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Best Way to Organize Meeting Notes: 5 Tips

Published
November 26, 2023
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6
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Updated
December 7, 2023
Jenna Pitkälä
Best Way to Organize Meeting Notes: 5 Tips
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Having a lot of meetings? Thinking about the best ways to retain information from them without it taking too much time?

You've come to the right place, as we delve into these tips for note management:

  1. Delegate Note Taking to One Person
  2. Prioritize and Symbolize
  3. Have All Notes in One Place
  4. Start Meetings With an Agenda and End With a Recap
  5. Share Notes Soon After the Meeting

Five Tips for How to Organize Meeting Notes Better

Effective meeting notes serve as a reliable reference that can keep all team members on the same page and provide a clear record of key decisions and action items. Centralizing this process not only streamlines the flow of information but also ensures that nothing important falls through the cracks. Here are some strategies to organize meeting notes:

(1) Delegate Note Taking to One Person

Why should only one person take notes for everyone? If they have a different writing style than others, wouldn't it just create more confusion if others can't understand what they're reading?

Here's why it's a good idea to delegate the task to only one person at a time:

  • There's More Consistency: A single note taker ensures that all meeting attendees receive the same information, preventing discrepancies in understanding or recollection.
  • It Saves Resources: When one person captures the meeting minutes, it eliminates the redundancy of multiple people noting down the same points, saving time and effort for the entire team.
  • Engagement Is Higher: Participants can focus on the discussion without the distraction of writing notes, leading to more dynamic and involved meetings.

How should you choose the note taker?

  • Find Someone Skilled: Choose someone with strong listening and synthesis skills who can distill complex discussions into clear, actionable tasks. Optimally, they would also have a high typing speed and be able to organize thoughts into structured points.
  • They Should Be Familiar with the Subject Matter: It helps if the note taker has a good grasp of the topics being discussed to capture the nuances of the meeting.
  • Consider Rotating the Role: Consider whether rotating the role or keeping a consistent note taker is best for your team. Rotation can spread the workload, but consistency offers uniformity in note-taking style and method.

We have to address the challenge that the note taker might face: reduced capability to be a part of the conversation. That's why rotating the role might be beneficial, even if other employees are not as great at note taking. You might also want to assign someone who's not a crucial part of the conversation so they don't feel left out.

(The easiest way to get rid of this problem is to use an AI note taking tool, so you don't need any person for it. Read more about how this is possible with Wudpecker below.)

(2) Prioritize and Symbolize

Effective meeting notes are not just about what you write down, but also about how you organize the content. Here are some ideas:

  • Use Symbols: Integrate symbols like asterisks (*) for action items, question marks (?) for queries, and exclamation points (!) for urgent matters. Emojis are also a great option. This visual shorthand helps in quickly identifying the nature of the note.
  • Color Code: Assign colors to different categories, such as blue for information, green for decisions, and red for follow-ups, making the notes visually intuitive.
  • Highlight Priorities: Bold or underline key decisions and action points to draw attention to them. Prioritize items by their importance or due date.

Consistent application of these principles ensures:

  • You'll Find Information Quickly: Symbols and colors act as signposts, guiding readers to the most relevant information without having to sift through all the text.
  • People Will Understand the Notes Better: When everyone understands the symbolism, any team member can pick up the notes and grasp the key points and priorities instantly.
  • Following Up Will Be Easier: Highlighted action items and questions stand out for easy compilation into a to-do list or agenda for the next meeting.

To maintain this efficiency, it’s essential to establish a set of rules for the note layout that all team members and note takers agree upon.

Whether it's a note taking template you always use or a standard note taking outline that is followed, consistency is key. This way changing the note taker won't be too detrimental to the quality of notes.

(3) Have All Notes in One Place

Centralizing all meeting notes in a single, accessible location is a game-changer for keeping your team aligned and informed. Here's how you can achieve this and why it's crucial:

  • Choose a Central Platform: Utilize a digital tool like Google Drive, Microsoft Teams, or project management software to store all notes. This ensures everyone accesses the same version of the notes.
  • Organize by Date and Project: Categorize the notes based on the date or specific project they belong to. This aids in quick retrieval and reference.
  • Accessibility for All: Make sure that every team member has access to this central repository. Adjust settings to allow for viewing, editing, or commenting as needed.

The benefits of this approach include:

  • No More Lost Notes: With all notes in one place, you reduce the risk of misplacing or losing important information.
  • Seamless Collaboration: Team members can easily collaborate, add comments, or reference past notes, fostering a cohesive work environment.
  • Consistent Information Flow: A central location for notes ensures that everyone is working from the same information, keeping the entire team on the same page.

By diligently storing and organizing your meeting notes in a central place, you not only streamline the process of note management but also ensure that important details are readily available for everyone.

This approach is critical for teams working remotely, where digital organization is key to maintaining seamless communication.

(4) Start Meetings With an Agenda and End With a Recap

In lengthier meetings, the sheer volume of information presented can be overwhelming. The note taker might overlook some comments or have a hard time focusing on the bigger picture.

Kicking off meetings with a clear agenda and wrapping up with a comprehensive recap solidifies the purpose and outcomes of your discussions.

This is a nice way to ensure the note taker jots down all the necessary follow-up tasks and summarizes the most relevant points.

