Alternative Meeting Minutes

Alternative Meeting Minutes

I hate taking meeting minutes.

Minutes are the instant written record of a meeting. They typically describe what happens at a meeting, include a list of attendees, key topics discussed, points raised on those topics, and resolutions (if any) to those topics. Sounds pretty easy, right? So why do people hate being the one to take the minutes? In my experience, it is very difficult to take minutes objectively and participate in the discussion at the same time. Time is also needed after the meeting to take the minutes and distribute them. To make matters worse, there is a feeling that this is a meaningless duty because know that few people read them.

So my recommendation is to change the concept of minutes to one that people are willing and even eager to read. Unless you need traditional minutes for legal purposes, consider the following alternative to meeting minutes.

What do people want to know about a meeting? Essentially, people care about the decisions that are made in the meeting and what happens next. Therefore, create a “Decision Board”. This is a flip chart where you capture each item on the agenda (a short statement or headline, not a paragraph) and any decisions that are made on that topic. For example:

Item No. 1 on the agenda: Marketing of new products Decision: Identify the appropriate target audience for this product and schedule three focus groups with them. prototype show. It should be finished in 60 days from now. Peg will spearhead this effort.

This captures the end result of any discussion you’ve had. This contains what happened at the meeting so that anyone who did not attend knows what will happen.

Note: A Decision Meeting may also include a decision to defer making a final decision until the next meeting.

For example, Agenda Item #2: Budget Reductions Decision: No decision was made. Have everyone review their estimated expenses through the end of the year and report this number to the next meeting on November 1 for further discussion.

The value of maintaining a decision board is that it reminds the group of what was decided and provides members with a specific set of instant minutes.

I recommend that the decision board be typed up and sent out after the meeting as a reminder of what was accomplished. It becomes quick and easy to review for both attendees and those who were not in the meeting.

Therefore, creating a decision board as an alternative to meeting minutes will improve participation and create more effective meetings.

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