How often does the content of a meeting go in one ear and out the other? TechRepublic columnist Tim Landgrave recently outlined several audio and video options for documenting information and assignments generated in meetings.

However, Landgrave’s column spurred a discussion among TechRepublic members that showed many of you question whether recording is effective. Here’s a look at some of your opinions, both pro and con.

The benefits of recording: Documentation and motivation
On the pro side, several members said they’ve benefited from recording meetings.

“I’ve had success with making audio recordings of meetings,” Phred said. “It has proved more useful for those longer meetings in which people fade in and out (1.5-plus hour meetings are long).”

Although his coworkers were initially self-conscious about being recorded, they soon forgot about the small recording devices set out on the conference table.

Plantogo agreed that recordings of meetings could be useful as resources and said recording also serves as motivation to conduct efficient, well-planned meetings. Those unwilling to have their meetings recorded usually fear coming across as unprofessional or disorganized, Plantogo said. Recording meetings “will raise the bar for meeting performance.”

But is it really necessary to record an entire meeting? David.palmer proposed a “selective” recording, in which certain resources like white board sketches or layouts are combined with summary notes and audio clips to create a permanent resource reference.

M.A. Foster was also in favor of the case-by-case approach. “Recording is helpful if the meeting is informational, not one where decisions are being made. If the purpose of the meeting is to achieve a genuine consensus, then what needs to be captured is the result.”

The downside of recording: Cost and time investment
On the flip side, several TechRepublic members said recording is a costly waste of time. Hfong suggested that while there’s always the option of having meetings transcribed and e-mailed to attendees, it’s a waste of money if no one reads it.

Mfelli agreed that the cost could outweigh the benefits. “It does provide some source of documentation of the events at the meeting and summarizes all decisions,” he said. “But the cost is very high and the energy enormous.”

Flyeusa, who has recorded meetings in the past, said that the time demands of work environments make it unlikely that employees will have time to review them. “I’ve recorded many meetings uselessly because the press of events and dearth of time has precluded review of the recording.”

Minstrelmike warned that if the meeting was disorganized or longwinded, “listening to an entire meeting again makes it last twice as long.”

A low-tech compromise
Instead of making audio or video recordings, attendees should simply take notes during their meetings, according to ketil.

“If you don’t have the habit of taking notes and structuring information as you go, having a pile of tapes won’t help you much.”
Are the fruits of your meetings lost because of poor documentation?Join the discussion or drop us an e-mail and share your thoughts on how to keep track of meeting details.