meeting note
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The comprehensive guide to writing meeting notes

Meetings are indispensable to business growth. Learn how to ace writing notes to boost collaboration and get the most out of meetings.

El equipo de Slack20 de junio de 2024

Meetings help businesses thrive. In short, they’re opportunities for brainstorming, collaboration, decision-making and feedback.

But how often have you walked out of a meeting and lost track of what was discussed? That’s why meeting notes are important. Even the act of writing them can be helpful. A study by the University of Tokyo found that writing on paper boosts brain activity when recalling information after an hour.

Read on for more on why taking meeting notes are critical to business success and how to collaboratively create them.

What are meeting notes?

Meeting notes are a written record of key discussions, decisions, action items and takeaways from a meeting. When done right, they capture important information and give attendees a clear idea of what to do next. They also keep anyone who didn’t attend the meeting up to date.
Good meeting notes usually include:

  • A summary of the meeting agenda and outcomes
  • Action items assigned to specific teams/individuals with deadlines
  • Fresh ideas to discuss in future meetings
  • Questions that popped up during the meeting and their answers
  • Open-ended questions (specifying who to follow up with)
  • Key decisions, takeaways and next steps

Types of meeting notes

Meeting notes can vary depending on what you want to convey. You can choose from different styles: business meeting notes, staff meeting notes, weekly meeting notes, personal reflection notes, collaborative notes and project-specific notes.
Each type serves a specific purpose. For instance:

  • Business meeting notes summarize crucial discussions and action points from a business meeting
  • Weekly meeting notes can outline highlights from each week’s meeting
  • After-meeting notes can offer a quick recap of what happened and what needs to be done next

Difference between meeting notes and minutes

Meeting minutes are a more formal record of what was said in a meeting. They mainly serve as formal documentation of what happened during a board meeting or an official gathering. They can be used for auditing and legal purposes.

Meeting notes are more informal summaries of the main takeaways and action items. Often used to aid collaboration, meeting notes might capture brainstorming ideas, blockers or quick project updates.

Methods and techniques for taking meeting notes

Note-taking techniques for meetings can vary from the straightforward Cornell method to the elaborate mind-mapping method.

With the Cornell note-taking method, you divide the page into three sections:

  • Notes and thoughts
  • Questions and takeaways
  • Summary

You can also add the title at the top. This method works best for linear learners.

cornell notes

Image via Cornell University

The mind-mapping method involves creating a graphic representation of ideas, thoughts and discussions. It’s helpful for non-linear and visual learners. It can also help collate insights from several meetings to identify common ideas and themes.

Mind mapping

Image via The University of Auckland

Best practices for productive meeting notes

Effective meeting notes help move conversations and projects forward. Try these meeting note-taking best practices:

  • Note only the most relevant meeting details rather than capturing every word
  • Prepare pre-meeting notes to prioritize the most critical discussion items
  • Use a meeting-notes outline template that’s easy to understand
  • Use emoji judiciously as shorthand
  • Leverage collaborative note-taking with productivity platforms like Slack (more on that in a bit)
  • Include action items and assign them to owners with clear deadlines

Digital tools and templates for business meeting notes

Meeting note templates for clarity and consistency

Meeting-note templates establish a clear structure for capturing critical action items and takeaways. Using consistent templates makes it easier for stakeholders to quickly identify and interpret relevant points and act on them.

You’ll find several customizable meeting-note templates online. Choose ones that match your organization’s preferences, objectives and note-taking techniques.

Here’s a simple meeting-note template to give you an idea:

Meeting template

Record and transcribe meetings

Manually writing meeting notes in real time can be cumbersome, and it’s easy to miss major points. With meeting recordings and transcripts, you have an automatic record, and you can review the conversation as much as you need.

For in-person meetings, you can use audio-recording apps on smartphones or set up a video camera and mic. And online meeting tools like Slack huddles can easily record virtual meetings.

If you don’t need a visual component, transcript tools like Otter.ai automatically generate transcripts from audio recordings, making note-taking a breeze.
Use AI to generate meeting notes faster
You can streamline your meeting notes process even further with AI-powered tools like Fireflies.ai, Huddl.ai and Otter.ai. Their AI meeting assistants can automatically generate meeting notes and capture action items. If they’re connected through Slack, you can efficiently share notes in relevant channels for faster post-meeting collaboration.

Collaborative note-taking and integration with Slack

If each attendee creates their own set of notes and doesn’t share them, they don’t hold much value. The real power of effective meeting notes lies in their collaborative nature.

Slack canvas lets you create and share virtual meeting notes. You can log key takeaways and add a checklist of action items right from a huddle. For quick context or action, you can also link directly to resources in Google Drive folders or Slack channels.

Canvas

Slack canvas lets you create action items and assign stakeholders.

Share meeting notes

Besides capturing and editing meeting notes, Slack also lets you share them in channels and threads. You control who can see and edit these notes, minimizing the risk of unauthorized access to sensitive information.

Automate meeting note-taking

With Slack’s extensive suite of third-party integrations, you can also automate the process of creating and sharing meeting notes.

With the Fireflies.ai integration, you can generate automated meeting notes with action items, insights, questions and takeaways. Similarly, the Otter.ai integration lets you automatically share meeting summaries in the right Slack channels.

Create effective meeting notes

Meeting notes that spur collaboration are indispensable to making the most of team meetups and discussions. Slack offers practical built-in tools like canvas and third-party integrations to streamline the note-taking process.

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