Posted by: kerrywills | December 27, 2009

Tip: Don’t Take Meeting Minutes

I have been to countless meetings in my professional career and I can honestly say that meeting minutes don’t work and are a waste of time (IMO). What typically happens is that someone sends out a few bullets after (sometimes weeks) the meeting occurs. Oftentimes there are decisions made or follow ups that need to be managed. There is usually a project folder with all of the meeting minutes sorted by date. Having a folder of meeting minutes means that team members need to sort through each document to find the relevant information and it rarely gets revisited.

A more effective technique to manage meeting information is to track it in central “living” documents. There are really only four things that can happen in a meeting and each of these things should be tracked in it’s own document:

1. Action Item Log – Any follow up item from the meeting should be documented here with the date assigned, owner, due date and status

2. Issue Log – Any issue that is brought up in the meeting should be tracked here with the person who noted it, the assigned owner and progress

3. Risk Log – Sometimes risks are raised in meetings which need to be managed with the impact and action plan

4. Decision Log – Any decision made in a meeting needs to be tracked with the date, who made the decision and a description of the decision. This is really helpful as projects progress and decisions are sometimes forgotten or questioned.

These four documents can then be managed on a regular basis, communicated out, followed up on by the Project Manager, and reviewed at upcoming meetings. It makes the finding of information easy instead of trying to remember which weekly status meeting a specific topic was discussed.


  1. actually….i like to take minutes when on phone meetings. it does two things for me….one) forces me to pay attention which is hard sometimes when on the phone and two) does renind folks as to key decisions which I usually highlight in another color. I can’t tell u how many times I go back to minutes and send them out again to folks that either didn’t attend or want a summary or forgot what was decided. no minutes? I disagree!

  2. I think its important to make the minutes mainly coz it helps folks who were not in a meeting know the decisions that were made. I think it also makes people pay more attention to their actions. Tho I do agree actions/Risks need to go in a centralized log coz sifting thru mails to look for actions can be very tedious. If Minutes are sent thru emails, I always recommend a good subject line for emails so that it is easy to find them.
    Minutes should be published the same day else there is no value in recording & publishing them

  3. Oh thank goodness for this. I find them such a waste of time – minutes become an end unto themselves. PM’s need to improve their facilitation and meeting management skills to drive the logs identified. I realize that’s easier said than done but I’m not into ‘death by meeting’ at all.

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