Writing Meeting Notes

Creating Effective, Actionable Records

Clear, actionable meeting notes will help move things forward.

© iStockphoto/brianjackson

Have you ever attended a meeting where no one has done what they promised to do at the last one? Because no progress has been made since last time, there's little to discuss, and people soon lose interest. Before you know it, the group's momentum grinds to a halt.

It's a common enough scenario, and yet it's one that can often be avoided simply by making sure that adequate notes are circulated promptly after each meeting. That way, with the discussion still fresh in people's minds, everyone has a clear reminder of what they need to do.

In this article we'll show you how to take thorough, well-organized notes. We'll cover what to put in, and what you can leave out, as well as how to present your notes in a way which maximizes the chances of them being read and acted upon.

Of course, we're not going to pretend that note writing is a thrilling activity, or a particularly exciting aspect of your career. Yet, clearly written, comprehensive and organized notes can be very powerful. They can make the difference between those who attended the meeting going away and doing nothing, or actually doing what's needed in order to move a project forwards. And that progress could be a direct result of YOUR notes!


This article is not about taking minutes, which are formal and very structured. Instead, it focuses on producing action-oriented records of informal meetings.

Before the Meeting

If you know beforehand that you'll be taking meeting notes, spend some time preparing (it will be well worth the effort!) Keep in mind the following:

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