Save minutes by not taking meeting minutes

Image by Stock.xchng user: svilen001

When was the last time you read meeting minutes?

We all attend meetings and take notes in our different ways but the concept of meeting minutes still lingers on as part of much organization’s bureaucracy. While working with clients in the commercial and federal government sectors, it has been rare to see meeting minutes used for anything after the meeting ends. In fact, I’ve come to see them as a waste outside of being a contractual stipulation or being just “the way it has always been done.”

We now have technology on our side when it comes to meetings because many of today’s unified communications, online conferencing, and online collaboration tools have features to capture the outcome of meetings.

Even deftly run meetings require participant focus and meeting minutes can effectively sideline a meeting participant when they could otherwise be contributing to the discussion.

Here are some new considerations about meeting minutes:

Consider status reports vs. meeting minutes. While I’ve soured on the idea of meeting minutes, I am still a believer in status reports because status reports speak to the focus of the project team member’s work and do a better job of documenting their activities.

Institute collaborative note taking. One of my biggest pet peeves about taking meeting minutes is that too many times meeting attendees are already taking their own notes anyway. With tools like Evernote Business and Microsoft OneNote enabling collaboration, why sentence just one of your team mates to take meeting minutes? Collaborative note taking — implemented with some thought — can actually add more value than the hapless meeting scribe who may or may not even care. At the conclusion of the meeting, attendees can just share their notes with the rest of the group.

Capture meeting minutes from the meeting leader’s seat. Giving the duty of capturing meeting minutes to the technical writer or the poor team member who was out sick the day before is counterproductive to meeting minutes. Too many times I’ve seen this approach to meeting minutes not capture what the meeting leader intended to be captured in the minutes. This is yet another sign to me that people go into meetings with their own agendas and listen only to the important parts (that affect their job or role on the project) . The project manager or meeting leader needs to capture the meeting minutes. After all, it’s their meeting. They know what the goals of the meeting are (if the meeting had goals in the first place) making them the one who should capture the minutes.

If meeting minutes remain a must…
Some project management methodologies and even contractual stipulations require meeting minutes to be captured you should at least make sure that meeting minutes serve as a record of the meeting not as a disruptor.