How to Record Meeting Minutes (And Why They’re So Important) 

How to Record Meeting Minutes: Best Practices & Benefits

Collaboration is the cornerstone of thriving businesses, and as workplace cultures continue to evolve after the changes spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, so must the way businesses embrace remote work, collaboration, and communication. 

For your company to take full advantage of the flexibility that remote work, online meetings, and telecommunications offer, it’s more important than ever to record and share meeting minutes accurately, consistently, and efficiently.

What are Meeting Minutes?

The term “meeting minutes” has nothing to do with time, even though it would make perfect sense if it did! In this context, “minutes” comes from minutia, a Latin word meaning “details” or “trifles.” Some sources claim the term was first used in the 1700s from the phrase minuta scriptura, which means “small notes.” Thus, minutes are short summaries of meetings.

At the heart of meeting minutes, you’ll find transcripts: fast, accurate, written records of what transpires during crucial company meetings. Keeping solid transcripts of what is discussed in meetings will benefit any company. However, to reap those benefits, meeting minutes must be recorded correctly.

Meeting minutes should record the facts: who was present, who took part in the discussion, and what decisions were made. In addition to this basic information, it’s also important to document any action items that need follow-up after the meeting has concluded. This can include tasks assigned to specific members of the team, deadlines for completion, and any other steps that need to be taken.

The benefits of having accurate meeting minutes are clear. They document the course of action and provide an audit trail so everyone is aware of what happened during a particular meeting. This helps organizations stay on track, prevents misunderstandings, and ensures accountability. Plus, having transcripts on hand can help refresh memories months down the line. 

One of the main challenges is making sure minutes are taken consistently and accurately. This can be done by having someone designated for the task, or by using digital tools like Sonix to streamline the process. 

What is Meeting Minutes’ Big Deal?

You can define meeting minutes as detailed records of what happened in a meeting. Minutes have five valuable functions:

  1. They serve as reminders
  2. They serve as a guide
  3. They serve as a reference for absent members
  4. They save a tremendous amount of time
  5. They could serve as evidence in your company’s defense 

Team members can keep track of schedules, commitments, and action items when they can reference proper meeting minutes. Most companies move at a fast pace. Without reminders, something will inevitably slip through the cracks. 

However, with meeting minutes, everyone can keep track of their goals and make sure everything is lined up for success.

Taking meeting minutes helps every attendee know their responsibilities, regardless of whether they were present at the meeting or not. Minutes also help prevent repetitive discussions, which improves workplace efficiencies. , 

Many companies and organizations have tasks or projects that repeat on a regular basis. Being able to refer to previous meeting minutes to see who was assigned a particular action item makes it easier to assign similar tasks to the same employee in the future.

The recorder creates a guide for the team to reference and follow. Summaries for anyone unable to attend can save valuable time that would otherwise be used to get absent members up to speed. No one is left behind, and no one has to spend precious time filling absentees in on what they missed.

Proper minutes can range from casual to extremely formal; they can detail a group planning a birthday party or summarize a legal court session. No matter what type of meeting they document, having accurate, thorough minutes can provide valuable information in the future. 

You can use informal minutes to take simple overviews and document discussions for future reference. Alternatively, choose formal minutes when working with official legal documents. Minutes can serve as evidence in the event that litigation occurs because it documents facts about intentions, decisions, and actions.

How to Record Meeting Minutes 

Let’s cover the ideal way to record minutes. Start by choosing the right person to take minutes; it’s not easy to listen to everything and record it simultaneously, whether by hand or with a device. 

Sonix offers a better way to take meeting minutes. This integrated program automatically turns audio and video into text. However, it’s still crucial that the recorder knows what to include in meeting minutes and what to omit, regardless of how transcripts are created. 

Aren’t Meeting Minutes Just Notes? What’s the Difference?

There’s a bit of a difference between minutes and notes; some of it lies in how to record meeting minutes vs. how to record notes. Typically, attendees take notes simply to serve as a reminder of what happened during a meeting. Notes are significantly less formal than meeting minutes, so they are helpful for internal meetings attended by staff members.  On the other hand, minutes are much more organized and more appropriate if there are external participants in meetings. Minutes can be thought of as formal transcripts, while notes are informal, brief reminders.

In addition to minutes being formal and notes being informal, there are five more big differences between what should be included in meeting minutes and what meeting notes generally contain:

  1. Minutes document details of the meeting agenda and are shared with attendees. Notes are more for personal reference and aren’t typically shared.
  2. A document with minutes is more structured and often has a template. Notes, however, have no structure and depend on the notetaker’s personal style.
  3. Minutes should be taken by a designated minute-taker and assigned as a duty before the meeting. Notes are taken for recall only, so a designated notetaker isn’t necessary.
  4. Project managers or board members might approve minutes. Meeting notes don’t require any type of approval. 
  5. A meeting minutes document serves as a full record of the meeting; meeting notes only mention the most important details of a meeting.

Keep in mind that even though notes are informal and used for personal reference, they can still be shared; they just generally aren’t written with the intent of sharing in mind. Notes are usually written simply and in an unorganized fashion, while minutes should follow a systematic, organized (and often pre-approved) template. 

The Evolution of Recording Meeting Minutes

For decades, minutes from a meeting had been painstakingly recorded by hand, heavily edited, and maybe typewritten. Many people still take minutes this way. 

To provide everyone who attended the meeting with a copy of the minutes, someone would have to feed a hefty amount of paper into a copy machine — and the process would be repeated for every meeting. This outdated process costs a substantial amount of effort, time, and money.

