Productive meetings don’t happen on their own. From technology issues to conversations that go nowhere, most meeting inefficiencies are avoidable with proper planning.
Meeting notes are a prime example. If you’ve ever tried to take them, you may have struggled to transcribe everything without actually engaging in the meeting. Or, you may have written down a few vague bullet points, hoping it would crystallize into… something.
In either scenario, you’re not taking effective meeting notes––you’re just jotting stuff down.
These ineffective meeting notes may be the byproduct of ineffective meetings. If you want to take better meeting notes, your first job is to make sure you’re hosting effective meetings.
Your second job is to document what happens during meetings in a way that makes it clear for others to act on. Read on to learn how.
Universal best practices for taking meeting notes
✅ Keep a record of all attendees
Listing every participant in the room is less about attendance than it is about transparency. If someone who didn’t attend has concerns about a meeting decision, for example, having an attendee list ready will help you to decipher who had a hand in making it.
✅ Note decisions, outcomes, and action items as they occur
There’s no reason to commit important meeting details to memory. Write down decisions, outcomes, and action items as they happen to guarantee clarity as the meeting progresses––and after it’s over.
✅ Forget about capturing everything
You’re likely to miss out on something important––like the group moving on without making a decision––if you try to capture everything word-for-word. When taking meeting notes, follow the Vital meetings framework and focus on what’s needed to move things forward: decisions, actions, and assignments.
✅ Collaborate in one document
Expecting attendees to take their own notes opens the door to misunderstandings. Instead, give everyone access to the same shared document so there’s one source of meeting note truth. Bonus: Participants can focus less on note taking and more on the issues at hand.
✅ Share meeting notes with all stakeholders
Keeping everyone in the loop means sharing meeting notes with folks who weren’t in the room. Just don’t rely on email as your only channel––Slack and other chat programs are great venues since they provide an immediate and direct way for all vested parties to push things forward.
✅ Create meeting note templates for repeatability
Templates afford you the ability to write meeting notes in a predefined format. Your meeting agenda is the ideal framework for turning one-off notes into a reusable template. The format is less important than making sure templates are shareable, actionable, and prepared in advance.
Meeting note templates and tips for specific teams
Developing templates for different meeting types helps teams extract the most value from their meeting efforts. With the right meeting note template, an effective meeting yields more than action items––it enables teams to capture critical business insights.
Here are tips and templates for taking better meeting notes across three of your most important teams: sales, customer success, and product.
How to take notes for Sales Meetings
Success in sales often comes down to asking the right questions and moving quickly to provide value. The following meeting note templates will help focus your sales meetings so you can uncover what to prioritize moving forward.
Qualifying leads is a time-consuming but necessary step towards building successful customer relationships. Sales teams that simplify the process can make effective judgments without chasing bad-fit deals.
Whether your team qualifies via cold call or during appointments, this sales qualification template streamlines the process by identifying what matters most when evaluating a lead’s potential to become a long term customer.
Most importantly, the template promotes alignment between team members as leads move through the sales funnel.
The right series of sales conversations turn qualified leads into customers. But steering leads through your sales funnel requires more than just talk.
It demands a thoughtful and systematic approach that connects your prospect’s pain points to your organization’s solution. This customizable sales conversation template is designed to do just that.
By balancing discovery questions with relevant information for leads, the template prepares sales teams to strike with purpose––and value––to close more deals.
Sharing and assignment functionality ensure everyone remains in the loop, transforming your sales cycle into a continuous process.
The onboarding process plays a crucial role in customer retention. The more quickly your customers gain value from engaging with your product or service, the more likely they’ll be to stick around for the long haul.
That’s why having a customer onboarding template matters: It puts the focus of these critical meetings on helping customers to establish quick wins.
But proper onboarding isn’t limited to the short term. Once customers define what success means, your team can agree on an implementation path that not only identifies risks, but also unearths opportunities.
