Have you ever left a very productive meeting only to forget pretty much everything that was discussed the second you get back to your desk and are hit with a barrage of emails, queries and telephone calls?
This is an all too common scenario in many businesses, but could be easily overcome if people put a bit of time and effort into recording their meetings.
By this we don’t mean simply scribbling some notes as the discussion progresses as these will often only make sense to the person who writes them, and even then key points can be missed. We mean putting an official recording process in place, so you can rest assured that the details of every meeting are preserved and can be used to verify what was said, inform people who couldn’t attend and provide a historical record of discussions. If people know a meeting is being recorded in some way it can also help to keep the discussions focused and on track.
How to do the recording
There are a number of options open to you when it comes to recording meetings. Firstly, there’s a good old fashioned paper and pen. If you are going to take written notes or minutes, allocate one person the task of producing the ‘master’ notes, that way you will get an overview of everything rather than a mish-mash of what different people perceive to be the key points. It can be useful to invite someone to the meeting solely to take notes, as that way they won’t become distracted from the task.
Another option is to make visible notes using a white board. You can only record key points this way, but it can help keep meetings on track if everyone can see the main discussion points in front of them. Visible notes are also particularly productive if the meeting involves an element of brainstorming or problem solving.
You can also record meetings using audiotape, which will mean you get every little detail down. This method is particularly useful if the discussion is likely to be fast-paced or cover complex or technical areas. However, you may find that some people are reluctant to speak up if they are being recorded, so make sure they know exactly why you are doing so and who will be using the recording before the meeting begins.
To see the benefits of properly recording a meeting, it is important that you follow up once the session has finished.
Type up a version of the notes, whatever form they were made in, while the meeting is still fresh in your mind and ensure these are distributed among all of the attendees, plus anyone who couldn’t make it. You may also want to produce a few bullet points so the key points of the meeting can be seen at a glance, for example any key decisions made or action points which need working on.
It’s also important to ensure that details such as the meeting date and who attended are included at the start of the notes. Once they are completed file a master copy away somewhere safe in case it’s needed for reference in the future.
While this may seem like a time-consuming process, once you have a procedure in place, and staff are used to it, it shouldn’t be too much hassle and will help ensure that every meeting is worthwhile.
Posted by Julie Tucker