Here’s how to implement this practice effectively, starting with the agenda:

  • Draft a Meeting Agenda: Before the meeting begins, prepare an agenda outlining the main talking points. Distribute this agenda to all attendees in advance to set expectations and allow for preparation.
  • Display Agenda at the Start: As the meeting kicks off, go over the agenda with everyone to ensure everyone is on the same page and prepared to tackle the topics at hand.
  • Take Notes Aligned with Agenda: Structure the meeting notes according to the agenda points. This makes it easier to follow along and ensures all key areas are covered.

For the recap at the end of the meeting:

  • Conduct a Thorough Recap: The leader should systematically revisit each agenda item, summarizing the discussion, conclusions, and any unresolved points.
  • Clarify Action Items: Specifically articulate the tasks that have come out of the meeting, who is tasked with them, and the expected deadlines.
  • Outline the Next Steps: If another meeting is necessary, provide a preview of potential agenda items or issues that need to be addressed, setting a preliminary foundation for the subsequent gathering.

By consistently applying this approach, you can transform your team meetings into more productive sessions where every minute counts. This ensures that important points are not only discussed but also captured and acted upon, which is essential for the note taking process to truly serve its purpose.

(5) Share Notes Soon After the Meeting

The distribution of meeting notes shortly after the session concludes is key to capitalizing on the momentum generated during the meeting. Here’s a streamlined approach:

  • Timely Review and Dispatch: Assign a specific time for the note taker to finalize the notes, ensuring they're comprehensive and clear. Once reviewed, the notes should be sent out promptly.
  • Direct Sharing: Use direct sharing features in note-taking or project management platforms, which allow for immediate sharing of documents once they are saved or updated.
  • Feedback Loop: Encourage recipients to quickly glance over the notes and provide feedback or ask questions, fostering an interactive and dynamic review process.

These steps help maintain the flow of information while allowing for the vital step of reviewing notes to ensure accuracy and completeness before they reach the rest of the team.

Let Wudpecker Handle All of the Above

What if you could cover all the tips above with just one tool?

Well, you absolutely can! With Wudpecker...

  1. You can outsource note taking completely. It joins your meetings, records the conversation, and generates notes (which you can edit later) with AI in under 10 minutes after the meeting.
  2. The notes are easily readable. You can customize which kind of notes you prefer to see. They're not multiple pages long and they come in easily digestible bullet points. They're also neatly organized into different categories and sections.
  3. Notes stay stored in one place. All recordings and transcriptions are stored securely in the cloud without any storage limits. You can search notes by participants or meeting title on Wudpecker.
  4. Mentions the main points of the meeting and provides actionable follow-up items. Especially if you say the agenda and recap out loud during the meeting, the AI notes will be even more optimized.
  5. Automatically sends notes to other attendees. After each meeting, Wudpecker is able to automatically send the meeting notes via email to all the other participants. In addition, you can ask it to automatically forward the notes to you on Slack or to a specific Notion link. You can, of course, tweak these in your settings any time.

Here's more information on how Wudpecker works.

Conclusion

Great meeting notes can set a foundation for clearer communication and less hassle with information management.

With our tips, you should be good to go.

No more situations where a manager has to repeat themselves because an employee 'forgot' the specifics of their task, or awkward moments in update meetings with team members scrambling to remember the details of past discussions.

FAQs

What is the best way to keep track of meeting notes?

The best way to keep track of meeting notes is to centralize them in one easily accessible location. Use a digital platform where notes can be organized by date, project, or team. Ensure that this repository allows for quick searching and retrieval of documents, and is accessible to all relevant team members.

A great example is Wudpecker, which automatically generates meeting notes and keeps them in your account. On Wudpecker, you can search for notes by participants or meeting title, and integrate them with Notion or Slack.

What is the best way to share meeting notes?

The best way to share meeting notes is through a platform that all meeting attendees have access to, such as a shared cloud storage service, a project management system, or a collaborative workspace like Google Docs or Microsoft Teams.

After finalizing the notes, share them directly on the platform or via a link, ensuring that they are shared promptly after the meeting concludes.

What are the best tools to take notes in a meeting?

The best tools for taking notes in a meeting vary depending on your needs, but popular options include digital note-taking apps like Evernote, OneNote, or Notion that offer organization and syncing capabilities across devices. However, if you're opting for automated note taking, Wudpecker is a great choice.

Automatic quality online meeting notes
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Example Meeting Agenda Template

Date: [Insert Date]
Time: [Insert Start Time] - [Insert End Time]
Location: [Specify if it's an in-person or virtual meeting and provide necessary details or links]

Meeting Purpose:
[Clearly articulate the overarching goal or objective of the meeting]

1. Introduction (- min)

  • Welcome and setting the tone.
  • Overview of the meeting purpose and agenda.

2. Agenda Item 1 (- min)

  • [Description or goal of the first agenda item]

3. Agenda Item 2 (- min)

  • [Description or goal of the second agenda item]

[Continue with additional agenda items as necessary]

Conclusion (- min)

  • Summary of key points and decisions.
  • Discussion of next steps or action items.

Notes and Pre-Meeting Reads

  • Include any reminders, announcements, or pre-meeting materials that participants should review.
Best Way to Organize Meeting Notes: 5 Tips
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Best Way to Organize Meeting Notes: 5 Tips
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Best Way to Organize Meeting Notes: 5 Tips
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