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Traditional Approaches to Meeting Summaries Don't Work Anymore

November 24, 2023
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November 24, 2023
Hai Ta
Traditional Approaches to Meeting Summaries Don't Work Anymore
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If you've ever had to read through meeting summaries, you know how essential they are in the business world. They capture key information, highlight decisions, and help attendees remember what was discussed. However, traditional approaches to meeting summaries often fall short of providing real value. Here's why.

Lack of Context

The Complexity of Context

Meeting summaries are like movie scenes. Individually, they may contain valuable information, but without the context of the preceding and following scenes, their full meaning and significance can be lost. Trying to grasp the big picture from isolated summaries is akin to watching a movie by only viewing a few randomly-selected scenes - the overall story becomes hard to comprehend.

The Missing Puzzle Pieces

Consider the case of a project manager who has received a series of emails discussing the new feature changes on a product that their team is working on. However, due to a busy schedule, they missed the initial emails where a key decision was made to pivot the feature direction based on a new market trend.

Misinterpretation and Miscommunication

The project manager, not having the full context, interprets the subsequent emails under the assumption that the changes are based on the original direction. They don't realize there's been a shift in strategy, and as a result, they misunderstand the entire thread of conversation.

Consequences of a Lack of Context

The project manager then communicates with their team based on this incorrect understanding. The team makes decisions and progresses with the project based on the project manager's misinterpretation. When the error is finally noticed, it leads to confusion, delays, rework, and miscommunication among team members. All because a crucial piece of information was missed in the email thread.


The Burden of Time

Meetings are an essential part of business, but they can be time-consuming. And it's not just the meetings themselves that eat into our work hours. The task of reviewing meeting summaries can also be a significant burden, especially when you have multiple meetings every week. And summaries are supposed to save time! Ironic, isn't it?

Breaking Down the Time Spent

Consider the numbers: According to a survey conducted by Atlassian, the average employee spends over 31 hours per month in meetings.

Assume you have 10 one-hour meetings every week, each producing a one-page summary. If you spend an average of two minutes per page, that's 10 minutes per summary, adding up to 100 minutes per week.

Then, you have to find and organize those summaries, which can easily take another 10 minutes per week.

Add it up, and you're looking at almost two hours every week. Over a month, that's close to eight hours – an entire workday!

The Hidden Cost of Summaries

But it's not just the actual time spent that's a concern. There's also the mental fatigue that comes from processing so much information at once. Imagine you've just come out of a long, intense meeting, and you immediately have to dive into a summary of another equally intense meeting. It's like finishing a marathon and then being told you have to run another one right away. Your brain is tired, and it becomes harder to focus and absorb information.

The Impact of Mental Fatigue

This mental fatigue can have serious consequences. It might lead to you missing crucial details in the summary, which could result in incorrect assumptions and miscommunication. Or you might decide to skip reading the summary altogether, leaving you out of the loop and potentially leading to poor decision-making.

Confusion and Miscommunication

Navigating a Sea of Summaries

Traditional meeting summaries, while essential, often become a breeding ground for confusion and miscommunication. Piecing together information from a series of summaries is not always straightforward. Without a clear and consistent narrative, these summaries can leave readers with a fractured understanding of the topic.

Message Gets Lost

Let's imagine a real-life scenario: A marketing team holds a series of meetings to discuss the launch strategy for a new product. In the first meeting, they discuss focusing on organic social media marketing. In the second, they talk about incorporating influencer partnerships. By the third meeting, the emphasis has shifted to paid advertising campaigns. Each of these meetings produces a separate summary.

A team member who couldn't attend all the meetings relies on these summaries to catch up. Reading the first summary, they understand the need for organic social media efforts. The second summary briefly touches on influencer partnerships but doesn't mention the previous emphasis on organic methods. The third summary focuses largely on paid advertising but only mentions influencers in passing.

Trying to form a cohesive strategy from these disjointed summaries, the team member might incorrectly assume that organic efforts are no longer a priority and that influencer partnerships were just a fleeting idea.

Misunderstandings Have A Domino Effect

This misinterpretation can set off a chain reaction. The team member might allocate resources away from organic social media efforts, potentially compromising the campaign's success.

They might also overlook the importance of influencer partnerships, missing out on valuable collaboration opportunities. All because the narrative was fragmented across multiple summaries.

The Need for a Better Approach

As businesses grow and the number of meetings increases, there's a need for a more efficient and comprehensive way to summarize meetings. We need a method that captures the full context of discussions, eliminates confusion, and saves time.


Traditional meeting summaries have their limitations. They often lack context, can be time-consuming to read, and can lead to confusion and miscommunication.

As the business world evolves, we need a more effective approach to summarizing meetings. Stay tuned as we explore the solution that Rundowns provide in our upcoming blog posts.

If you're tired of the confusion and miscommunication that come with traditional meeting summaries, stay tuned for Wudpecker’s upcoming releases!

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Traditional Approaches to Meeting Summaries Don't Work Anymore
Min Read
Traditional Approaches to Meeting Summaries Don't Work Anymore
Min Read
Traditional Approaches to Meeting Summaries Don't Work Anymore
Min Read