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Ultimate Guide to How to Take Good Meeting Notes

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What’s the big deal about taking good meeting notes? Aren’t they just a written record of what happens in a meeting? Yes, but they are so much more than that.

The truth is, having solid notes from your company meetings - or any meeting for that matter - will help you remember key points, decisions, and action items. Learning how to take good meeting notes will make your projects more likely to succeed, and are incredibly valuable to your team.

That’s why we put together this guide for you. We want to share the inside scoop about everything you need to know about meeting notes - from preparing before the meeting to different methods for taking notes during the meeting. Sound good? Keep reading to become a meeting notes expert!

meeting notes definition

What are Meeting Notes?

Just like it sounds, meeting notes are written records that capture what was discussed during a meeting (i.e. the key points, decisions, and action items). They serve as a valuable reference for attendees and those unable to attend.

Unlike meeting minutes, meeting notes are less formal. Meeting minutes are typically used in more official settings like board meetings and legal proceedings. They include things such as motions and votes. They might include timestamps, dates, and other pertinent information “on the record.”

Both minutes and meeting notes provide a detailed account of a meeting, however. While meeting notes might also mention motions or votes, their primary focus is on the most important information and takeaways.

How to Prepare for Writing Meeting Notes

Preparing for a meeting is crucial for taking effective notes. Before the meeting, review the agenda to familiarize yourself with the topics to be discussed. This will help you understand the meeting's structure and main objectives. If no agenda is provided, ask the meeting organizer for one or create your own based on the meeting invite. Proper preparation allows you to anticipate important points and organize your notes accordingly.

Required Tools for Taking Meeting Notes

When it comes to taking meeting notes, you can choose between traditional tools like pen and paper or digital tools like laptops, tablets, or note-taking apps. Traditional tools offer simplicity and fewer distractions, while digital tools provide the advantage of easy organization, searching, and sharing. Some popular digital note-taking tools include Evernote, OneNote, and Google Docs. Experiment with different tools to find what works best for you.

Pro Tip: Record your meetings with audio and/or video equipment!

Whether your meetings are remote via a tool like Zoom/Google Meet, or in person, having a recording of your meeting makes it easier to fill in any gaps you may miss during the meeting. And, if you use tools like Castmagic, you can actually use AI transcription to generate your meeting notes automatically. But we’ll share more on that later.

Related: Read our post “8 Excellent Applications For How To Use AI In Business.”

Methods of Taking Meeting Notes

There are various methods for taking meeting notes, each with its own advantages:

1. Cornell Method: This method involves dividing your page into three sections: notes, key points, and summary. Write your notes in the largest section, extract key points in the smaller section, and summarize the meeting at the bottom. 

2. Charting Method: Create a table with columns for topics, notes, action items, and responsible parties. This method helps you organize information clearly and identify tasks easily. 

3. Mapping Method: Start with the main topic at the center and branch out with subtopics and details. This visual method helps you see the connections between ideas and is helpful for brainstorming sessions.

Adapt your chosen method based on the type of meeting. For example, the Cornell Method may be more suitable for informational meetings, while the Charting Method is ideal for meetings with many action items.

Picking the Right Method

When selecting a note-taking method, consider factors such as the meeting type, your role in the meeting, and your personal preferences. Some meetings may require more detailed notes, while others may benefit from a more visual approach. Choose a method that allows you to capture important information while actively participating in the meeting.

how to format meeting notes

An Example of How to Format Meeting Notes

An effective meeting notes format should be clear, concise, and easy to scan. Use headings to separate main topics, and bullet points or numbering to list subtopics and details. This makes it easier for readers to find specific information and understand the meeting's flow. Here's an example of a good meeting notes format:

1. Introduction

   - Meeting purpose

   - Attendees

2. Topic 1

   - Key points

   - Decisions made

   - Action items (with responsible parties and deadlines)

3. Topic 2

   - Key points

   - Decisions made

   - Action items (with responsible parties and deadlines)

4. Summary

   - Main takeaways

   - Next steps

How Castmagic Simplifies Writing Meeting Notes

Castmagic is an AI-powered tool that revolutionizes the way you create meeting notes. The platform uses advanced natural language processing and machine learning technologies. As a result, it streamlines the note-taking process, saving you time and effort while ensuring accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

Simply record your meeting in audio or video format and upload the file. From there, Castmagic will automatically transcribe the conversation. This eliminates the need for manual note-taking during the meeting, allowing you to focus fully on the discussion at hand. 

But the fun doesn’t stop there. Castmagic goes beyond simple transcription. It uses intelligent algorithms to analyze the content of your meeting and extract the most important information. It will list out key points, decisions, and action items for you. This means you don't have to sift through a lengthy transcript to find the crucial takeaways. It’s instantly handled for you, and then you can update or add to your meeting notes document as you see fit. 

You can also use Castmagic’s Magic Chat feature to write prompts and create AI generated text from your meeting’s transcript to create content such as:

  • Newsletter copy
  • Social media posts
  • Training guides
  • Quality control reports
  • Web copy, and more

Castmagic's AI-powered features also enable you to generate concise meeting summaries and highlight key insights. This is particularly useful when sharing notes with team members or stakeholders who may not have the time to review all of the meeting notes, let alone a full transcript. The summarization feature distills the most important information into an easily digestible format, making it easy for everyone to stay informed and aligned. 

