Meeting Notes vs. Minutes: Differences & Tips

Meeting Notes vs. Minutes: Differences & Tips

|Oct 29, 2021

Meeting notes vs. minutes is something that confuses many people around the world. Let's clear this doubt thoroughly: It is all about how we utilize them. Meeting minutes allow you to build a formal report while meeting notes are meant to give a more "informal" approach to the same information.

Now, which one should you use? It all depends on your team’s preferences. Each team is different, and learning why teamwork is important at the workplace is one of the first things you need to know to give an answer to that question.

For today’s article, we’re going to explore the benefits of each option. By the end of the text, you will learn the difference between meeting notes and minutes and will also learn what the best option for your team is. In the end, both terms aim for the same goal: document what you’ve discussed.

Meeting Notes or Meeting Minutes: Key differences

Improving your concentration at work may take a while, especially if you're having trouble staying focused during conferences. Here's where notes of meeting vs. minutes of meeting come into play. For starters, "meeting minutes" isn't about time, while "meeting notes" is a wider concept.

What are the meeting minutes?

What are the meeting minutes?

Meeting minute or minutes is a term used to refer to the formal transcript of a meeting or conference. Here you include multiple elements, such as the topics discussed and key decisions made as the meeting progressed. Once the meeting is finished, each participant receives a copy as they may need it during future meetings.

Besides providing useful information for future meetings, it is also a nice way of keeping track of those employees that couldn't attend the event. According to Paul Axtell from Harvard Business Review, it is one of the two things you should do once a meeting has finished.

What are meeting notes?

What are meeting notes?

Meeting notes are a simpler concept. They only include the “important” topics discussed at the meeting, including decisions and deadlines. Some people prefer this approach as it allows them to record the meeting without following a determined template. This way, they can use their preferred organizational system.

If you’d like to improve your concentration at work, meeting notes can be an excellent tool as they help you stay focused during the whole meeting.

Meeting notes vs. minutes: How are they different?

We've given you a full insight into how both terms work and why people prefer one over the other. However, here we include the key differences so you can have a better idea of the contexts where they're used.

Meeting minutesMeeting notes
They’re usually formally written and include a transcript of the whole meeting.It's an informal piece of text containing the information that a specific person thinks is important.
A template is required.It isn’t necessary to follow a template to write meeting notes.
Upon finished, it needs to be approved.It doesn’t need to be approved as they’re used for personal reference.
It will be handed to all team members once the meeting has finished.

Writing Meeting Minutes: What You Need to Know

Writing Meeting Minutes

Meeting minutes are considered a formal document. Thus, they need to follow a special template to ensure that all the written information is easily legible for all teammates once they receive it. It is a good effective teamwork practice.

Here’s what you need to know when it’s time to write meeting minutes.

  • Include the date and time of the meeting. It may seem trivial, but if your organization conducts meetings too often, it can help you whenever you’re making references to previous conferences. Although it is not strictly necessary, you can also include the next meeting’s date and time by the end of the conference.
  • Make sure that the names of each participant appear in the document, even if they didn’t attend. This way, whenever you go back to it, you will be able to see who was present at that time and ask them questions based on a specific topic, for instance.
  • State the meeting’s purpose. You need to clarify the general topic of that specific meeting, be it a new product launch or address organizational changes.
  • List all the agenda items and topics brought to the conversation. Before the meeting starts, make sure you’ve shared the schedule with all the attendees so they can have a better idea of what will happen throughout the conference.
  • List all the roles assigned for the next occasion, such as hots and time-keeper. These roles should always be in rotation.
  • Last but not least, address all the documents you’ve discussed during the meeting on this document.

Writing Meeting Notes: What You Need to Know

Writing Meeting Notes

Meeting notes are less complicated to write than meeting minutes. As for this resource is all a matter of preference, and you don't need to follow a specific template for it to be effective. However, there's certain information you should include, such as the following:

  • Never forget to write down the date and time of the meeting. This is always a good place to start.
  • If you think it’s necessary, please include the name of all the participants. Like in meeting minutes, you will find it useful to know who was present during the meeting if you have any doubts or questions regarding something they’ve suggested, for instance.
  • Include important information, like the topics discussed, key questions and answers, and other crucial decisions.
  • Summarize the whole meeting in a few sentences. Try to be as concise as possible, but write it in a way that allows you to remember it easily.

This computer skill list should also help you write meeting notes in a more effective way.

As you can see, the debate about meeting notes vs. minutes is not as complicated as it seems. Both are helpful for teamwork in unique ways, although the former has a more personal approach than the latter.

To conclude this article, we'd like to emphasize the preferences. Not all companies hand meeting minutes to the attendees once the meeting has finished, but that doesn't mean you can't take notes.

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