The Best Way to Capture Actionable Items in Meeting Minutes

The Best Way to Capture Actionable Items in Meeting Minutes

Jul 14, 2023

Getting things done can sometimes be easier than figuring out what needs to get done and writing it all down. Identifying actionable items is how you move on to the next step in your project workflow. Once you have a list of actionable items, you can assign them to individual team members and check in on their progress as the due date arrives.

Here’s what you need to know about identifying action items in your meeting minutes, along with five key tips for writing action items down.

What Are Actionable Items?

Actionable items: Luan saying AND ACTION from The Loud House GIF

The term “actionable item” can refer to a few different things depending on the context. Although an action item list is similar to a to-do list, it usually covers a more immediate time frame and has a greater sense of urgency.

An actionable item could be:

  • In sales, it may refer to something that needs to be followed up on, such as an unread email or a missed call from a prospective lead
  • In business and investing, it refers to actions that are feasible or realistic for an organization to focus on in the short-term
  • In project management, it refers to action items, or tasks that have been brought up in a meeting that you’ll need to return to later

Tasks that are out of your hands — such as waiting for a client to get back to you about a project — aren’t actionable items. Your action plan should focus on tasks that you and your team members can control.

5 Steps to Creating Actionable Items

Creating clear, well-defined action items is a key part of project management. Tasks that are too vague or too ambitious are less likely to get done. Here are five steps to writing action items in a way that increases your chance of a successful outcome.

1. Make the Action Specific (and Realistic!)

Action items aren’t meant to be essays! They should be short and snappy. Ideally, each item is a distinct task that uses action verbs to describe what needs to get done. Think “Run [x] test to find out why the mobile app isn’t working” rather than, “Find out what’s wrong with the mobile app and fix it.”

Action items shouldn’t balloon into entire projects, either. If the scope of a task is getting too big, break it down into smaller tasks that can be done one at a time. Smaller action items are more likely to be completed on schedule, and you can always create more action items later as new elements of the project come into view.

2. Assign Each Item to a Team Member

Having multiple team members involved in a project means you can get more done by sharing the workload, but it’s easy for individuals to drop the ball if you don’t have a clear understanding of who’s responsible for each project task.

Have you ever been in a meeting and said “Let’s do the thing!” and then the thing never got done because no one person put their hand up to do it?

You can reduce the risk of this happening by ensuring that each item has an assignee who’s in charge of moving it forward. That doesn’t mean multiple team members can’t have a role to play, but an action item without anyone’s name on it is an item that will get swept under the rug.

3. Set a Time Constraint

A list of actionable items isn’t a wish list or a project roadmap. Sure, there may be some tasks that need to happen in a certain order, but in general, your action item list should consist of tasks that you can get started on right away. Include tasks like “Book venue for awards ceremony,” not “Have a team retreat in six months.”

Be sure to set a due date or deadline for each task so that the assignee knows when they need to have it completed by; otherwise, it may fall by the wayside. You can also set priority levels so team members know which action items to focus on first.

If a task requires additional discussion before it can happen, it probably isn’t urgent enough to be an actionable item.

4. Take Good Notes

Always write your action items down, ideally in a summary or recap at the end of your meeting notes so you can add them to your task management software later. This will save you from having to rewind your Zoom recording to put a mysterious doodle into context or find out which part of the project a task is referring to.

However, identifying and writing down actionable tasks can be distracting in a meeting. Instead of listening and participating in conversation, one person is stuck taking notes and following up with an email summary afterwards.

Instead, use a tool like Anchor AI to take notes for you. Anchor AI uses artificial intelligence to create meeting notes with action items parsed out so you can easily add them to your to-do list. Note-taking duties have officially been outsourced!

5. Track Progress Metrics

Finally, use task management software to track the progress of actionable tasks using measurable data like completion rates and time to completion. Pay attention to these metrics to help you identify roadblocks and streamline your operations.

Take some time at your next meeting to review your action item list and see which tasks were completed and which weren’t. Remove tasks that are unlikely to be completed or are no longer relevant and replace them with more timely, actionable items.

If items continue to be overlooked or forgotten, are there any takeaways you can apply to your next meeting so you have more success next time?

Examples of Actionable Items

To make it easy to generate action items during your next team meeting, use an action item template, such as the one below:

  • Action item:
  • Creation date:
  • Due date:
  • Assignee:
  • Description:

Making note of both the creation date and the due date ensures that you can track how long it takes to go from identifying the task to completing it. Adding an assignee makes the task someone’s responsibility, while the description field provides detail or context. Another optional field is priority level to tell you how urgent the task is.

Here’s an example of an action item for a software development team:

  • Action item: Create user experience survey
  • Creation date: 06/12/2023
  • Due date: 06/30/2023
  • Assignee: Josie B.
  • Description: Write a list of questions to include in our annual survey to find out what users like and dislike about our app

This action item has a single task owner who has just over two weeks to complete the task. It’s timely, specific, and has a clear purpose without being too broad.

Use Anchor AI to Identify Actionable Items

Woman saying Your time starts now GIF

Actionable items are discrete tasks that come up during board meetings, project kickoff meetings, and other types of meetings. Often, they’re too big to be handled right away, but not big enough to form a project of their own. Writing down actionable items in a standardized format makes it easy to come back to them later.

Use Anchor AI to streamline the process with our AI-powered transcription tools. Along with our free note-taking tool, you can use Anchor AI to generate meeting minutes and identify action items, assignees, and due date. You can even ask Anchor to write up a next steps email based on how the meeting went.

Anchor AI is great for virtual meetings — simply invite it to your Zoom meeting — but you can also use it to transcribe in-person meetings by uploading a recording.

Sign up for free today and see just how easy your to-do list creation can get.

Ready to shed the busy work?

Let Max 10x your grind so you can focus on the gold.

Get started for free

No credit card required. Free forever.