I have one on one meetings with manager and senior members of our company. They raise points in meetings and I note down on paper. Can anyone tell me what are the formats to note minutes of meetings? Which points should give more emphasize and which points one neglected in meetings? Please give day to day example so that it is easy for me to understand.

I am a trainee and recording minutes during meeting hours creates bad impression because they may think I'm neglecting them. So, when to record minutes? while meeting or after meeting?


11 Answers 11


Manager-Tools.com has a couple of great podcasts on effective note taking. Really changed how I took notes and made them a lot more effective.

The really simple boil down is that business isn't college and you're not taking notes to study for a future test. Instead your notes should focus on two things.

1- What was decided: If everyone agreed that you'd use Ruby, and then document that.

2- Who, Does what, By when: Action items are the other key take away. And a decision isn't a decision until you have decided who will do what with the decision by when.

By focusing on just those key things, you spend a lot less time writing and a lot more time understanding.

  • I agree with Joel's response, with a few additional comments to his two points: #1 - Make sure that if the decision is significant (e.g. it impacts/changes the design, any formal documentation (like the technical design document) is updated accordingly - meeting notes should not be the only place critical decisions are made; #2 - Action items can get lost in meeting minutes, especially if you have a lot of meetings. Commit to managing the action items in a central location and refer to that location in the minutes. That way everyone has one place to find their action items.
    – balinjdl
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 8:24
  • @balinjdl- Very good points. I have started keeping an Action Item register in a spreadsheet. This goes on whatever your shared repository of choice is. After every meeting I run, I move the action items to the register. At the start of meetings I run, we start by reviewing the action item register. I also keep a separate "Decision Log". Any significant decisions get put into this log which I usually keep in the same spreadsheet as my action items and risks. One document with all Risks, Issues, AI and decisions for the project. Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 17:33

First, let me say that if taking minutes in the meeting is your assigned task, then I highly doubt that your superiors will think badly of you for writing things down -- for that moment, it is your job, and unless they told you that you must either memorize everything or record the meeting and produce notes afterwards, do not be worried about making a bad impression. If you are still worried, simply ask your boss how he or she prefers that you go about performing this task.

If you are talking about taking personal notes during a meeting, for your own benefit and not for publishing after the meeting, then you should take notes in whatever way is beneficial to you. Since you are a new employee, you might say "Do you mind if I take notes?" before the meeting begins, and if anyone raises an objection you'll have your answer. Although I personally have never experienced a situation in which a manager did not allow or appreciate note-taking during the meeting (unless it was a super top secret meeting in which the information was never to leave a room), the only way you are going to know if that is the case is to ask.

There is always going to be a balance between writing too much and not writing enough, and "enough" depends on the type of meeting and whether the notes are for your personal benefit or for the benefit of the team and external stakeholders. Many people use paper and pen, and many people bring a laptop or iPad -- it depends on what makes you the most productive. Some people underline important points, some people circle them, some people type them in bold. It doesn't really matter as long as when you sit down after the meeting to produce the "final" version -- either for yourself, if you do that, or for others, you know what you meant.

As to precisely what to write down, again it depends: if it's just for you, write enough so that you remember what was said. If it's for more people than just yourself, err on the side of writing down too much -- you want to be able to produce an accurate record of the important points in the discussion. If you are producing minutes for more a larger audience, then be sure you send your minutes to the group for review and edits -- if not to everyone who was in the meeting, then definitely to your superior and to those people who said something "on the record", to ensure you accurately captured their points.

Finally, you might take a look at this Productivity SE post: "Not okay to take notes at meetings?" as well as other posts on that site tagged "note-taking", for the particulars of how to do it in the most productive way.


