meeting notes

How To Take Better Meeting Notes At Work

We’ve all been there: you finally wrap an hour-long meeting, move onto the next task at hand, and then a few hours later, forget what your next steps and action items are. Since we spend so much of our days in back-to-back meetings, it’s critical that the time we spend in meetings is actually pushing us forward, not hampering growth. That’s why making sure to take detailed meetings notes is critical.

At Hive, we believe nothing is more impressive than an excellently run meeting — and that includes taking great meeting notes too. In this article we will explain what meeting notes are, how they can benefit your team, and how you can take the best notes passible. Let’s dive in.

What Are Meeting Notes?

Meeting notes are exactly what they sound like — notes that speak to the action items discussed and decisions made in a meeting. Ideally, there would be one point-person taking notes and detailing progress throughout the meeting, either on their computer, in a program like Hive, OneNote, Evernote, or by hand.

collaborate in meetings

While taking notes digitally is definitely an easier option (we’re all used to using our laptops to record action items), some people prefer to take notes by hand. Benefits to taking notes by hand can include limited distractions from notifications on your device, increased comprehension, and memory improvement, as handwriting something requires you to spend a few extra seconds processing the words before getting them down on paper. 

However, when you take notes by hand, you’re creating an extra layer of work for yourself — often, once you’ve taken notes by hand, you then need to transcribe them digitally for an email update or follow-up, which creates more work. Ultimately, this comes down to personal preference and if you think the benefits outweigh the extra level of output.

Benefits Of Taking Good Meeting Notes

There are so many benefits of taking good notes during work meetings — especially now, with more people working remotely and following various forms of a distributed workplace. Whether your team is calling in to virtual meetings, getting together in person, or doing some hybrid of the two, meeting notes are essential for keeping everyone informed. Here are 3 of the top ways that notes can help you and your team work better.

Notes prevent information from slipping through the cracks.

It’s impossible for each person from the meeting to remember exactly what was discussed and what their next steps are. Meeting notes help not only individuals understand the actions they need to take, but also help everyone remember what actions others are taking to move the project forward. This will help save time in the future, as you won’t have to spend time refreshing your memory or asking coworkers to clarify next steps.

Notes help recognize future needs and determine next steps.

If you had a set of meeting notes from a prior meeting, that set of notes can help inform the current meeting’s action items and points of discussion. This is why it’s helpful to use a digital note-taking device that groups notes by recurring meetings or campaigns. When you’re working on a project alone or in a small group, you can forget what the macro-level goal of the project or campaign is. Meeting notes are a way to keep track of how the goals evolve over time, dispersing all information on past, current, and future steps.

Notes inform people who may have missed the meeting.

Things come up, and the relevant individuals aren’t always able to attend. With comprehensive notes, you’re able to keep the missing individuals up-to-speed on what was discussed without partaking in a lengthy conversation on the meeting’s contents. It’s most helpful here, once again, when the notes are widely available digitally and can be shared with those who were on the invite. With Hive Notes, all notes can be shared with colleagues with the click of a button.

How to Take Meeting Notes

There are many strategies for taking useful and productive meeting notes. Here are a few of the top tips we’ve gathered for taking great meeting notes.

1. Set outcome goals before the meeting starts.

Developing thorough meeting outcome goals, or problems you want to solve in the meeting, is important for the meeting’s success and the note-taking process. If you’ve got high-level objectives, you’re then able to identify what is important enough to merit a note. This will save you time and energy in the short and long term.

2. Create and share a meeting agenda. 

Agendas are one way to ensure everyone starts the meeting prepared. A good meeting agenda outlines key talking points or topics that will be addressed throughout the course of the meeting. It does require time to make an agenda and share it with participants beforehand, but the trade off is definitely worth it. When you create and share an agenda using Hive Notes For Meetings, it can also serve as a living and breathing document where everyone collaborates and contributes their ideas throughout the meeting.

3. Designate a note-taker.

Figure out who is going to take notes before the meeting starts. It could be as simple as writing “Notetaker: Bob” in the meeting’s description. Realistically, you only need one person to take detailed notes, but if you’re using a collaborative tool like Hive Notes, everyone can contribute ideas in real time.

4. Don’t write everything down.

This sounds counterintuitive, but it goes hand-in-hand with the meeting outcome point we made above. If you’re writing down everything that’s said in the meeting word for word, you’re wasting your time. If you’ve got ideal outcomes already outlined, you can take notes only on the things that relate to those goals. If you’re really pressed for time or need to devote your full attention to the meeting itself, you can also consider using an audio to text converter, which transcribes the entire meeting and saves you from furiously taking notes throughout the meeting. 

