The Difference Between Note Taking and Meeting Minutes

Notetaking is personal and informal, capturing individual thoughts during events, while meeting minutes are formal records documenting the proceedings, decisions, and action items of a meeting. Notes are for the note-taker, whereas minutes are shared with participants and stakeholders. Meeting minutes are structured, objective, and serve purposes like documentation, legal compliance, communication, accountability, future reference, and strategic planning. Reelay offers an AI solution for generating secure, corporate-level minutes for every meeting at no extra cost, enhancing transparency and efficiency.

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Note-taking and Meeting Minutes serve different purposes and are used in distinct contexts. Here are the key differences between the two:


Note-taking: Notes are typically taken for personal reference or to capture individual thoughts, ideas, and key points during various situations, such as lectures, brainstorming sessions, or casual conversations.

Meeting Minutes: Minutes are official records of a meeting’s proceedings. They serve as a formal document that outlines what transpired during a meeting, including decisions made, actions to be taken, and who is responsible for those actions.


Note-taking: Notes are informal and are primarily for the individual’s use. They may not follow a specific format, and the content is subjective to the note-taker’s preferences.

Meeting Minutes: Minutes are formal documents that follow a structured format. They are often expected to include specific elements, such as the meeting agenda, attendees, key discussion points, decisions, and action items.


Note-taking: The audience for notes is usually the person who took them. Notes may not be shared unless the note-taker chooses to do so.

Meeting Minutes: Minutes are meant to be shared with all meeting participants and possibly other stakeholders who were not present. They provide an official record of the meeting’s proceedings.


Note-taking: Notes may include personal observations, thoughts, and key points that the individual finds relevant. The content is often selective and subjective.

Meeting Minutes: Minutes focus on capturing the essential aspects of the meeting, such as decisions, discussions, and action items. They aim to provide an accurate and objective account of what occurred.


Note-taking: Notes are typically taken in real-time during an event or immediately afterward.

Meeting Minutes: Minutes are compiled after the meeting, usually by a designated individual (e.g., scribe, etc.) or an AI assistant, and are often distributed to participants shortly after the meeting.


DOCUMENTATION: Meeting minutes serve as an official record of what transpired during a meeting. They document discussions, decisions, and action items, providing a historical record that can be referred to in the future.

LEGAL AND COMPLIANCE: In some cases, meeting minutes are legally required for certain types of organizations or meetings. They can be crucial in demonstrating that proper procedures were followed, decisions were made in a transparent manner, and compliance requirements were met.

COMMUNICATION: Meeting minutes help communicate the key points and outcomes of a meeting to those who were present as well as to individuals who may not have attended. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and understands the decisions and action items.

ACCOUNTABILITY: By recording action items and assigning responsibilities, meeting minutes help hold individuals accountable for their tasks. This accountability is essential for ensuring that decisions made during the meeting are implemented.

REFERENCE FOR FUTURE MEETINGS: Meeting minutes can be referenced in future meetings to provide context, track progress on action items, and avoid repeating discussions. They contribute to continuity and consistency in decision-making.

MEMORY AID: People may not remember all the details of a meeting, especially if it was lengthy or if some time has passed. Meeting minutes serve as a memory aid, helping participants recall important points and discussions.

PLANNING AND STRATEGY: Meeting minutes can be used for planning and strategic purposes. They provide insights into past discussions, decisions, and the thought processes that led to certain actions, which can be valuable for future planning.

AUDITING AND REVIEW: In organizations, especially larger ones, meeting minutes can be subject to auditing and review. They provide an audit trail of decision-making processes and actions taken, contributing to transparency and accountability.

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