How to Create Key Takeaways for Any Type of Meeting

How to Create Key Takeaways for Any Type of Meeting

Aug 28, 2023

No matter how great you are at running flawless meetings, it can be hard for attendees to pay attention to every word. Whether you run daily team meetings or the occasional town hall, providing participants with a list of key takeaways can help them retain the most important information and leave with a clear set of ideas or items to act on.

But what are key takeaways, and should you prepare them before, during, or after the meeting? Here’s how to create key takeaways for any meeting, and how you can use automated note-taking tools to streamline the process.

What Are Key Takeaways?

A key takeaway is a short sentence or statement that summarizes the key points of a meeting, presentation, or document. These can take the form of project ideas, status updates, or actionable items that need to be assigned to team members.

In some cases, you’ll be able to come up with key takeaways in advance. For example, if you’re delivering a presentation, your final slide could include three bullet points that summarize the results of a social media survey or last year’s marketing metrics.

Other times, the key takeaways will depend on the content of the meeting, such as the outcome of a vote or an update on an important initiative. If that’s the case, you can use the meeting agenda to anticipate important points, but you’ll need to wait until after the meeting is over to create a list of key takeaways from it.

Why You Need Meeting Takeaways

There are so many ways to document meetings these days, from transcriptions to Zoom recordings. You could send out a link to the recording of your virtual meeting or webinar, but no one wants to re-watch the meeting they just sat through.

You can think of key takeaways as the recap of your meeting. They aren’t meant to be a play-by-play of your decision-making process — that’s what meeting minutes are for — but they can serve an important role in team-building and communication.

Here are three ways meeting takeaways can help you get more out of meetings:

1. They Help You Put Ideas Into Action

Providing participants with key takeaways during or after the meeting ensures that they walk away with a clear sense of direction.

If you’ve just spent the entire meeting discussing pricing models for your new podcast app, what are they supposed to do with that information?

Key takeaways help you translate complex ideas into real-world solutions, or even into literal action items you can add to your task management software.

2. They Encourage a Shared Vision

Some meetings, especially all-hands meetings, can cover a lot of ground. Maybe your co-founder brought up some market research questions, and your development team addressed app functionality — and maybe some stakeholders didn’t attend at all.

With the rise of remote work, it can be harder for team members to interact with other departments and get on the same page. Key takeaways help to keep everyone in the loop, and ensure that everyone is working toward the same objectives.

3. They Make Meetings More Memorable

Finally, key takeaways can be used to emphasize important points that might otherwise get overlooked. They’re like soundbites that distill an hour’s worth of discussion into a few key points that are easy to remember.

You don’t need to summarize absolutely everything that was said, but reviewing a few key takeaways at the end of a meeting can help with recall and retention.

Types of Key Takeaways

Key takeaways can come in a few different forms depending on the type of meeting in question. Here are three important things to include in key takeaways:

  • Status updates: Status updates tell you how much progress you’ve made on a project since the last meeting or update. Be sure to include this as a key takeaway to keep all of your stakeholders informed.
  • Committee reports: Nonprofit meetings and board meetings may include reports from multiple committees. Important points can be summed up as key takeaways and included in your meeting minutes.
  • Action items: Actionable items are tasks that need to be followed up on after the meeting. Assign each one to a specific team member and write them down as key takeaways to ensure accountability.

Other things that can be considered key takeaways are workplace changes, decisions that affect multiple departments or team members, or the outcome of a vote.

3 Ways to Create Key Takeaways for a Meeting

Now that you know what key takeaways are and when to use them, how do you make sure you don’t miss anything? Let’s take a look at three ways to create key takeaways for a meeting — and why some kinds of takeaways practically write themselves!

1. Write Them Down In Advance

One easy way to write key takeaways is to look over the meeting agenda and identify the most important points. If the goal of the meeting is to inform — such as to review performance metrics or announce a remote work policy — chances are you already have some key takeaways ready to go. Here’s an example:

  • New remote work policy comes into effect on January 1, 2024. Home office stipend available for employees who work from home.

Of course, this is less practical for a brainstorming meeting or a kickoff meeting, in which you don’t necessarily know what the key takeaways will be. But for webinars, presentations, and other information-driven meetings, you can make a list of key takeaways and distribute them to participants in advance.

2. Take Good Notes and Send Out a Follow-Up Email

For most meetings, it’s the note-taker’s job to identify and record key takeaways. You can either leave a space in your notes for key takeaways as you go, or review your notes later to pick out the most important points.

Be sure to use a consistent method like the Cornell note-taking system so it’s easy to come back to your notes and make sense of what you wrote down.

Once you’ve identified the most important takeaways from the meeting, send out a follow-up email to participants and those who couldn't attend. For example:

  • IT team plans full system upgrade on 12/16. No action required.
  • HR department to ramp up hiring in Q4. Referrals welcome.

Remember, your notes may include more details about the topic; you can send out both your key takeaways and a full set of notes or meeting minutes.

3. Generate Them Automatically

If note-taking isn’t part of your skillset, or you simply want to be able to pay attention to the meeting, use an automated note-taking tool to create key takeaways for you. Tools like Anchor AI can use artificial intelligence to identify action items during the meeting, and automatically add them to your task list or action item tracker.

For example, if Toni agrees to schedule a series of posts about an upcoming product launch, Anchor AI can turn it into an action item like this one:

  • Action item: Schedule social media posts
  • Task owner: Toni. B
  • Due date: 10/20/23

And that’s not all: You can also Ask Anchor to summarize the meeting, transcribe the meeting, or generate a follow-up email automatically. Simply invite Anchor AI to your next meeting, or upload a recording afterwards to transcribe it on-demand.

Automate Key Takeaways With Anchor AI

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Key takeaways are a few brief sentences that summarize the most important points of your meeting. You can create them based on the meeting agenda, from your notes, or by using an automated note-taking tool to generate them for you. Use them to remind meeting participants about key points or to keep other stakeholders informed.

Anchor AI takes the stress out of meetings by doing the hard work for you. Instead of trying to cram key takeaways into an action item template, you can be fully present in the meeting itself. You’ll get a searchable transcript and AI-powered action items to boost productivity and improve collaboration on your team.

Sign up today or contact the team to learn more!

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