By providing accountability and transparency, this meeting template will position your team to drive better results. To ensure team alignment around customer needs––and to set the stage for continued customer success––share it with people who weren’t involved in onboarding.
How to take notes for Customer Meetings
Long-term customer success rests on understanding and responding to your customer’s needs as they evolve. Meetings remain one of the most effective ways to capture customer sentiment.
The sales-to-customer success hand-off is one of the most important transitions in the customer journey. Without alignment between teams, customers are often left to fend for themselves––a recipe for disengagement and eventual churn.
Organizations that get it right anticipate and account for bumps in the road, using hand-off meetings as an opportunity to make the transition as smooth as possible.
This process is much easier with a customer hand-off template. It centralizes the most relevant customer information––unique priorities, work and communication styles, key KPIs––so that teams can understand clients better, achieve objectives faster, and earn trust quicker.
When everyone’s aligned, anyone can pick up right where you left off and take meaningful action where it matters the most. Customize it to fit any transfer.
Understanding customer needs requires checking in at regular intervals to see how they’re doing. When done right, customer check-ins empower your team to collect the information needed to deliver ongoing value.
An effective customer check-in template helps teams achieve this in a few ways. First, it identifies anything that’s changed since the last check-in. Second, it asks customers what isn’t working to determine areas for improvement and risks of churn.
Third, it invites customers to co-create goals before your next check-in––things your team can do to reduce or solve for whatever isn’t working.
This proactive approach enables teams to itemize client issues and pinpoint solutions faster and with more accountability. Share it with colleagues––or better, sync it with your CRM––to provide everyone with a holistic overview of customer relationships and up the odds of continuous improvement.
Customer feedback sessions are vital to making sound product decisions. Whether you're a customer support member, product manager, or part of the UX research team, these meetings can provide unmatched insights into how to improve the user experience.
Acting on this feedback often translates to enhanced customer relationships and increased retention rates. But before your team can take meaningful action, they need to make sure they’re asking the right questions.
Our customer feedback template helps make each customer conversation more meaningful by framing feedback in context. It’s also shareable so your entire organization can better understand the customer perspective and translate these insights into action.
How to take notes for Product Meetings
Successful product development requires a combination of customer feedback, quantitative data, and a well-oiled process. Meetings are often the glue that brings these elements together.
To maximize their effectiveness, we offer three unique templates designed for mission-critical steps to building and shipping features your customers will love.
Your product won’t evolve without user research. And effective user research starts with effective note-taking.
To transform the qualitative insights gained from user research sessions into quantifiable trends, it helps to have a template. Our user research template simplifies the process, empowering your engineering, design, and product teams to drive impactful, positive change.
Whether you’re focusing on design enhancements or trying to refine features, our template can be customized to capture the data you need.
Sprint planning is a team sport. To be successful, product owners, scrum masters, and agile team members must be aligned on everything––from agreeing on achievable goals to turning user stories into tasks.
With so many decisions to make and details to consider, these sessions require robust documentation. Whether you're combing through your backlog to determine what tasks need to be done or fleshing out epics around specific issues, our sprint planning template puts the focus on what you need to move forward.
Sharing capabilities ensure everyone remains on the same page. Best of all, this sprint planning template allows you to turn notes into assignable action items by syncing with the tools you already use.
In an ideal world, product roadmaps prevent product teams from going off-course. In the real world, competing priorities and misaligned objectives can send product strategy sessions into irrelevant and unproductive territory.
To keep product planning on track, your team must find the balance between the big picture and the seemingly small details that impact it. Our customizable product roadmap template helps teams organize their thinking around the high-level, long term vision and the steps needed to make it a reality.
Tailor it to meet your needs and ensure your team remains on path. Assign action items in a few clicks to keep everyone accountable.
Get more meeting notes examples
All of these sample meeting notes templates come from our growing library of note and agenda templates for all sorts of meetings. You can get every template in the library as a Google Doc, Word Doc (.docx), or add them to a free Hugo account (meetings, notes, & tasks — all in one place).