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Meeting Tips

How to Craft Effective Meeting Reports: A Comprehensive Guide

Published
November 24, 2023
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5
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Last updated
January 5, 2024
Jenna Pitkälä
How to Craft Effective Meeting Reports: A Comprehensive Guide
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Have you ever felt like you'd need a meeting just to remember what was discussed in previous meetings?

To keep up with countless work meetings and insights gathered from them, we can't rely solely on memory. That's what meeting reports are invented for!

But what exactly is a meeting report, and why is it so crucial? More importantly, how can one easily craft an effective report that resonates with its readers?

In this blog, we'll delve into...

  1. What is a Meeting Report?
  2. Tips for Crafting an Effective Meeting Report
  3. What to Actually Include in a Meeting Report

Whether you're a seasoned professional or just starting out, there's something here for everyone.

What is a Meeting Report?

A meeting report is more than just a simple summary of what transpired in a gathering. At its essence, it's a comprehensive business document capturing:

  • Key developments from the meeting
  • Crucial decisions made
  • Action items assigned

Unlike meeting minutes, which have a more formal tone and can even be considered a legal document, a meeting report offers a more relaxed structure. While both serve the purpose of recording the essential parts of the discussions, the report tends to be more approachable and easy to digest.

For instance, imagine a team discussing the launch of a new product in the conference room. The meeting report would not go into every nitty-gritty detail but instead spotlight:

  • The primary features of the product
  • The proposed launch date
  • Significant concerns or suggestions from the attendees

The inherent flexibility of a meeting report allows it to be tailored to various scenarios, whether it's a formal board meeting, a brainstorming session, or even a quick team catch-up. The overarching aim? To ensure that both those who could attend and those who weren't it the meeting are on the same page, maintaining a unified understanding of the discussed topics and decisions.

Meeting reports don’t just serve as a snapshot of what happened. They act as tools to boost meeting productivity, helping teams monitor progress, pinpoint areas requiring additional discussion, and guarantee alignment with the main objectives.

The Importance of Meeting Reports

These days decisions in companies are made quickly and teams often work remotely, so the significance of meeting reports cannot be overstated. These reports play a pivotal role in ensuring clear communication, fostering transparency, and promoting informed decision-making. Here's why they're indispensable:

Communication: Meeting summaries serve as a bridge between what was discussed in the meeting and those who need to be informed, whether they attended the gathering or not. By providing a clear and concise summary, these reports ensure that everyone, from stakeholders to team members, is kept in the loop about key developments and decisions.

Decision-making: A well-documented report helps in tracing back to the rationale behind specific decisions. This is especially useful when there's a need to revisit decisions or when new team members join and need to understand the context behind past choices.

Monitoring Progress: With clearly defined action items and responsibilities, the reports in question enable teams to track the progress of tasks and projects. They serve as a reference point, helping teams determine what was addressed, what remains, and the next steps to be taken.

Accountability: By documenting who is responsible for what, meeting reports foster a sense of accountability. Team members know their tasks, and managers can ensure that the team is progressing as planned.

Historical Record: Over time, these reports become a valuable archive of what was discussed, decided, and implemented. This historical record can be beneficial for training new employees, reviewing past decisions, and setting future strategies.

Tips for Crafting an Effective Meeting Report

To ensure your meeting report is both informative and user-friendly, consider these essential strategies:

Tools and Technology

1. Automated note-taking:

To make your report building process much faster, wouldn't it be cool if you could just copy paste ready-made notes from the meeting? All you'd have to do is some minor categorization of the notes (e.g. into agenda items discussed, decisions made, other notes, etc.) and adding minor details like date and attendees.

Well, believe it or not, it is possible. You won't have to ever focus on writing notes during meetings again.

Here's where tools like Wudpecker come into play. It...

  • Automatically joins and records your meetings, so there's no repeated setup
  • Summarizes the whole online meeting's discussions and action items for you (Note: if you're not meeting online, you can still set up a recording system in your physical room)
  • Takes about max 10 minutes after the meeting to give you the summary
  • Is compatible with Google Meet, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams
  • Keeps record of any previous meeting where Wudpecker was a participant.
  • Allows multiple people to have their own Wudpecker recorder in the meeting at the same time and receive their own notes in their account afterward
  • Lets you share the notes to other people
Wudpecker's automatically generated meeting notes, including TL;DR, Summary and Action Items
A simplified example of what Wudpecker's meeting notes can look like.

