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Ever wondered how some project professionals have the supernatural ability to write less but still have everything covered. After an exhaustive two hour meeting involving a number of discussions and raised issues that clearly affect timeline, deliverables and pose a certain level of risks, how do effective Project management professionals manage to productively provide a clear overview of the meeting with directive feedback on the next line of actions and relevant people who are accountable and responsible for delivering the next list requirements?
The answer to this seemingly and rather difficult task is as simple as the answer to most complex questions. Listen to what is being said and what is not being said.
You can easily do this by doing the following:

  1. As you listen to what is being said, take note of what hasn’t been mention.
  2. Is this a change request?
  3. How does it affect time line?
  4. Have we looked at the risks involved?
  5. How does this affect quality?
  6. Do we have the resources and can we allocate the relevant time to this?
  7. Listen to not only what is being said but what is being implied (The client is asking for a change but does not see it as a change request but rather part of the signed off specification)
  8. Slow the meeting down by asking directive and relevant question to confirm type of issue (change request, off specification, concern), Assess the impact on time, cost, resources, and quality. Review the potential risks, weight the Quality Expectation against Acceptance Criteria, consider the timeline – milestone and allocated tolerance or deviation from set deadlines, know who is accountable and responsible for delivering and when.

What most people don’t know is that meeting minutes shouldn’t be an exact recording of everything that happened during a session. Minutes are meant to record basic information such as the actions assigned and decisions made. Then, they can be saved and used for reference or background material for future meetings relating to the same topic.
With this in mind, you don’t need to worry too much about having your hands full and mind disarrayed before the meeting. You also don’t need to question what information you should record and what you should leave out? With these questions at the back of your head and loads of white spaces on your big notes, you will soon find yourself writing a comprehensive and exhaustive minutes that leaves project members feeling secured and confident that they don’t have to do the remembering anymore. They can completely rely on you.
You don’t need to sit through a meeting madly scribbling what you think are minutes only to find out later that you missed essential information and putting your job as risks for coming across incompetent.
Why taking Meeting Minutes is so Important
Do you remember being in a class of 50 and being required to come up with a 1,000 word essay on what you studied in class? Have you also noticed how 90% of the answers to the essay is always discussed in that same class. Funny how those who paid attention and ask the right questions come up with the best essays while those who felt they could study later, get confused on what to study. Taking minutes is absolutely critical to the success of the next stage forward after each meeting. They capture the essential information of a meeting – decisions and assigned actions. Asking the right questions in meetings and taking notes accordingly resolve unseen issues and avoid future project issues. They keep attendees on track by reminding them of their role in a project and clearly define what happened in a group session. How many times have you seen your project team members in disagreement or clients confused about requirements and deliverables. With a fully comprehensive minute, everyone is clear on what is required of them and the next line of action.
What you now need to do?
The next time you are involved in taking minutes, make sure you are not among the major participants in the meeting in order to be able reflect of what’s being said and take notes effectively. By taking a spectated view, you get to see the bigger picture and the questions you ask are taken more seriously by the project team because they will rely on your meeting minutes for directives and as a refresher after the meeting.
To make your work much easier, use a template for recording your meeting minutes. You can find loads online.