I have done it many times. Usually nobody wants to do it. So when there is a new commer like you, or like I was at the time, most managers are happy to give us the job. You rarely have to write down every word that is said during the meeting (one on one or many people. Usally you have to write down the decisions, consensus, agreements that are reached. The most important thing is to ask and write down who is going to do the follow up of every decision. Usually it is the task of the one who leads the meeting to do that; but sometimes he or she forgets about it or it is simply not clear. So, then, ask the question "Who is going to do the follow up on this issue?". On the next meeting, everybody will be able to veryfy if the job was done by the person responsable of it. You can type directly on your laptop or take notes on a sheet of paper and type your minutes report afterward, depending on what is the fatest for you. Writing down the minutes in a meeting, for a new commer, is a very good way to earn the trust of your managers and to know your compagny better. You will also meet the decisions making people. Read it many times and correct it until it is perfect, especially for the first time. Watch you english too. Just seize your opportunities in your situation.


Taking minutes is important for virtually any meeting. Despite the importance of this task, it is not easy especially if you are not well prepared for it. Fortunately, with the following tips, anyone can effectively take minutes.

Prepare For the Meeting

The first step to taking minutes effectively is by preparing for the meeting. You need to have all the relevant tools that you need before the meeting kicks off. Other than gathering information about the meeting, you should invest in a template that can help you in taking minutes. You can get a nice meeting minutes template for this task REALLY from online sources like Dotxes.

Prepare a Seating Chart

When taking minutes, you will need to refer to people as you indicate whatever issues that they raised. Preparing a seating chart will help you identify all the speakers easily so that you can reference them in the minutes instead of repeatedly asking for their names.

Take Down Essential Information

To be good at taking minutes, do not attempt to illustrate the entire conversation as you hear it. On the contrary, take down only the important points in a short and concise manner. Remember to ask for clarification of any issues that you may not have grasped well.

Always Proof the Minutes

Just like any other write-up, you must always proof your minutes after the meeting to ensure that you have captured everything correctly.

With these tips, taking minutes is simplified, and you also get to produce an outstanding piece of work.


Taking Minutes of Meeting (MOM) is crucial, and in fact mandated by some of the international process methodologies and standards (CMMI, PMBOK, ISO, etc.)

Let's say that your organization is not following any of the process or methodologies, then you may need ask permission at the beginning of the meeting, to take personal notes and if it is okay to publish and circulate it as informal MOM email. If permitted, you may jot down notes as follows -

  1. Status of tasks/agenda points
  2. Decisions made during the meeting related to the tasks/agenda points
  3. List of action items/tasks and person assigned to it and deadline for the task

Now suppose your organization is following any of the project or process management methodologies, then usually for regular meetings, the minute taker (in this case, you) is pre-determined. In this scenario, it is advised to jot down quick personal notes on a writing pad during the meeting, and towards the end of the meeting summarize those notes with everyone. After the meeting, usually within 24 hours of the meeting, you need to formally record the notes into minutes, in a formal MOM template or document, which may have the following minimum required sections -

  1. Meeting name, date, time and place
  2. Classification of the document (whether internal, public, confidential, etc.)
  3. Document version control or revision history
  4. List of participants (both present and absent in separate columns)
  5. List of agenda items intended for discussion during the meeting
  6. List of meeting results (including decisions, action items, status updates, etc.)
  7. Distribution list for the MOM circulation

At the end of the day, remember to KISS (Keep It Short and Simple)


as trainee, I assume you are doing something like orientation. think of the following:

  • Some information is already written, ask for a copy of the material if possible rather than writing them again.
  • I agree with what jcmeloni mentioned: set the expectations right, tell them that you need to take notes as part of your learning.
  • you may read what you have written to them to confirm. also, sometimes it gives a positive impression that you value what they are saying.

If it is a normal meeting with a boss:

  • use abbreviations to speed up your writing.
  • also I agree with Joel Bancroft-Connors: note down the actions with some details. Dates and do-ers are very important.
  • write down the answers to questions that you raised. so you don't ask again unnecessary :)
  • try before you leave to review your main notes with the attendees.

your problem may not be note taking, it is in creating an impression that you are not distracted from the attendees. I think people like to be treated as important (writing down what they say is an example) it is just how you show it.

good luck with your career.


