Meeting Notes

Good notetaking is the most essential skill for good documentation. We’ve listed some best practices below but the truth is, the best notes are the notes that help you record accurate information. Use your raw notes (taken during or shortly thereafter the meeting) to create a more readable, thorough document that you can share on your blog, social media account or for an article or assignment. Good notes will give your readers a sense of place. Describe the mood in the room, interesting gestures, long silences. These details will add color to your writing—but they begin with sharp observation skills.

ASSIGNMENT REQUIREMENTS

  • Your meeting notes should be 1-3 pages in length, single spaced, and submitted via the Google Doc attached to your assignment. The correct Google Doc is shared to your email address each time you are assigned to document a meeting. See SAMPLE MEETING NOTES TEMPLATE and EXAMPLE MEETING NOTES below for what to expect.
  • Include at least 10 hyperlinks throughout the text of your notes (a hyperlink is a link in your text that connects readers with an external website (ex. this is a hyperlink)

EXAMPLE MEETING NOTES

Example #1
Example #2
Example #3

TIPS

  1. Read the documentation: Prepare for your assignment by reading any meeting minutes, agendas, transcripts and other documentation associated with your meeting.
  2. Create a system: It’s ok to stick to keywords, phrases and short sentences to maximize the number of points you record during you assigned meeting (you can always add later). Raw notes can be used to create a more thorough submission.
  3. Listen and learn: Make a conscious effort to pay attention during your assignment. Concentrate on being accurate and hearing different perspectives.
  4. Make connections: Notetaking by hand? Weave blank space throughout your notes to backfill with comments, questions and connections that arise throughout meeting. Typing? Use functions like bold and underlined text to group similar sections.
  5. Review and edit: Following the meeting, make sure your writing is legible, any scribbles are clarified and all your “i”s are dotted following the meeting. But don’t wait too long between writing and review. Useful details may fade from your memory over time.

CHECKLIST

  • Count or estimate the number of attendees (not including officials)
  • Log what time the meeting started
  • Include names of presenters at the meeting, including titles and affiliations
  • Describe at least three stated goals of the meeting
  • Describe the main concerns of attendees and why those concerns were raised
  • Describe or list next steps and solutions presented at the meeting
  • Name and quote community members who spoke or presented at the meeting— you may need to approach them after the meeting to ensure you have their names spelled correctly
  • Note features of the room and the overall environment of the meeting
  • Recommended: Take video and/or photos of the meeting. Feel free to move about the room to capture the best images.
  • For digital notes only: Add links to news stories, research reports, previous meetings notes and related governmental websites in your text

MEETING NOTES TEMPLATE

Instructions: Your notes should be between 1-3 single-spaced pages, contain 8-10 hyperlinks and include details for the following prompts:

  • Features of the room and the overall disposition of attendees
  • At least three (3) stated goals of the meeting
  • Comments and stated concerns from attendees (include names)
  • Names and quotes from officials and presenters at the meeting (include titles/ affiliations)
  • Any decisions made (did any votes pass? What’s next?)

**Sample subheads: **Use any of the following subhead suggestions to structure your notes.

  1. The Scene | Description: Nervous energy in the room? Were people excited? Tell us why.
  2. Community Perspective | Description: Public comments and concerns (include names).
  3. Goals and Outcomes | Description: Successes, solutions and/or next steps.
  4. The Debate | Description: Disagreements on the major issues and potential solutions at play.
  5. Policies | Description: Agenda and action items, presented policies, ordinances or amendments.
  6. Follow-up | Description: Should a news outlet or community organization follow up? Tell us why.
  7. Questions | Description: What are your remaining questions after the assignment.

ON ASSIGNMENT NOW?

Call or text 708-820-2154 any time with any questions or concerns. For any non-immediate needs email us directly at documenters@citybureau.org.