If you're someone who attends or leads many meetings, you know firsthand how overwhelming it can be to remember every detail discussed during the session. This is where meeting summaries come in handy. By creating a concise recap of the meeting, you can capture important details and actions decided upon by the team. Not only does a meeting summary serve as a reminder to those who were present, but it's also a convenient way to inform those who were unable to attend.
In this article, I'll discuss how you can create a meeting summary that is both effective and of great value. I'll delve into the difference between meeting summaries and meeting minutes and provide you with tips for formatting and structuring your summary based on real-life examples. By learning how to create a well-crafted meeting summary, you can improve communication and productivity within your team. So, let's get started!
What is a meeting summary?
A meeting summary can be considered as an informal version of so-called meeting minutes or notes. It is a written document that recaps the essential discussions, decisions, and action items from a meeting. It also serves as a reference document for team members to track project progress and remind them of their responsibilities.
The summary is typically sent as an email after the meeting to all participants, including those who were unable to attend. Unlike meeting minutes, a meeting summary is informal and often includes due dates, project deadlines, and updates. It's designed to be concise and easy to understand, providing team members with a clear and brief overview of what was discussed.
But what's actually the difference between meeting minutes and a meeting summary?
Meeting minutes vs meeting summary
Meeting minutes serve as an official record of a meeting and contain a request for approval of the previous meeting's minutes, as well as a list of all attendees and absentees, the meeting agenda, action items, decisions, schedules and due dates. They're generally more detailed and formal than a meeting summary and can include an official meeting agenda. On the other hand, a meeting summary is a brief and concise document that serves as a reminder of what occurred during the meeting. While it's less formal than meeting minutes, it should still include important information such as decisions and action items. A meeting summary is primarily for your own benefit and recollection of what was discussed during the meeting, so it's essential to use your own approach and style that is the most effective for you.
How to writing a meeting summary
Now that we know the difference between a meeting summary and meeting minutes, let's have a look at how a meeting summary is created.
1. 📚 Prepare relevant materials before the next meeting
Before you head off to your next meeting, take some time to gather any relevant materials that might come in handy. This could include past meeting summaries or any documents that were referenced during previous discussions. Reviewing these can help you to refresh your memory on what was previously discussed. By taking a little bit of time to prepare ahead of time, you'll be setting yourself up for a more successful and productive meeting. If you want to be more efficient, you can follow a preparation checklist.
2. 📝 Take detailed notes during the meeting
Taking detailed meeting notes is crucial for remembering important information. If you have the luxury of having someone designated to take notes, like jamie, that’s great! But if not, try rotating the responsibility among team members. If you are taking notes, focus on the agenda items and highlight any key decisions made. Be sure to include who is assigned to what task and any important details discussed. This way, you can keep a clear and concise record of the meeting.
3. 🎙️ Record the meeting
It might also be helpful to record or transcribe your meetings. This will give you the opportunity to go back and review to make sure all important information is captured. However, reviewing meeting recordings or transcripts is a quite time-consuming task and therefore, I recommend making sure to capture everything already in the meeting itself.
4. ✏️ Highlight decisions made and tasks assigned
In order to effectively follow up on the decisions made during a meeting, it's important to take note of the key decisions and any action items that come up. By assigning tasks to specific individuals and setting clear deadlines, you can ensure that progress is made towards meeting your goals.
5. 📅 Include a reminder of the next meeting date
I usually like to include a note about the date and time of the next meeting in my summary - it'll help everyone keep track of upcoming deadlines and give them a chance to prepare for the next discussion. Plus, if you haven't sent out an invite yet, this is the perfect opportunity to make sure everyone has it on their calendar.
6. 🖇️ Attach supporting documents
Don't forget to attach any supporting documents that can provide more clarity to the topics discussed in the meeting. These can be emails, client communications, contracts, project instructions, or even interesting articles or blogs related to the discussion. Including these documents can make it easier for attendees to recall details and catch up on important information.
7. 📂 Organise and proofread your summary
One of the last steps, but probably the most important one, is to give your meeting summary a last proofread. Make your meeting summary easier to understand (you can use subheadings and highlight the key action items to make it more visual). If you have a specific template, stick to it. Also take a moment to review it for spelling and grammatical errors. Address any ambiguities.
8. 📩 Share your meeting summary with all participants
Before sending it out to all participants, I always like to let a second person read over it once and check if everything is correct. After that, you can email it to all the attendees, absentees, and anyone else who might need the information.
Templates and real life examples
I hope this article gave you a good understanding of how a meeting summary should look like and what the most important items are to include in a meeting summary.
If you do not have the time to write meeting summaries during meetings, feel free to try out jamie. jamie is a personal AI meeting assistant that takes notes for you. It works across all meeting platforms and even offline. With jamie there is no need to read through long transcripts or the act of manual note taking during calls.