part of the meeting minutes sample template. Action items are a means to track actions that need to happen as an outcome of the meeting you just held. Maybe you need to follow up on research, contact vendors or come up with a proposal. The action item table used in the sample meeting minutes form is simple and should only be used to capture the action items assigned in the meeting. You should have a formal action item-tracking list outside of this form to track things like assignment date, notes and closure date properly. Check out Rhonda Roberts Levine’s article for some great tips how to use Excel to track action items.

    Action Items:

    ID: 5

    Action: Research new vendors that will be able to provide timely shipping of equipment to our facility on short notice.

    Target Date: Next meeting

    Assigned: Bob

    Although meeting minutes can seem like a waste of time, it is extremely important to keep your meetings organized and well documented. If you invest time in holding meetings, you should invest time in keeping good notes for future reference. For more information on holding effective meetings, take a look at Linda Richter's article on Elements of Effective Meeting Management.

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    References

    Source: author’s own experience.

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