Who’s reading those meeting notes?

Every single “how to run effective meetings” thing ever says there should always be a dedicated note taker. But how often do those notes get read? Who is reading them? Anyone?

Electing a dedicated note taker on every meeting is a big and annoying investment, so it better be worth it. And for the vast majority of meetings, it’s not. Those notes will never be seen by human eyes again.

My rule: only elect a scribe for a meeting if these three things are true:

  1. (At least) one person definitely needs those notes
  2. You know who that person is
  3. You know why they need the notes

Otherwise, the scribe is spending their valuable time solving a problem nobody has (and no, “someone may want them!” is not a valid reason to spend that person’s time). So either let the would-be scribe be a normal participant, or have one less person on the meeting.

On the other hand, if people do often require notes afterwards, that in itself is a smell worth investigating. What do they really need out of those notes? Would a one sentence decision statement suffice? Should they have been on the meeting? Should the meeting itself have been an async discussion so they could contribute?

And if you really honestly do need full meeting notes on a regular basis, try a meeting format that is self-documenting(ish), like Talk-Type-Read-Review or heck, even Lean Coffee.

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