2

When running a project meeting it is sometimes difficult to make meeting minutes/notes and lead the meeting. I have considered using a voice recording application so I can play back the meeting after to add more clarity to the notes I do manage to take down.

Does anyone actively record meetings? do you find this technique useful?

  • 1
    I'm concerned that recording meetings might lead to people talking less openly. I'm not sure what project meeting is, but, for example, recording a retrospective-type meeting would be a bad idea. – Nathan Cooper Sep 7 '16 at 19:48
1

I have recorded meetings in the past and although, as is obvious, it can be a life-saver to capture 100% of what is said in the meeting, it is time consuming because in order to document, you will have to listen to the entire meeting again, at least once, if not take even more time.

Here are a few comments to consider:

What is the purpose of the notes and who is the audience? I have recorded meetings, taken the time to document every important point, distribute the meeting notes and found the level of detail to be overwhelming and too much for my audience to gain any advantage.

You may need to only capture enough information for executive leaders to refer to in the subsequent meeting(s).

In cases where the meetings are say, higher level project meetings, it may be necessary to just document action items, decisions, as well as issues and risks which should have actionable information (who, when, what, etc.).

In periodic project meetings, often the basis of the agile scrum practice is useful, which is: 1. what did you do in the prior period 2. What are you going to do in the upcoming period 3. What obstacles are you facing Note: there is also a parking lot concept for any item not related to the above three items.

In my experience, the critical items are action items and decisions. These are those things that need to be tracked, reviewed and revisited by project management staff.

You may want to give that a try, in conjunction with your recordings to see how that works out. In such a case, you will have the recording as a backup.

I hope this helps and good luck!

2

We cannot give legal advice here, which in any case would differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

I have in the past used this exact method- primarily because I came to realise that my boss would make a decision or issue a diktat, and then in subsequent meetings flatly deny he had done so. Having deployed the recording technique (it was for departmental meetings) I noticed two effects:

  • My boss completely ceased to U-turn
  • It was a monumental nightmare to listen to recordings and make notes from them that, counter-intuitively, seemed to take longer to achieve than just taking notes in the meeting

So overall I ditched the idea and applied myself to learning how to take quick efficient notes within meetings, even if I was doing most of the talking. The key to this is understanding what key bits of information you need to record and only noting that. Taking full "he said, she said" notes is difficult, labour intensive and ultimately a complete waste of time under normal circumstances.

Hone your note-taking skills.

  • +1 for "learning how to take quick efficient notes within meetings" - that's definitely the key. In our company, senior-level meetings are done using a screen sharing tool or a chat, and 'minutes' are written on the fly. If someone disagrees, it's important to discuss during the meeting, not after. This way, at the end of the meeting, you already have a bullet list of decisions and next actions. – Tiago Cardoso Sep 8 '16 at 22:35
1

A Process-Oriented Way to Think About Meeting Notes

Unfortunately, you are solving the wrong problem when you focus on how to take notes rather than on the role of note-taking itself. Please consider the following:

  1. Your job as a project manager is to facilitate meetings, not perform the role of meeting secretary.
  2. A meeting should be focused. If you find yourself covering so many topics that personal notes are necessary, you may be abusing the meeting process.
  3. Some people can take notes while participating, and some can't. If you can't, focus on active listening and facilitating instead.
  4. If you don't take good notes, delegate the role of keeping minutes to another person on the team or an outside resource.
  5. If you're just trying to nail down meeting outcomes, circulate a meeting summary afterwards for confirmation, and ask people to identify any key points that may have been missed.

There are certainly meetings where I take notes (e.g. a requirements-gathering session with a client), but the majority of my meetings are spent focused on coming to an agreement about something specific. Documenting that agreement afterwards is generally a good idea, but rarely requires detailed note-taking.

In short, you should re-examine your assumptions about what your role is in meetings, and what problem you're trying to solve with detailed notes. Then, find a process-oriented solution that works for your team and go with that.

0

Tried it a number of times and found it not useful in the overwhelming majority of cases. Sometimes, though, when you're forced to deal with extremely manipulative, antagonistic people (which is thankfully very rare in my case), a recording can be useful to better understand the person's strategies to side-track the discussion or otherwise avoid arriving at an unpleasant, but logical conclusion. In these rare cases, recordings have been somewhat enlightening.

That said, I've been in (too) many "he said, she said" discussions which were frequently fruitless because they depend on meeting minutes or e-mails from a year ago and it would be completely impractical to listen to e.g. several 1-2h meetings just to prove one point, even if you had recorded them all.

0

Consider for a moment that leading a meeting should not be a very onerous endeavor. I lead many meetings, and rarely need to do more than kick it off and then gently prod to keep things on the rails. It leaves plenty of time for note taking. You may be taking too active of a role.

Perhaps what you need isn't a better way to record the meeting, but simply to let go of fine grained control of the meeting enough to allow yourself the time to take better notes. You may even find that people are more engaged when not so pressured to stick precisely to an agenda. (The agenda is still important, just not so important that it should stifle collaboration.)

Or, a bit more bluntly, be quiet long enough for others in the room to speak.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.