Learn more about Castmagic’s meeting presets here.

organizing meeting notes

After the Meeting: Sorting and Organizing Your Notes

After the meeting, take some time to review and refine your notes. Summarize the main points, clarify any unclear items, and add any additional thoughts or ideas that come to mind. Make sure to highlight action items and follow up on them promptly. Distribute the notes to all relevant parties as soon as possible to ensure everyone is informed and can act on the discussed items while the meeting is still fresh in their minds. 

Storing and Retrieving Meeting Notes

Organizing your meeting notes is essential for easy retrieval and future reference. Create a consistent filing system, whether it's by date, project, or client. Use clear, descriptive names for your files to make searching easier.  

Consider using a cloud-based storage solution like Google Drive or Dropbox to access your notes from any device and easily share them with others. Regularly review your notes to ensure you're following through on action items and to refresh your memory on important discussions.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Taking Meeting Notes

When taking meeting notes, there are a few common pitfalls to watch out for. 

1. Trying to write down everything verbatim

This can lead to incomplete or disorganized notes. Instead, focus on capturing key points, decisions, and action items. 

2. Being disorganized in the act of taking meeting notes

Make sure to organize your notes effectively using headings, bullet points, or a structured template to ensure clarity and easy reference. 

3. Not being an active listener 

To take effective meeting notes, you need to be an active listener. Minimize distractions by silencing notifications and closing unnecessary tabs on your device. If something is unclear, don't hesitate to ask clarifying questions.  

Pro Tip: Paraphrasing key points can also help you ensure you've understood the information correctly and can serve as a useful summary for your notes.

Collaborating on Meeting Notes with Your Team

Collaboration can greatly improve the quality and comprehensiveness of your meeting notes. Use shared documents or note-taking apps that allow for real-time collaboration. This allows multiple team members to contribute their insights and ideas. 

It’s also a good idea to consider assigning a designated note-taker for each meeting. Doing so can ensure consistent and reliable records. That said, you may find it beneficial to encourage all team members to review and add to the notes after the meeting as well. 

Accessibility and Inclusion Considerations

When creating meeting notes, it's essential to consider accessibility and inclusion. Use clear, concise language that is easy to understand for all participants. 

Provide alternative formats (i.e. audio recordings or summaries) for team members who may have different needs or preferences.  

Ensure that all participants have access to the meeting notes, regardless of their location or device.

Evaluating and Improving Your Note-Taking Skills

Like any skill, taking effective meeting notes requires practice and continuous improvement. 

Regularly review your notes to identify areas where you can be more concise, organized, or comprehensive. 

Seek feedback from colleagues on the usefulness and clarity of your notes, and be open to suggestions for improvement.

Integrating Meeting Notes with Project Management Tools

Integrating your meeting notes with project management tools could be a powerful way to streamline your workflow, ensure important information is acted upon, and keep your team aligned on project progress and priorities. By linking meeting notes to relevant projects or tasks within your project management software, you create a centralized hub for all project-related information and communication.

Here are some tips for effectively integrating your meeting notes with project management tools:

1. Choose a project management tool that supports document integration, such as Trello, Asana, or Monday.com. These tools allow you to easily attach meeting notes to specific projects, tasks, or cards.

2. Create a standardized naming convention for your meeting notes files, including the date, meeting type, and any relevant project or client names. This will make it easier to search for and reference specific notes within your project management tool.

3. When creating tasks or action items based on meeting discussions, include a link to the relevant meeting notes. This provides context for the task and allows team members to refer back to the original discussion if needed.

4. Use your meeting notes to update project timelines, assignments, and priorities. If a meeting reveals new information or decisions that impact the project, make sure to reflect these changes in your project management tool. This keeps everyone on the same page and ensures your project plan stays up to date.

5. Encourage team members to review and comment on meeting notes within the project management tool. This fosters collaboration and allows for a centralized, easily accessible record of project-related discussions and decisions.

6. Regularly review your meeting notes alongside your project tasks and milestones. This will help you identify any actions or follow-ups that may have been missed and ensure your team is staying on track with project goals.

Integrate your meeting notes with project management tools and you can create a seamless connection between your team's discussions and their day-to-day work. As a byproduct, you’ll enhance transparency, accountability, and collaboration. The best part about taking stellar meeting notes and integrating them with project management tools is you’ll have more success in achieving your company’s goals.

How this integration might look in practice

Let’s say your team has a weekly project status meeting. During the meeting, you discuss progress updates, challenges, and next steps. You record the audio of the meeting and after the meeting pop the audio into Castmagic. From there, you create action items that can then translate to tasks in your project management tool, such as Trello, for each action item discussed.

You then attach the meeting notes file to the relevant Trello card and include a link to the notes in the task description. As team members work on their tasks, they can easily refer back to the meeting notes for context and update the Trello card with their progress.

In your next weekly meeting, you can review the project board alongside your new meeting notes to ensure all tasks are progressing as planned and address any new challenges or priorities that arise.

Castmagic Takes Your Meeting Notes to the Next Level

With the help of this guide and tools like Castmagic, you'll be well-equipped to take effective meeting notes that keep you and your team organized, informed, and productive. Castmagic's AI-powered platform simplifies the process of creating comprehensive and actionable meeting notes, saving you time and effort while ensuring accuracy. With features like automatic transcription, Magic Chat, and custom prompts, Castmagic is the ultimate solution for streamlining your meeting note-taking and enhancing collaboration across your organization. Experience the power of Castmagic for yourself and elevate your meeting note-taking skills. Try Castmagic for free today!

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