In this ‘new normal’ due to the worldwide pandemic COVID-19, almost everyone is working remotely and routinely attending board meetings, management meetings, and brainstorming sessions virtually. Certainly, technology makes organizing and running of virtual meetings easy but taking minutes in a virtual meeting remains challenging. Taking detailed and clear minutes of a meeting (MOM) under normal circumstances can be tricky, but doing so in a virtual set up is more of a challenge.
Before we begin to understand how to take minutes of a virtual meeting without missing out on important details, it is important to know exactly what are meeting minutes and how they are different from meeting notes.
Must Read: Tips for Better Virtual Meetings in 2020
What Are Meeting Notes?
Meeting notes are the informal version of meeting minutes. They are written quickly in a short format to record ideas, important dates, decisions, etc. They can later be converted into formal meeting minutes.
What Are Meeting Minutes?
Meeting minutes are a written record of any important meeting. It is a formally written legal document that highlights the key issues of a meeting like attendees, agenda, deadlines, topics discussed, motions proposed, decisions, plans, etc. It is highly important to write meeting minutes in detail with clarity and consistency of tone.
What To Include In Meeting Minutes?
It is advisable to follow a single template while taking meeting minutes so that you can maintain the same format in upcoming meetings. If you follow this pattern, you can always refer to a template of a former meeting to ensure you have included all the necessary items. For effective meeting minutes, you should include the following in the template.
- Date and time
- Name of the attendees
- Agenda of the meeting
- Tasks discussed
- Decisions made by the attendees
- Important dates and deadlines
- Future action plan
- Reference files (images, documents)
- The proposed date for the next meeting
- Concluding remarks
How To Take Effective Virtual Meeting Minutes?
Here are some tips you should keep in mind while taking virtual meeting minutes. The tips include all the specifics required before the meeting, during the meeting, and after the meeting.
Use the most appropriate virtual meeting format
Virtual meeting platforms like Skype, Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams are preferable for virtual meetings as they allow all participants to be seen and heard at the same time. Depending upon personal preferences and as per the necessity, each participant can switch the microphone/camera on and off easily without any disturbances. However, it is advisable to do a trial run ten minutes before the meeting to ensure everyone can access the meeting link and are heard/visible properly.
Know the number of participants
This is an important pre-meeting preparation to ensure the smooth running of the meeting. If you know who is expected to attend the session, you can fill the section in the template before the meeting and also inform other attendees. If not, once the meeting begins, you can quickly scan the chat room and make a note of who has joined.
You will also be required to make a note of who leaves the meeting in the middle to be able to note it in the meeting minutes. To make things easier, you can make it a requirement for everybody to announce their joining and leaving of the virtual meeting room.
Set an online screen recorder.
Online meeting platforms like Google Meets and Skype do not have a screen recording option, but you can always download a recording software easily available online to do the same. Online meeting records will allow you to refer back to the meeting points in case you miss writing anything during the meeting. It will also help you clear any discrepancies or confusion which might occur later.
However, make sure all the attendees of the meeting are aware of the meeting being recorded. You can also create a section in the meeting minutes template stating that the meeting was recorded for documentation purposes.
Do not be hesitant to interrupt
There is a high probability of you not being able to hear what someone is saying due to technical issues, signal issues, low volume, or other disturbances. If you cannot hear them, the probability is that others cannot hear them either. Do not be afraid to ask the participants to speak loudly, adjust the microphone, or repeat what they just said.
Being afraid to interrupt might compromise with the quality of your meeting minutes. The inaudible person might be making a noteworthy point like an important date, the requirement to place an urgent order, etc.
Take a break
Continuous screen time can easily affect your focusing capacities or give you a headache. If the meeting is stretching too long, do not hesitate to ask for a comfort break. Use the break to relax by closing your eyes and lying down for a minute or two.
Use the meeting papers
The majority of the time, important meeting papers are submitted ahead of the meeting to familiarize all the attendees with the agenda of the meeting. For a virtual meeting also, the papers must be emailed to everybody, including you. Go through the meeting papers carefully and use them to make your meeting minutes accurate and effective.
Additionally, the meeting papers will also allow you to double-check the spellings you are doubtful about like some technical terms, attendees’ full names, etc.
Sharing the meeting minutes
Lastly, it is a standard procedure to share the minutes of the meeting with the chair of the meeting. Before forwarding the final draft, you can circulate it amongst the other participants to get feedback and ensure no important point has been missed. If you are afraid your colleagues are too busy to read the entire draft, you can make a small video email summarizing all the important points you have included in the meeting minutes.
Being an expert in taking meeting minutes requires patience, willingness to listen, fast notetaking skills, and lastly, practice. The current scenario of virtual meetings and working remotely makes the task more difficult but do not lose hope. Follow the above-mentioned tips carefully, practice regularly, and you will soon become an expert.