They say we should decline meetings without an agenda because the agenda defines the planned course of action and what is aimed to be achieved. After planning the event, sticking to the agenda, and producing the desired results, meeting organizers sometimes forget to make their meeting memorable.
It is safe to say that we hold too many meetings. Our working days are packed full with head-to-head meetings and we cannot make it in time from one room to the next. I sometimes wish that bi-locality has already been invented in order to be in two places at the same time.
Writing minutes can be a pain for the meeting organizer. Since those people having lots of meetings are often the organizers themselves, their time to write, distribute, review, and re-work minutes is scarce or close to non-existing.
Organizers will come up with a not-so-great idea about how the outcome gets documented: All participants should take their own notes. How many times have you read other people’s notes and asked yourself ‚Was I really in the same room?‘
For the organizer not taking the time to write minutes can only mean that the meeting did not produce any valuable decisions, tasks, or information. In that case, you as a participant should think about whether you have invested your precious time wisely and whether you should accept future invitations from the same organizer.
Sometimes, the organizer will find time to provide some kind of minutes but only days or weeks afterwards. Most people cannot even remember what was discussed during a meeting only a few hours ago. When the first version of the minutes is distributed days or even weeks later, then how probable is it that no one actually remembers anything about the meeting?
Since no one remembers the outcome of a meeting without minutes, it has actually never taken place.
If you are an organizer who does not find that documenting the outcome is worthwhile then maybe your meeting is not worthwhile in the first place. Please, for everyone’s sake, do not hold it! If you still do, do not expect that the decisions taken will be kept or that the participants will actually do those tasks that you think you have given them.
If you are the organizer, show that your meeting matters to you – write down the important results – not only supporting your participants but helping yourself to get your thoughts straight and to set your mind free for your next tasks. Reserve time to write the minutes on the same day. They should be distributed for review within one working day only to those participants who have invested their precious time for you. Remember that sending minutes does not mean that they are approved by the participants. For approving your minutes or for sending in feedback, allow them the same number of days you needed to provide the document.
If you are a participant, ask at the beginning of the meeting until when the organizer will provide the minutes. The answer will allow you to make an informed decision whether you will invest your time wisely.