Then came the internet, followed by lightweight, easy-to-transport personal devices that started to take the place of paper and pencil during meetings. As long as the person in charge of recording meeting minutes could type quickly while paying close attention to the proceedings, this became a much faster way to get the job done. 

The introduction of collaboration programs and apps made sharing minutes a simple, paperless task. However, one issue remained: the complex, mistake-prone way many people transcribed their hastily written meeting notes into minutes. 

Unfortunately, most notes can be messy, confusing, and unorganized. It’s challenging to turn that mess into a legible, accurate record of everything that transpires during a meeting. Despite the difficulty, an employee still had to use those notes and piece together a written account of the meeting’s agenda. 

Now, with Sonix, capturing every word during a meeting is almost effortless! You don’t have to scramble to record everything anymore. Sonix does it for you.

How to Record Meeting Minutes

With all the talk about templates, pre-approvals, and organization involved with the “minutes of meeting” meaning, it can seem like an overwhelming burden to learn how to record meeting minutes. However, minutes are important; they often become a powerful resource for companies, organizations, and teams.

Who Will Take the Meeting Minutes?

Meeting minutes offer the benefit of establishing accountability since they contain specific details, especially when members’ votes are documented or specific action items are assigned. It’s best to assign a single person to take minutes during each meeting. 

Many companies and organizations assign an administrative assistant the responsibility of keeping minutes. However, anyone among the meeting attendees can take on the role. 

Many minute-takers today rely on automated programs like Sonix to ease the challenge of how to record meeting minutes. Using a program like Sonix makes the job easier and greatly improves minute-taking accuracy. In addition, it frees up the minute-taker during the meeting so they can actively participate. They can also share clips and full transcripts with others in mere seconds.

What Should be Included in the Minutes?

Every document should begin with a template. A template is an empty outline created ahead of time that can be filled in as the meeting goes along and information is revealed. Creating this template is very easy and only takes a few minutes! And once you get the hang of using the template a few times, it will become second nature. 

Make sure that your template includes the following fields:

  • The date of the meeting
  • The names of people in attendance (including guests)
  • The names of absent members
  • A call to order that lists the time the meeting began and what the overall objective is
  • Agenda item 1 with a summary, motions made, and other important details
  • Additional agenda items with the same information
  • The time the meeting ended
  • The date and time of the next meeting
  • A list of any documents distributed during the meeting
  • Amendments to or acceptance of the previous meeting’s minutes
  • Outcomes of elections
  • Motions that were accepted or rejected

The minute-taker can write everything by hand as the meeting goes on or type information into a template with a laptop or tablet. When it comes to recording meeting minutes correctly, the best way is to take advantage of the benefits of using Sonix AI technology to automatically capture every word and turn it into accurate, organized text.

The Trouble with Recording Meeting Minutes by Hand

Writing or typing meeting minutes by hand isn’t particularly easy. For many people, it takes quite a bit of practice to simultaneously listen and record. There are four main drawbacks or challenges to writing meeting minutes in real time:

It’s a Battle Between Minute-Taking and Participating

It’s difficult for minute-takers to do their jobs well if they are heavily involved in the subject matter discussed in the meeting. This is even more true if the minute-taker has a deep, multilayered knowledge of the topic. Should they focus on minute-taking or participate in the discussion? There is no easy answer. 

In this case, an alternate minute-taker could take over when the main recorder makes their presentation, but that solution brings other challenges.

Too Much Information is Given Too Fast

Meeting discussions rarely follow a linear pattern. It doesn’t always involve just having Person A talk, then having Person B listen and respond. Conversations become convoluted and difficult to follow. 

Often, several people are talking at once, moving the discussion away from the main topic. What should the minute-taker write down when so much is happening at once? It becomes nearly impossible to accurately record the details of several simultaneous conversations.

Running Out of Paper, Ink, or Battery (or Energy!)

Employees can keep up an arduous task like minute-taking for only so long before they burn out, slow down, or simply run out of stamina to keep going. There is always a risk of not having an ample supply of tools needed to get the job done, whether it’s paper and pen, a laptop battery, or a person’s own energy. And what happens when the minute-taker is unable to attend a meeting? 

The Increased Difficulty of a Poorly Run Meeting

Taking minutes during a well-run meeting is a challenge; taking minutes during a meeting that is poorly run, poorly moderated, and poorly led can be a nightmare. Cooperation between the chairperson or moderator and the minute-taker is a key factor in order to take accurate minutes by hand or computer. 

However, this cooperation certainly doesn’t always exist. If the chairperson allows speakers to say whatever they want, regardless of whether it relates to the topic at hand, making the job of the minute-taker so much more difficult.

Capture Minutes from a Meeting with Sonix

With Sonix, minute-takers can automatically capture every important word during meetings so that nothing is left out when it’s time to create provides advanced software powered by AI technology to automatically capture and timestamp every word. 

Leave the minute-taking to Sonix; it’s impressively accurate and will record everything for you. You’ll always be able to adjust what is transcribed, too. And cutting-edge speech-to-text technology allows this transcription software to identify individual speakers and sort exchanges into different paragraphs! 

Share meeting minutes in seconds and take advantage of multi-user permissions to improve collaboration. It’s astonishingly accurate and brilliantly fast. You can search, edit, organize, and share transcripts of meeting minutes with anyone from anywhere on any device.

Minute-takers can also easily add their own notes and comments to the transcripts of meetings created by Sonix. Every meeting minutes recording is accurate, thorough, and, best of all, easy to capture. 

Are you ready to learn more about revolutionizing your meeting minutes? Reach out to our team at Sonix for a free 30-minute transcription demo!

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