In business, it’s essential to track the progress of many tasks at once without confusing them. You’ll find that understanding and implementing action items will make you more productive.

This blog aims to answer the seemingly simple answer to “what is an action item?“, and more importantly, outline business examples of how to write better action items for meeting minutes.

So, What is an Action Item? They are an Important Aspect of Business Meetings

You may already know the answer to the question, “What is an action item?”. As a refresher, an action item is defined as a documented task, or action recorded in meeting minutes that need to be completed by either an assignee in a business setting. Simply put, it’s something that you need to do. Action items are typically written down, tracked, and managed by other members of a business team. Once completed, they are typically reviewed.

Elements of What Makes an Action Item Successful

Action items are an integral part of a business or organization – however, there is a notable difference in quality creating an action item that will get a task accomplished correctly. Understanding the meaning of what an action item is (and its purpose) will help increase the success rate of your team’s projects! Here are five tips that will help you use meeting minute action items to your advantage.

Action Items Should Provide Clarity

When you write down an action item, clarity is king. Remember, you may be writing this for other members of the time to read, so being specific about what you want to accomplish will help out your team. Make sure you have the details needed so your team members completely understand the task at hand.


Here is an example of how to create an action item with more clarity:

  • Example: “I want to follow up on as many sales leads as I can”
  • Could be: “Follow up on 30 sales leads”

The difference: The first written example is one that is too open-ended. When would you stop working on the task? How do you know when you can check it off your list? The second example has a more quantity expected, which provides more clarity on how to complete the task

Action Items Should Be Concise

Building on clarity, be concise. What is the simplest, shortest way you could explain what you want to accomplish? In a world where businesses and their employees are relying more on technology for communication, being concise is especially crucial if you are communicating action items to others. If you find yourself using too many words to explain it, maybe you need to think more about what you intend to do, and phrasing it in a way that is easily readable.


Here is an example of how to create a more concise action item:

  • Example: “Talk to Larry about the situation where products are not showing up at the retail location on time”
  • Should be: “Discuss store product shipping delays with Larry”

The difference: Using fewer words makes this information less confusing and more direct. Overall, this is easier for you or others who manage the task to read.

They Should Provide a Realistic Amount of Time

Assigning a number of hours, or establishing a timeframe for an action item is important for team productivity. The assignee of an item should have a time associated with an action for Parkinson’s law dictates that work will tend to take as long as you make time for it. Give yourself 3 hours to do something, and sure enough, it’ll take 3 hours. But maybe if you gave yourself 2 hours, you’d save an hour.

They Should Detail The “Who, What, and When”

Details matter when it comes to writing your to-do items. As a guideline, answer these three questions when writing and documenting an action item:

  • Who is doing it?
  • What are they doing?
  • When will they complete it?

Who is doing it? Each action item should have an assignee (or assignees) that are in charge of completing the work agreed on. In addition, there should be someone tracking or managing the task that will check-in for updates.

What are they doing? What is the description of the task? This description should be detailed so that members of the team know exactly what needs to be completed.

When will they complete it? Due dates and deadlines need to be established when an item is assigned. Due dates and deadlines may vary based on the priority of a task. Of course, if more time is needed, and a task is a lower priority, a due date can be pushed out, with the understanding that the task will be fully completed.

These questions offer an excellent format while detailing the information needed for others to understand how to execute them. By following this format, your team won’t miss anything important.

Action Items Should Start With a Verb

Using a verb in a written action item not only makes the task more actionable, but it also makes the intention clear. Saying “PowerPoint” could mean anything. Saying “Design a PowerPoint Presentation Template.” makes your intention clear, while creating an actionable task.

Having a true understanding of the definition of action items is only the beginning of improved personal and team performance. With these tips, you and your team will be more productive in tracking, managing, and completing these tasks, and you’ll see a higher success rate on projects. Now, it’s time to use these tips!

A New Way to Manage Action Items

With yoyomeeting, businesses and organizations can now send action items to assignees and follow up easily. Our web-based meeting minutes software has many features that will help drastically improve business productivity. To improve productivity learn more about how yoyomeeting works. From meeting planning to meeting recording, meeting recaps, yoyomeeting helps streamline and automate the meeting process. Get a free 2-week trial today and notice the difference.

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