Every company or organization conducts meetings to discuss on certain topics, issues or development. There’s always a person who is tasked to take note of the key points that the meeting has discussed or achieved. And that person happens to be you. Whether you are the designated secretary or was asked to, making a summary of the meeting does not require too much hard work. However, there are certain formats that you need to follow so your summary is understandable and efficient.
Meeting summaries and minutes of the meeting are quite similar in nature. It basically means summarizing the details of what the meeting has accomplished. The difference of the two documents is that meeting summaries are less formal compared to minutes of the meeting. There is a format in minutes of the meeting that has to be followed precisely. However for meeting summaries, it’s more lax in its format. But still you need to put the correct information in both documents to avoid errors.
Basically, having a meeting summary is for the people to remember the meeting and to keep track on the certain points that have already been discussed. It exists to record the highlights of the meeting proceedings such as the decisions that has been made (like motions, votes, etc.), plans for the future, identifying problems or issues and resolving them, reporting accomplishments of the company or organization for the past month or quarter, etc.
It is also used as a track record to see who are the people that participated in the meeting and as a source of information and reference for those who were absent during the meeting to know what tasks they were assigned to do and such. However for this article, it will focus more on making meeting summary than minutes of the meeting.
Now that you know why having a meeting summary is useful and important, let’s get down to business. Here are a few tips to help you write a meeting summary.
When writing a summary, make sure you already know what will be the agenda of the meeting. If there will be a main agenda to accomplish, familiarize what are the important details or discussions to be tackled. Ask the one who presides the meeting if minutes of the meeting should be taken or not. If you need to, accomplish the minutes of the meeting first. You can get your reference for your summary from the minutes. Just make sure to prepare all the tools you need to take down notes for your summary:
Meetings usually start when the group chair will formally announce that the meeting has started. Once the meeting has started, the first thing to accomplish is to do a roll call. Call out the names (from your list) of those who will participate in the meeting. Mark their names if they’re absent or present. If you have a copy of the past meeting summary with you, indicate the points that has been written down to remind the group of what topics they need to discuss that they were unable to do during the last one.
Once the agenda has been discussed, dedicate your 100% attention to the points that the participants said. Avoid any distractions. Even if you used a cassette recorder to record the meeting’s proceedings, it’s important to be listen carefully in the meeting to avoid any confusion once you’ve listened to the recording later. There might be instances that the recordings will get lost or the sound is garbled, so don’t just solely rely on the the recorder. Tape recorders are there to serve you as back-up.
Aside from just listening, your role as making the meeting summary is to take down notes. Of course, you don’t necessarily need to list down everything that happened in the meeting (such as someone had a coughing fit or someone spilled their coffee on their clothes), but as mentioned above, list down the important key points that has been discussed.
List down the people who spoke up, who proposed ideas, who voice out their objections and agreements over a decision, the decisions that everyone has agreed to, the issues that has been resolved; those kind of things. As much as possible, be objective in your note taking. Don’t be shady over someone’s ideas or opinions that he or she expressed. Write down the ideas he or she proposed. If this seems confusing here’s an example of how to write it:
Graham suggested that the budget of improving the office’s facility should be spent on new chairs. Terry, Michael and Carol agreed to his suggestion. However, Eric objected to this suggestion. Eric said to use the money to replace the old photocopier. John and Jones agreed to this. George, (the group chair) made everyone vote between the chairs and photocopier. Graham’s suggestion won via unanimous decision.
Avoid writing this:
Graham suggested that the budget of improving the office’s facility should be spent on new chairs. (I personally agree with him. Our chairs are absolutely the worst. They need to be chucked out.) Michael, Terry and Carol agreed. Just as everything is going well, snotty Eric opposed this idea passionately. He said the chairs are alright, it’s the photocopier that needs to be replaced. John and Jones murmured their agreement Graham and Eric then argued on which suggestion is better. George, the group chair, then let us vote on where should we spend the money. In the end, Graham’s suggestion won. Graham has a smug look on his face and Eric shut up, sulking.
Your notes will be your reference once you start writing your meeting summary later.
After the meeting has adjourned, write down the meeting summary as soon as possible while the information from the meeting is still fresh in your mind. First, read and review the notes you have taken. If you were also tasked to write the minutes, review the and compare the information you wrote. If you want to be accurate with your information, review the meeting that you recorded. Identify the relevant themes in the meeting.
Below are some format samples for you to follow if you want to be certain that your work is correct.
Now that you have gathered your notes for your summary, this is the part you need to organize your summary that you will pass to your group chair. This will make your summary neat and understandable.
Once you’ve familiarize yourself with this format, it’s time to review the summary you wrote.
Once you’ve finished writing the meeting summary, review it first before passing it to the group chair for review and affirmation. Here are the important points to be considered once you’ve written down your summary:
By doing this, you avoid doing a sloppy work over an easy task. You are confident that your meeting summary is good enough for everyone’s expectation. Your group chair may even praise you for a job well done. Your co-workers will trust you enough that you do a great job in your assigned task. Making meeting summaries are easy enough to achieve it once you know how to do it.
We hope you found our article on meeting summary examples to be informative as well as helpful especially when you will be tasked on making a meeting summary for your own company.