WRITING TO WIN: How to Write Effective Meeting Recaps

By Royce Murcherson, Ph.D.

Royce top pictureHave you ever wondered why people shrink from taking the minutes in a meeting? It can be one of the hardest jobs on a project team or committee because it carries a huge amount of responsibility. The ‘note taker’ is tasked with accurately capturing details from a discussion that could veer into parts unknown. If the team leader or committee chair does not have a clear agenda or lacks the panache to keep the group on point, this could be the new reality and very counterproductive.
In short, the ‘note taker’ must be prepared for how well or how poorly a meeting goes. Minutes constitute an official record of a meeting. Meeting minutes are always distributed to the attendees and at times to other higher ranking management. Take care to write your document as if the CEO of the company, the president of the university, or the head of whatever organization is on the distribution list.

Below is a list of content areas that should be included in your recap.

Meeting Notes Royce
Meeting Topic:
Agenda Topics
Discussion Items and Updates
Next Steps and Responsible Parties
Date of next meeting

Here are a few guidelines to help craft effective a meeting recap that will work in most situations.

Take detailed notes.
Write the recap directly after the meeting. Do not rely on your memory.
Stay away from personal commentary
Record all agenda items, next steps and those responsible, and capture any decisions.
Make the minutes readable. Use headings and bullet points.
If you use a template, be aware that templates vary in style and content. Keep to a conservative design. NO BLING.
Write clearly and succinctly

Manage your tone. Do not write your personality into the document
Keep your document free of grammatical and spelling errors.
Keep the font size to 11 point, the style to a conservative, New Times Roman, Ariel Narrow, or Calibri.

Always remember, meeting recaps should never interpret. They should only report. Meeting recaps should objectively record discussed business and decisions.

For a more expanded discussion on composing effective meeting recaps, see my book, Royce Murcherson, Ph.D.,  The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that Gets Results. (Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013)

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