As long as you are stating objectives and making decisions at your meetings, you’ve got to take efficient notes.
By limiting meetings to decision-making, you’ve already done a fantastic job at being more efficient. Congratulations!
Now, we should review note-taking. There are a million methods out there, and everyone has their preferred style. But the one I will discuss is the simplest, most effective, and most enduring method of note-taking my teams and clients have ever used. It is especially useful when there is turnover or new people introduced to the team who need to get on board quickly.
It involves using the D.A.R.T. Method(TM) for deliberate planning and applying it to meeting minutes instead of project planning. It’s a method notable for NOT including a bunch of extraneous info that might have been brought up at the meeting. Instead, you explain rationale behind the decisions for posterity (which is what the note-taking is supposed to be for, anyway).
Decision – One sentence about the decision made.
Authority – One sentence about who has the authority to oversee or execute on the decision. It must be someone’s name. Someone is personally responsible. It should never be the team, or the company, or a group, or a title.
Rationale – One sentence about why the decision solves the problem at hand or supports the overall goal of the project. This is the absolute heart of this note-taking method, and this one sentence is exactly why you don’t need any other extraneous discussions from the meeting captured. Make sure it’s ONE sentence. Avoid the tendency to write a bunch of clarifying points here.
Timeline – One sentence about timeline – pretty self-explanatory.
If you can reduce all meeting notes to these FOUR sentences, one for each letter of the acronym, you’re golden.
Imagine joining a new team in the middle of a project, and you were handed a simple table or spreadsheet that had an inventory of all decisions made about the project, why they were made, who you need to talk to about it, and what the timelines associated with those decisions are.
Wouldn’t that be the BEST present any new team member could ever have?