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The Ultimate Guide to Remote Meeting Notes

A lot of people assume that meeting notes and meeting minutes are the same thing (which means they are interchangeable), but that’s far away from the truth.

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Some of the biggest mysteries in life have left mankind baffled for decades. What happened to Amelia Earhart? Do Aliens exist? Who built Stonehenge? What is the difference between meeting notes and meeting minutes?

Yes, we get it. In this post-pandemic world, virtual meetings have become a crucial part of the remote worker’s life. Since so many of us spend so much time in front of our screens, it’s not unusual for people to forget what was discussed the moment the meeting ends (even if they say they were paying attention). But not remembering the essentials of a meeting can make you inefficient and unproductive.

So how does one stay on top of the game?

Presenting two terms that you didn’t know the difference between: meeting notes and meeting minutes.

What are meeting minutes?

Meeting minutes are detailed, formal transcripts of your meeting. These transcripts include action items, decisions made, and what the next steps will be. These meeting minutes are then shared with everyone after the meeting ends so that they can be referenced later on.

And…what are meeting notes? 🗒️

Meeting notes are the key bullet points you document during a meeting. They could contain anything from action items to ideas that were brainstormed during the meeting. There’s no one correct way to take down meeting notes, but as long as they’re well organised and easy to read, you’re doing a great job. You’ve won half the battle already.

What’s the real difference between meeting notes and meeting minutes? 🎪

A lot of people assume that meeting notes and meeting minutes are the same thing (which means they are interchangeable), but that’s far away from the truth. Meeting notes are informal and more of a quick recap of the meeting (read: bullet points), and you can write them without anyone’s approval.

Meeting minutes, on the other hand, are more formal. The quickest way to explain it is as a ‘pre-approved documentation of a meeting that lists every little thing that happened’. They follow a set template and you need to get sign-offs from team leads and higher ups before they’re sent out to everyone.

What meeting notes need to include?

Before you pull out those virtual pens and start jotting down notes, you’d need a quick lesson that takes you back to the basics. But don’t worry, that’s what we’re here for.  Here’s a quick checklist of all the things you need to note while taking meeting notes:

Time and date 📅

Seems very matter-of-fact, doesn't it? You’d be surprised how many people forget the most important thing while taking down meeting notes. Noting down the time and date of the meeting helps build context while details of key projects are being shared.

Meeting Attendees 🧑‍💼

Very straightforward, but this is a great way of remembering the key stakeholders of a conversation when there’s a huge team meeting happening.

Items on the meeting agenda 🎯

Think of this as the blueprint of your meeting notes. It’s a repository of action items and who they were assigned to. You can start a new section for every topic that was discussed in the meeting. It makes it easier for people to understand them when they look back at your notes.

Questions and decisions 🎙️ 

There’s a very high chance that more than one person might have the same question during a meeting. Noting them down they pop up the first time saves time and gives clarity to everyone on the team.

What meeting minutes need to include ✅

Knowing the difference between meeting minutes and meeting notes is great, but you also need to learn how to write them. Unlike meeting notes, which are simple, brief notes, meeting notes are formal transcripts of meetings. Which means that meeting minutes include a more detailed list of things to include (apart from the ones already mentioned in the previous checklist):

Meeting purpose 🧠

A meeting can have many purposes, you could want to check in with your team or sync up for a new product launch, but it’s crucial to include this in the meeting minutes. This ensures that when meeting attendees are looking back at old meeting minutes or sharing them with people who couldn’t make it, the clear purpose of the meeting is illustrated. 

Next meeting’s date and time 📅

For meetings that are recurring, you should add when the next meeting will be, near the end of the meeting minutes. Adding the date and time of the meeting saves you the hassle of sending everyone a follow up email invite. It’s also helpful for everyone who couldn’t be present for the previous meeting.

Next meeting’s roles 🤹

Every meeting comes with assigned roles that need to be typically rotated. Some of these included the organiser, host, note-taker and time-keeper; so it’s a good decision to have these important roles pre-assigned so that team members get enough time to prepare for their new responsibilities.

Supporting documents 🛍️

The last thing to include in the meeting minutes are the supporting documents discussed during the meeting. This is important because if one of the action items or talking points reference a particular document, you will have it ready at your disposal.

What are the advantages of taking down meeting notes? ✏️

Yes, writing meeting notes can feel like a bit of a task, but the benefits of writing great notes are worth the effort. Look at it this way: it’s a way for you not to forget the key points of discussion in a meeting (not everyone is blessed with eidetic memory, some of us have the memory of a goldfish). Here are some more reasons you should be transcribing a meeting as it goes on:

They help people who couldn’t attend the meeting. 🪂

There’ll always be some people who can’t make it to a meeting because they are busy or stuck somewhere else (or maybe they’re just exhausted), this way they can stay up to speed by looking at the notes and not scramble around to find out what they missed. A recap of your previous meeting notes can also help everyone properly feel like they are on the same page.

They document the key takeaways. 💡

We all wish we had the memory of an African Elephant, but that’s a superpower only few people are blessed with. Meeting notes help us get a fraction of that superpower. They create a quick recap of the meeting so that everyone is up to speed. Like we’ve said before, memories might fade, but notes last a lifetime.

They are very easy to search through. 🕵️

Plus, you can use variable colours, fonts, headings, and text sizes to stress importance or enhance organisation.

How does Dive help? 🎉

Yes, trying to remember everything that we talked about while taking down meeting notes and meeting minutes can feel overwhelming. But never fear, cause Dive is here. We help track your meeting notes for you.

Dive also helps you create collaborative agendas which you can share with your meeting attendees in advance. Dive then also allows you to create meeting minutes and meeting notes, simplifying the task by including templates, attendees’ names, and the date and time of the meeting.

Some concluding thoughts 🎳

Whether you’re trying to take down meeting notes or meeting minutes, if you follow the tips mentioned above, you will be noting them like an expert. Plus, by taking advantage of tools like Dive, you can ensure that your meeting notes and meeting minutes capture meetings in a way that you make them worth everyone’s time.


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