As a fellow meeting organizer, I know the struggle is real when it comes to taking proper meeting minutes. It‘s tough to keep up with all the discussions and simultaneously document relevant details.
But comprehensive meeting minutes are a must for executing plans made in meetings. That‘s why I put together this ultimate guide on meeting minutes templates – to help you ace your documentation game!
In this extensive guide, I‘ll share:
- A deep dive into what meeting minutes are all about
- An analysis of why good minutes are crucial
- 9 amazing pre-built templates to make your job easier
- Insider tips to record minutes like a pro
I‘ll also infuse insights from my decade of experience managing meetings as a project manager. My goal is to provide lots of value to help you take your meetings to the next level. Sound good? Let‘s get started!
What Exactly Are Meeting Minutes?
Before we get into meeting minute templates, let‘s make sure we have a solid grasp of what meeting minutes actually are.
Meeting minutes are documented notes that record the key discussions, decisions, and action items from a meeting.
Instead of trying to capture a word-for-word transcript, minutes focus on writing down critical details like:
- The reason for the meeting
- Topics covered
- Problems or issues highlighted
- Solutions proposed
- Decisions agreed on
- Actions items assigned
- Next steps planned
Meeting minutes serve as the paper trail of your meeting – a documented account of the vital outcomes.
Now let‘s analyze why well-crafted minutes are invaluable.
Why Are Good Meeting Minutes So Important?
You‘re probably wondering, "With our busy schedules, is detailed documentation of meetings really necessary?"
The answer is a resounding yes! Solid meeting minutes are crucial for a number of reasons.
Keep Everyone on the Same Page
Well-documented meeting minutes help keep everyone aligned on priorities by providing an overview of the discussions.
Team members who miss the meeting can get up to speed by reading the minutes. This prevents miscommunications from festering.
A 2012 Atlassian survey found that employees spend 2.1 hours per week clarifying unclear communications, costing businesses billions annually. Complete meeting minutes help minimize this.
Drive Accountability on Agreed Actions
By clearly listing down the action items along with owners and deadlines, minutes create accountability.
Team members own their responsibilities and are motivated to deliver on time. Without properly recorded minutes, it‘s easy for action items to fall through the cracks.
Research by Forbes found team accountability leads to:
- 28% greater accuracy of work
- 30% increase in engagement levels
- 25% less time wasted in meetings
Provide Legal Documentation
For public companies and organizations, well-documented minutes also serve as formal legal records of meetings.
Certain sensitive subjects like financial results or mergers and acquisitions need minutes for compliance. These records can hold up in court cases if required.
Accurate minutes help enhance productivity before, during, and after meetings.
Beforehand, they allow participants to prepare for the discussion and jot down their thoughts according to the agenda.
During the meeting, pre-defined sections in a template keep the discussions focused and on-track.
Afterward, proper documentation prevents wasted time clarifying next steps and responsibilities.
Improve Future Meetings
Meeting minutes create institutional memory – they enable organizations to learn from the past.
By reviewing previous minutes before a recurring meeting, organizers can identify areas for improvement and adjustments in the agenda.
Now that we‘ve explored the importance, let‘s get into some excellent meeting minutes templates to make your job much easier.
9 Handy Meeting Minutes Templates
Taking minutes from scratch each time is neither efficient nor practical. Instead, make use of pre-built templates designed specifically for meeting minutes.
Here are 9 awesome options to try:
Smartsheet has some of the most professional looking and easily customizable minutes templates.
Some notable templates include:
Basic Meeting Minutes: Perfect for routine team gatherings. Includes sections for key details like decisions and action items.
Team Status Update: Track progress across multiple projects with this template. Summarize status, issues, risks, and next steps by project.
Team Weekly Review: Recap team accomplishments and plans at a quick weekly touchpoint meeting.
I appreciate how Smartsheet‘s templates are cleanly formatted and totally brandable. You can easily insert your company logo, colors, and fonts to maintain visual consistency.
If your organization heavily relies on meetings to collaborate, I‘d recommend exploring Smartsheet‘s premium work execution platform with additional advanced features. But the free templates are fantastic in their own right.
ClickUp‘s meeting minutes template offers a visually pleasing table for rapid logging of details before, during, and after meetings.
ClickUp really focuses on ease of use – the template is conveniently broken down into clear sections:
- Meeting info like date, time, and attendees
- Agenda items
- Discussion highlights
- Follow-ups including decisions and tasks
- Next steps
Helpful instructional text provides guidance on effectively using the template.
Plus, ClickUp seamlessly integrates the template with its wider range of collaboration tools for tasks, docs, spreadsheets, and reminders.
3. Microsoft Word
For Microsoft Word users, built-in meeting minutes templates are convenient for quickly recording details during meetings.
Handy templates like Classic Meeting Minutes and Modern Meeting Minutes come pre-formatted with sections for adding key meeting information.
These templates are super easy to access – simply open a new Word document and select the Meeting Minutes category under New from Template.
Once created, the agenda, attendee list, and other sections can be fully customized to your requirements.
I‘m a big fan of Evernote‘s Meeting Notes template. It‘s one of the simplest and most intuitive templates out there.
Evernote‘s template is structured into quick sections and checklists covering all the basics:
- Meeting purpose
- Date, time, location
- Discussion notes
- Action items
This clean one-page template makes it easy to enter details during the meeting. And it‘s easy to save directly into your Evernote account for quick reference later.
