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5 Ways to Create Better Meeting Summaries

The way we work has changed. Particularly over the past two years, there’s been a considerable shift towards remote working and virtual collaboration. This has tested the boundaries of not just our workflow capabilities, but how we communicate.

One of those essential ways we communicate in work settings is meetings. Regardless of how our workflows have changed, meetings will never become obsolete. In fact, with increasing collaboration – particularly virtual collaboration – meetings are even more essential.

An integral part of meetings however, is ensuring all the essential points, decisions, decision-makers, and assigned tasks are noted. All of this is documented in a meeting summary.

But streamlining the meeting summary process into one that captures all salient information in one concise and easily readable document is not as easy as it sounds – and if not done properly, can take time. Too much time.

Here are five ways to create better meeting summaries that are concise, efficient, and actionable.

Meeting minutes vs. meeting summaries

A lot of people get meeting minutes and meeting summaries confused, which is reasonable. So, before we continue, let’s make a few clarifications.

Meeting minutes: Meeting minutes are detailed documents of all that was discussed during the meeting, who was present, and what decisions were made. This document is usually quite long and while the salient points can be highlighted, it’s not a document that everyone in the office will want to read (or even read at all).

However, for some purposes, detailed and accurate meeting minutes are not just necessary, but legally required. One such example is a Directors’ meetings where, in many regions, minutes are a legally required document in order to keep an incorporation status.

But for inter-company circulation, or for clarification with clients or partners, meeting minutes can sometimes be overkill or not the best format for sharing key points.

Meeting summaries: A meeting summary is a concise document of no more than a page or two that summarizes only the salient points of the meeting, including decisions made, tasks assigned and to whom and when they’re due, and other pertinent information. It is essentially a summary of meeting minutes. But there’s a bit more to it than just that.

Why meeting summaries are important

Even in modernized (often virtual) meetings, meeting summaries are important because they act as a report of the meeting, delivering crucial information to all parties involved, including those at the meeting and those who aren’t in attendance.

Meeting summaries help foster team accountability and keep everyone on the same page.

But not all meeting summaries are the same, and nor are they all of the same quality. A meeting summary that takes too long to prepare or doesn’t hit on all the points needed, is an ineffective meeting summary. And that costs everyone.

Here are five ways to create better meeting summaries that are clear, concise, actionable, and above all, effective.

5 ways to create better meeting summaries

1. Build a meeting summary template

Creating a meeting summary from scratch every time is tedious and often ineffective work.

Instead, try to build meeting summary templates that are focused on the type of meeting you’ll be hosting (Directors’, client meeting, internal meeting, etc.) and that hit on the right points.

It’s not uncommon for a company to use multiple business meeting summary templates and in fact, using a meeting template that is tailored to the type of meeting helps keep expectations clear.

Which leads us to our next point.

2. Determine clear expectations

Even before the meeting starts, expectations of what the team wants or needs to accomplish should be clear. This will not only help focus the meeting, and therefore keeps it on track, but also helps with the after meeting summary.

When meeting expectations are clear, the meeting summary will also be clear and straightforward, focusing on the outcomes rather than the path to getting there (which can often be long and circuitous).

3. Keep the meeting summary concise and easily scannable

A meeting summary that is pages long and disorganized is not a meeting summary at all. Keeping meeting summaries concise helps to drill down to the main points and action items from the meeting.

Better yet, when creating an effective meeting summary, use headings that are appropriate to topics and the people involved, actionable items and who is responsible, and clear expectations. Format it using headings, subheadings, bullet points, and highlights where needed.

This keeps the meeting summary short and to the point.

4. Consider a voice recorder

As mundane as it sounds, a voice recorder is always a good option.

It can be used in addition to a notetaker, but can also suffice on its own. When using a voice recorder however, a transcription service may be necessary to capture everything verbatim, while also time-stamping and identifying speakers. But this takes additional time and cost.

The good news is this doesn’t need to be accomplished with an antiquated digital recorder and manual transcription service. If you’re using a virtual meeting platform, you can often export meeting transcriptions after the meeting is done.

5. Use AI to create meeting summaries

Looking for a more modern way to create meeting summaries? You’re not alone. Creating meeting summaries with old systems just doesn’t cut it anymore. Delegating a notetaker and the precious time it takes to review notes and create meeting summaries is time consuming and dull.

As a result, a new solution is emerging – and it’s one that uses AI to create accurate meeting summaries in human-like language.

Creating AI meeting summaries has multiple benefits, including:

  • Eliminating the need to have a designated notetaker
  • Reducing the amount of meeting participants required
  • Automating a manual task and freeing up your team’s time
  • Cutting down on administrative tasks and creating a better employee experience

A good AI meeting summarization tool will be able to integrate with your virtual meeting platforms (like Teams, Zoom, Webex, etc.) as well as your PM tools – allowing tasks to be created and assigned based on the meeting discussions.

It will also be able to highlight key themes and important topics, while leaving out those side bar conversations or redacting sensitive information.

Using AI to create your meeting summaries saves considerable time and frustration, both of which are costly. By augmenting your meetings with the power of AI, your team will be able to stay focused on the conversation at hand, knowing the AI will capture what matters most.

The future of modern meetings

In today’s modern workplace, meetings are still essential. But that doesn’t mean they have to be inefficient or ineffective.

Modern meetings include using AI meeting summarization tools that streamline the process, improve employee experience, and move companies forward.

Learn more about how Charli AI Meetings can help your team move meetings – and meeting summaries – into the future.

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