Catching the Wind: Or why write meeting minutes?

Oaths are but words and words are but wind – Samuel Butler

There are moments during your day when could swear that you’ve already had this conversation before….
facilitated the same discussion before…
and made the same decision before.

You thought the team had moved on.

You might be in a situation where no one agreed with the thinking behind the original decision. On the other hand, it might be because no one else remembers reaching a decision.

There’s no record.  The words that were spoken into the air the previous day have blown away.  This can be frustrating if you are trying to move forward on a time-constrained decision.

If you close a key meeting out without sending out minutes all of your plans might go just as expected. On the other hand, someone could come back the next day and tell you that nothing was settled and the project team is in a ditch struggling to get out.

In general, the more important the meeting, the greater the need for meeting minutes.

If you find yourself in a Gate Review, a Go No Go Decision call or just a call where the team needs to reach a consensus in order to move forward, send out minutes.

Sending out meeting minutes gives the attendees several options:

  1. Agree – and the team can move forward
  2. Correct the minutes – and the team can discuss the difference in opinion
  3. Reject what was recorded altogether.  Oddly enough, this still leaves you ahead because you know you have a complete disconnect instead of a half-hearted mixup.

Sometimes minutes can just provide clarity to what at the time seemed an convoluted conversation.

So remember: The more significant the meeting – the greater the need to capture the outcome and send it to everyone who was invited.

This helps everyone who dialed in and those optional invitees who were triple-booked.

If I forget this rule of thumb, I generally regret it because I am forced to schedule the same group of people to join a conference bridge…
to have the same conversation they had a week or two weeks ago…
or having someone ask me about a decision that has just been made.

Sending out minutes is is not just good practice.  This will save you in meetings, queries and general aggravation.

Have you had any life lessons where you learned that capturing minutes would have been a good idea?  Leave a comment, send me a tweet, my id is jgodfrey.


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