My company actually ran a blog post explaining how it's done. In summary, Organize your minutes by agenda item->discussion topic->action item (and who it's assigned to).

Tips to keep in mind: Don't write down everything! You'll just waste time and regret it later. Don't forget to send the minutes to people who couldn't make it, to ensure they're up to date. Finally, keep track of not just action items, but who they're assigned to. Hope that helps!


Minutes of meetings should be written during the meeting. Just keep it simple and note down a resume of each argument classified by:

  • Decisions
  • Suspended task
  • Informations
  • Discussions

Minutes should obviously be shared to participants at the end of the meeting.

Here is a simple and useful template meeting minutes (hope you understand french)


In addition to the great answers here that are specific to note-taking techniques, nothing can replace that, I have also used tools to compliment effective techniques.

Regarding this statement:

I am a trainee and recording minutes during meeting hours creates bad impression because they may think I'm neglecting them.

If you are the "dedicated note taker", I'd bet this is expected and wouldn't worry about it.

For my situation where I wasn't the note taker, but rather someone just taking notes that everyone would happen to reference, my solution was recording audio, specifically Livescribe. It records the audio of the meeting and syncs it with the notes you're taking. In this way, you have the entire meeting to reference, and can just make a note of something important making it very easy to find later.

You could also just use a regular audio recorder and take physical notes at a later time.

I starting doing this because in the beginning of my career, my meetings would often entail highly technical discussions with engineers that were way over my head. Using this method, I could go back and study the conversation later and be magically smarter the next time we spoke. Now that I'm more familiar with the field (and the jargon), I don't really use it.

The Cons:

  • It's expensive (specifically Livescrive)

I found it a good investment for me at the time because I also used it for other contexts, like my classes.

  • Make absolutely sure you ask permission to record the audio.

Every time I wanted to record, I would ask "Do you mind if I record our discussion for me to reference later?". Usually everyone was fine with it, however I worked on an open source project, so people were very transparent.

  • Not everyone will comfortable with it, especially for one-on-one meetings.

It's definitely not always the best solution for every context, so your mileage may vary. Especially since you're a trainee, people may not "trust" you yet. But, this may be more helpful in the future as your responsibilities grow.


Prior to the meeting, the meeting organizer should have prepared an agenda. If you have this ahead of time, you will know which topics to expect. There may be additional topics brought up as well, especially at the end. Be prepared to note these as you go along. Note any topic that seems significant. You can decide later whether or not to include them in your notes. If a topic is just an aside, I will often note something basic such as, "the topic of database connectivity was raised. Joe agreed to check with the DBAs to have them run tests".

An agenda will also help you by having a roster of attendees. If you do not have an agenda, do your best to note who was in attendance. Note any absences.

Keep your notes simple but most importantly, you need to be able to decipher them later. Taking down a note won't do you any good if you cannot remember what you wrote or why you wrote it. When key points are raised, note who brought up the topic and who gave key responses.

I don't see why you taking meeting minutes would create a bad impression. On the contrary, I think note takers are some of the most engaged attendees in a meeting. Sometimes I will take notes even if I'm not the organizer or officially-designated person to do minutes, simply as a way of staying focused.

I usually work on meeting minutes right after the meeting or at least that same day. Otherwise, key information becomes forgotten over time, both by you and and the attendees. Be sure to note any key decisions agreed up on during the meeting and any resulting or still-outstanding action items. Finally, note the date and location of the next meeting, if one is scheduled. When I send out the meeting minutes, I always say that recipients should respond with any corrections or questions.


I have simple format for you

Call Details:

Call for - Subject/Agenda one liner

Call Medium - Skype/hangout

Call Attendee -

Call Date & Time - Wednesday, June 24, 2015 at 8:30 PM IST

Call Duration - Approximately 50 minutes.

Call Summary:

Action Points:

  1. Who will do what

Next meeting agenda (if any):

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