Evernote offers excellent cross-platform apps so the minutes can be referenced from anywhere.
If you like a little design flair, Canva‘s visually stunning meeting minutes templates are just the ticket.
Canva offers professionally designed, customizable templates in various styles:
- Classic Monochrome Meeting Minutes
- Vibrant Modern Meeting Minutes
- Art Deco Meeting Minutes
- Hand-drawn Meeting Minutes
Once you select your favorite, easily add your own brand elements like logos, colors, and typography.
Sections prompt you to enter details on attendees, agenda, discussions, decisions, and next steps.
I also like how Canva templates make it easy to visualize agenda topics, goal progress, and project timelines.
6. Atlassian Confluence
Atlassian Confluence has some of the handiest templates tailored specifically for agile software teams.
Two of their most useful templates include:
Team Meeting: Collaborate on meeting minutes real-time with multiple note-takers. Great for agile standups.
Sprint Retrospective: Lookback template to document what worked and didn‘t after a sprint.
Confluence offers deep integration with Jira project management and Trello boards used by software teams. Templates can pull data like ticket statuses and comments.
Content is easily searchable thanks to built-in OCR capabilities. The templates are highly customizable, allowing you to match your team‘s processes.
Although designed for software teams, Confluence can suit the needs of many types of teams with its powerful content collaboration features.
For straightforward meeting documentation, ProjectManager‘s free template hits all the key points.
This Word doc template covers all essentials:
- Meeting name, date, location
- Attendees and absentees
- Agenda creation
- Meeting discussions
- Decisions made
- Action items
I like how the summary section prompts you to log key details that are easy to refer back to.
Although ProjectManager offers premium plans, the free Word template works nicely on its own for basic meeting needs.
If you like visual boards and organization, Monday.com‘s Meeting Minutes template helps arrange details neatly in columns.
The board-style template structures information into columns like:
- Meeting Title
- Agenda Items
- Main Points Discussed
- Action Items
Key details are displayed concisely card-by-card down each column, making this template easy to scan.
Monday.com offers slick integrations like converting agenda topics into task rows. The premium plans unlock more features like automations and analytics – quite useful for recurring meetings.
If you need a straightforward form-style meeting minutes template, Jotform offers a free printable PDF.
Sections of the Jotform template include:
- Meeting name and date
- Location, purpose, and attendees
- Agenda items
- Action items
- Other business
While not as fully featured as Smartsheet or Monday.com, sometimes a simple fillable PDF is all your team needs.
The template can be downloaded, printed out, and filled in by hand during meetings. Once completed, the minutes can be scanned to share digitally with the team.
Expert Tips for Recording Meeting Minutes
Now that you‘ve got some excellent templates to work from, let‘s get into some insider best practices I‘ve picked up for recording effective minutes.
Follow these tips and you‘ll quickly level up your minute-taking skills:
Strategically Take Notes
Don‘t try to frantically write down everything that‘s said – it‘s impossible and not useful.
Focus only on documenting the key points, decisions, and action items. Leave out fluff and tangents.
Get good at listening intently to conversations and distilling the core essence of what‘s important to write down.
Participate Fully in Discussions
Taking minutes doesn‘t mean you sit silently.
Share your perspective during discussions when appropriate. Your contributions provide value just like other attendees.
Wait for good opportunities to add your voice rather than constantly scribbling.
Review Past Minutes and Agendas
Get into the habit of re-reading past minutes and agendas before recurring meetings.
This helps jog your memory on past discussions and action items. You‘ll have helpful context heading into the discussions.
Use Abbreviations and Symbols
Develop shorthand like abbreviations and symbols to take notes faster.
For example, use => for "led to", Δ for "change", and ✔ to mark completed items.
Highlight Important Points and Decisions
Use highlighting, bolding, or text coloring to emphasize important stuff like decisions and actions.
This helps key points stand out when reviewing the minutes later.
Be Clear and Concise
Don‘t use long-winded sentences when summarizing points.
Be brief, clear, and direct. Remove unnecessary words. Stick to main ideas.
Clarify Next Steps
Before wrapping up, verify with attendees all next steps, owners, and deadlines.
Ensure there‘s no confusion on action items and follow-ups before folks disperse.
Carefully Proofread Before Sharing
Before sending your minutes, carefully proofread them to catch any typos, grammar issues, or inaccuracies.
Double check decisions and action items closely to ensure every detail is correct.
Share Minutes Promptly
Ideally, compile and send the minutes to stakeholders within 24 hours after the meeting when it‘s still fresh.
Prompt delivery reinforces decisions made and pushes execution of next steps while they‘re top of mind.
Continue Your Meeting Minutes Winning Streak!
There you have it, friend! You‘re now fully armed with excellent templates and expert advice to start recording meeting minutes like a boss.
I hope you found this guide helpful and walk away more knowledgeable and confident. Don‘t let taking minutes bog you down or become an afterthought.
With preparation and practice, you can master meeting documentation. And that will lead to more productive, collaborative teams!
Now I‘d love to hear your thoughts:
- Which template resonates most with your meeting needs and style?
- Do you have any other minute-taking best practices to share?
Let me know in the comments! I read every one. Enjoy your upcoming meetings!