2. Ready-made report templates

Having ready-made meeting notes is great, but imagine also having a ready-made, good looking template to paste the notes on and fill in other information about the meeting. How much easier can this get?

There are plenty of services out there that provide templates or examples for reports.

If you want a card-based system to organize meeting reports in a visual manner, Trello is a good choice.

For a more traditional document-based approach with collaboration features, Google Docs or Google Sheets is suitable.

If you're looking to create visually appealing meeting reports with design elements, Canva would be the way to go.

Style and Tone of Writing

  • Be Concise: Focus on main points and decisions for clarity and quick reference.
  • Stay Neutral: Aim to present facts, not opinions, especially when documenting discussions or disagreements.

Structure and Formatting

  • Use Bullet Points and Lists: Organizing information into bullet points or lists, like we're doing here, makes the report more scannable and digestible. This format is particularly useful when listing action items or key points from the discussion.
  • Stay Consistent: Even though meeting content may vary, maintaining a consistent report format aids readability.

Content Quality

  • Prioritize Clarity and Accuracy: While it's essential to be concise, never compromise on the clarity or accuracy of the information. Ensure that the content is easily understandable and free from ambiguities.
  • Review and Revise: Before finalizing, take a moment to review the report. Check for clarity, accuracy, and ensure that all agenda items have been addressed.
  • Seek Feedback: Especially when you're new to crafting meeting reports, it can be beneficial to get feedback from a colleague or team member. This can help improve the quality and effectiveness of future reports.

What to Actually Include in a Meeting Report

A well-constructed meeting report ensures that information is relayed accurately and comprehensively. Here are the essential elements that should be present in any effective report:

  1. Date and Time: Pinpointing when the meeting took place provides context and helps in organizing reports chronologically.
  2. Attendance: A list of participants shows who contributed to the discussions, while also noting who was absent, ensuring that those not present can catch up on what they missed.
  3. Agenda Items: Outlining the main topics of discussion gives readers a roadmap of the report's content and the flow of the meeting.
  4. Decisions Made: This is the crux of the report. By clearly stating what decisions were arrived at, readers can quickly grasp the outcomes of the meeting.
  5. Action Items and Responsibilities: Breaking down the tasks that emerged from the meeting and specifying who's in charge of each offers clarity on the next steps and ensures accountability.
  6. Deadlines: For any action items, it's crucial to mention when they are expected to be completed. This aids in tracking progress and ensuring timely execution.
  7. Remarks or Observations: Any additional information, feedback, or points of interest from the conversation that didn't fit into the above categories can be mentioned here. This section provides room for any nuances or subtleties that emerged during the discussion.

+ Visual Components (optional): Integrating visual elements such as charts, icons, or infographics can make the report more engaging and easier to digest. Especially when dealing with data or progress tracking, visual representations can offer at-a-glance insights, making the report more effective. Borrowing inspiration from platforms like Venngage, these visual components can be tailored to fit the needs of the meeting and the preferences of the audience.

Example of a meeting report template, including date, attendance, agenda points discussed, decisions made, action items & deadline, and other remarks.
Example of a meeting report sample.

Incorporating these components helps in creating a comprehensive and easy-to-understand report, ensuring that readers, whether they attended the meeting or not, have a clear picture of what happened and what's expected moving forward.

Conclusion

Crafting an effective meeting report is more than just a documentation task; it's an art that ensures clear communication, fosters transparency, and aids in decision-making.

By understanding its importance, incorporating key components, and following best practices, you can create documents that resonate with readers and truly capture the essence of every meeting.

As meetings continue to be a cornerstone of business communication, having the skills to document them effectively will remain invaluable. After all, none of us want time spent in meetings go to waste by letting insights from them disappear.

FAQs

How do you write a meeting report?

  1. Start by noting the date, time, and attendees.
  2. Write down the main topics discussed (agenda items).
  3. Highlight key decisions made.
  4. List action items, responsibilities, deadlines, and any additional remarks.
  5. Use digital tools for drafting and sharing.
  6. Review and revise for clarity and accuracy.

What do you call a meeting report?

It's often referred to as "meeting notes" or "meeting summaries."

What is the difference between meeting minutes and meeting report?

Meeting Minutes: A formal and structured documentation, can also be used as a legal record, capturing detailed discussions and decisions.

Meeting Report: A more relaxed and user-friendly summary, focusing on main points and decisions, making it easier to digest and understand.

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How to Craft Effective Meeting Reports: A Comprehensive Guide
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