Context: I’ve been conducting user interviews with a number of PMs and people in cross-functional jobs while working on a product in the area of office collaboration.
Meetings take up a large portion of the time for PMs. But, when I bring up “meeting notes” in conversation, people immediately react with distaste and say, “I don’t take notes!” I then feel compelled to change the subject.
The plot changes at the very end.
I usually end the conversation by offering to assist (if they need anything). They would typically conclude the conversation by saying, “Let me send you follow-ups via email.” That baffles me. And that’s exactly what I meant when I mentioned that meeting notes should only include results of the meeting, such as decisions that everyone should be aware of, follow-ups, action items, or future steps.
Is “meeting notes” a derogatory term?
Is there a more appropriate phrase to describe “meeting notes”?
Do you record meeting minutes, including action items and next steps?
This is the impression I have. When I take notes like that, I don’t feel like I’m “engaged” with my stakeholders. I typically bring a developer along to provide input and ask the developer to take notes. Devs appreciate being in conversations with stakeholders and I’m freed up to engage the stakeholders without stopping to type up the last five minutes of discussion.
That is precisely my point. It’s remarkable that it hasn’t just happened once, but rather several times. It always gets the same feedback: “I don’t take meeting notes.” And I lived by this after serving as a PM myself: Is a meeting really worthwhile if it didn’t produce any results?
A few folks also said that they have a PgM or Analyst do this on their behalf during meetings. That has surprised me a little bit as well.
Simply put, this made me question if this is a more widespread phenomenon.
A note-taker is typically not permitted to participate actively in meetings and is not expected to do so. In the worst-case scenario, it’s just an elevated secretarial job. PMs frequently serve as meeting facilitators or presenters, which involves conducting a lot of information-sharing and/or information-receiving. I can understand how someone who actively participates would be offended by some variations of your question; it could imply that you have no idea what they do or why they are even in the room, let alone how they fit into the team as a whole. You wouldn’t inquire about a manager’s meeting notes because that is obviously not their responsibility.
Even sending out action items, which I typically think is a waste of time outside of extremely high-profile meetings and just another way to generate email spam, is typically the responsibility of a project/program manager or one of the more junior attendees. Nobody wants their duties to be viewed as subordinate, and product managers might grow very frustrated of being confused with program or project managers.
Why meeting minutes are even pertinent to your work is a mystery to me. Meeting notes are a solution, not a problem that must be fixed for the customer. The objective is to retain important information and any necessary actions. Larger actions are probably being recorded since quick actions should generally be carried out right away. But, “meeting notes” rarely record these actions in a location or manner in which I’m likely to find or use them.
In particular, if you’re conducting generic user interviews, I would put more emphasis on the user need than a specific solution.
No, the term “meeting notes” is not inherently offensive. However, some people may have negative associations with taking or reviewing notes or may feel that it is not their responsibility to do so. It’s important to remember that everyone has their own approach to work and communication, and it’s possible that some people may have a negative reaction to the term for personal reasons.
That being said, taking meeting notes can be an important part of project management and communication. It allows for a record of decisions, action items, and other important details that may need to be referenced later on. If you find that some team members are resistant to taking or reviewing meeting notes, it may be helpful to have a conversation about the importance of clear communication and the role that notes can play in ensuring that everyone is on the same page.
It’s also important to note that not all meetings require detailed notes, and it’s up to the discretion of the project manager to determine what level of notetaking is appropriate for each meeting. Some meetings may only require a brief summary of key points, while others may require more detailed notes to ensure that important information is captured.
It’s possible that some people may misunderstand what you mean by “meeting notes” and assume that you are referring to a detailed transcript of the entire meeting, which can be time-consuming and potentially unnecessary. Offering to help and summarizing the key outcomes of the meeting, such as decisions, action items, and next steps, can be a more effective way to communicate the important information to the team.
If someone offers to send follow-ups via email, it may be helpful to clarify what you meant by “meeting notes” and explain that you are looking for a summary of the key outcomes rather than a detailed transcript. You can also offer to help with the follow-up email by providing a summary of the key points from the meeting and highlighting any action items or next steps that need to be taken.
Ultimately, it’s important to find a communication style that works for both you and your team members. Some people may prefer more detailed notes, while others may prefer a brief summary. By being clear about your expectations and offering to help, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.
It is not humiliating. It seems strange to me that someone would think that way. Effective meeting management, including the agenda, discussion notes, and action items, is essential for PdM success. I prefer well-structured discussions over ones that are improvised or “winged.”
Would “meeting minutes” be more appealing to your audience?
Like others have said, I make note of action items (and accompanying talking points). I use Confluence as a PM and Software Team Lead to exchange action items in a checklist manner, and Notebook for more spontaneous action items. I go over the action items each morning and try to tick off as many as I can.
In response to your query, “meeting notes” are not demeaning; rather, they are useless if they don’t offer anything beyond the act of writing them.
Not sure why they are but continue doing them. I currently work with a group of PMs and at the end of every meeting I ask if someone can summarize…. Total crickets, nobody can answer. Meeting notes help.
I can relate to you because I used to work in project management. Personally, I like to write down action items and send them through email to the appropriate people after meetings. As a product manager, I have found that no one reacts to me when I do this.
I tried including a few slides in the “PO/PM Update” area before and after the Sprint Review to let key stakeholders know if there was anything that still needed to be done. Nevertheless, this backfired since it made them appear unprofessional in front of others.
As a result, I now maintain a Wiki labelled “Follow Up” or “Open Items” for each project or product, which I go over during brief but frequent 1:1 meetings. Since I gave them the link, the accountable counterparts will update that page if they make a choice or learn of new information. Regrettably, for some who did not take this seriously, this Wiki page will serve as a crucial reminder to them that the development team is not in charge of any delays brought on by their lack of judgement or requirements.