Because most project teams do not have the luxury of having someone dedicated to note taking during project meetings, the project manager is often left with the responsibility of taking meeting notes. This leaves the PM with the need to engage in the conversation, read body language and understand subtle messages, ensure that the discussions stay on point, be sensitive to time constraints, and capture the notes, decisions, and action items.
That’s a lot to do at one time.
In order to tackle all these activities at once, I’ve had to find a good balance for note taking that works for me. I have been asked by several folks lately to share my templates. I wanted to post them where they can be accessed by anyone who may find them helpful.
These are actually samples (rather than templates), so that you can see how the notes are actually crafted.
You’ll notice that I stick to the main points and don’t list a ton of discussion detail. This helps me focus on the meeting while still capturing important information. My goal is to capture high-level discussion points, decisions, and action items, while ensuring that the meeting meets it’s intended purpose in the time allotted.
Additional Information on Taking Meeting Notes
Here are some additional points about note taking and meeting preparation that I have found work well for me:
1. Agenda: To ensure your meeting is effective and focused, prepare a clear agenda and sending it out ahead of time. (Template provided.) The Agenda should clearly lay out the following:
• Meeting Date/Time/Location
• Clearly Stated Meeting Purpose (ask yourself what you want to have accomplished by the end of the meeting. When the meeting is over – what do you hope to have attained? This is your meeting purpose.)
• Topics to be covered (you can additionally time block the items if needed)
2. By writing my meeting notes in a notebook rather than my laptop, I find that I am more “present” and engaged in the meeting discussions. It is also clear to other attendees that I am present, rather than possibly doing something else on my computer.
3. I use a modified shorthand method to capture meeting notes more quickly – I like Handywrite, but only use the most commonly used words. My shorthand is a mishmash that works for me.
4. I keep an Excel spreadsheet separately for a comprehensive list of action items and decisions. After each meeting, I simply drop the latest action items into my spreadsheet and update them from there when they are completed.
Let me know if you have questions, or other helpful information to share regarding what works for you. I’d love to know.
If you like this post, you might also like How to Run a Great Project Kickoff Meeting