5. Assign next-steps the same day.

Never send meeting follow-ups the next day. You’re far more likely to forget something or misunderstand a point you made in your notes if you send follow-ups the next business day. Take the extra 15 minutes to write a follow-up same-day, even if your meeting ends at 9 PM. Your future self will thank you.

6. Store notes in an organized place. 

Sure, taking meeting notes in various Google Drives is fine, but things get lost and old meeting notes can be hard to locate. Instead, use a tool that allows you to store your meeting notes in one central location. Utilizing a tool like Hive Notes or OneNote will help centralize information, decreasing time spent looking for or gathering old notes.

7. Consider using a note-taking tool.

Make your life easier — figure out a tool to use for note-taking. We’ve come a long way from those early days where “digital note-taking” meant opening up a Microsoft Word document and furiously typing as much content as possible. With so many tech developments and collaboration tools, there is now a variety of note-taking software to help you capture information and organize your thoughts, while also staying engaged and walking away with clear next steps.

Common mistakes to avoid when taking meeting notes

Taking notes is not as intuitive as one might think, you want to create a document that can be understood by anyone, including (and sometimes specially) people who were not at the meeting. If you want to know how run a productive meeting, here are some common mistakes to avoid when taking meeting notes: 

1. Writing everything down.

Save your team time by focusing on key takeaways. For example: decisions that were made, action items that were assigned, and next steps that need to be taken.

2. Not being organized.

Standardize your note taking effort by creating a document that follows a format. You might want to include: date and time, agenda, participants names, meeting notes, and action items. Pro-tip: Hive Notes offers templates with all of this information, which can make it easy to get started.

3. Not sharing your notes.

Meeting is done, you have your meeting notes, now what? It’s key to share them with the team so that everyone is on the same page. Pro-tip: If you are hosting a meeting that is on your Hive calendar, once you create a note about that meeting you can share it with everyone invited to the meeting. Hive does offer the option of private notes too, in case there’s something specific that you want to keep only to yourself.

Hive Notes For Meetings

Hive Notes for Meetings is an extension of Hive’s project management software that is available to everyone, whether you subscribe to Hive or not. With Hive Notes For Meetings, you can accomplish all of the steps we outlined above – while boosting productivity and collaboration. It’s a note-taking app like you’ve never seen before. 

One of the coolest things about Hive Notes for Meetings is that it’s not only for Hive customers. This tool can help everyone experience their most productive meetings yet, even if they don’t use Hive. When a note is shared with external meeting participants, they will be redirected to a simple sign in-screen, giving them full access to the note after just a few clicks. Once inside the Note, all meeting participants are able to edit the note, collaborate in real-time, and track tasks even after the meeting ends.

Link to calendar

So what can you do with Hive Notes For Meetings?

  • Create and share an agenda before the meeting starts, and then use it as an outline to take notes and collaborate in real time. 
  • Turn any talking point into a next step, which you can also assign to team members and set a due date for. 
  • Link meeting notes to existing projects in your Hive workspace.  
  • Receive notifications in Hive, prompting you to either take notes or join the meeting 5 minutes before the meeting starts.
  • Link a single note to recurring meetings, so you can easily revisit past notes and track progress since your last meeting.

And if your team does use Hive, you can reap the benefits of having a meeting tool built right into your project management software. Simply make sure you have “Hive Mail” toggled on in your Apps, and then you will have the ability to link any Note to any meeting on your calendar. Check out the Help article here for more details about accessing this tool inside Hive.

Hive Notes For Zoom

If you’ve tried taking notes during a Zoom meeting, you’ve probably experienced the frustration of switching back and forth between tabs as you navigate between your Zoom video and your note-taking tool. Typing in a Google doc is not easy when you’re trying to be present in the meeting, and “cameras on” isn’t quite as impactful when everyone is juggling several windows and not paying attention to the meeting in session.

hive notes app for zoom

That’s where Hive is completely changing the virtual meeting notes experience. With the Hive Notes app for Zoom, anyone who uses Zoom can experience the full power of Hive Notes from right within their Zoom window. When you download the Hive Notes app in the Zoom marketplace, you can create a note, share it with meeting participants, and type collaboratively in real-time. You can also assign action items to meeting participants and share the note via email after the meeting ends, making sure everyone leaves with clear next steps.

Hive Notes is a totally new way to experience meetings, especially during this new era of remote work and Zoom meetings. And the best part is that it’s totally free, forever, regardless if you’re a Hive Teams user. With Hive Notes, you’ll be on your way to your most productive meetings yet. 

In Conclusion

At the end of the day, meetings are a (sometimes unwelcome) part of life. Let’s make the most of them by ensuring that we are organized, following up successfully, and saving future us as much time as possible. If you want to learn more about Hive and Hive Notes, take a two week free test drive of Hive here.