Minute Taking Tips For Your Next Meeting

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Minute Taking Tips For Your Next Meeting

Your Minute Taking Time Has Come!

The moment will surely come, whatever department of government, community group, charity or private company you find yourself working for. There has to come a time, if not actually at the start of your career, then at some point along the way, when you will be asked to take the minutes in a meeting. You can’t dodge it.

A good meeting needs a good chairperson, or facilitator   and it needs good minutes. Given half a chance, the ability to take ‘good minutes’ is a great career improving skill.

If the thought of taking minutes makes you break out in a cold sweat, trust me, you’re not alone. The opportunity of us sitting frantically transcribing in a meeting that we don’t really understand what we’re supposed to be transcribing is more and more likely.

Writing Business Documents Sydney Melbourne Brisbane Adelaide Canberra Geelong Parramatta Perth QLD NSW WA SA VIC NTThis short guide will give you some basic instructions so that, by the end of it, you will be able to take the steps to produce a meaningful process. It is the minutes that hold people responsible to complete the tasks they were assigned.

A well composed set of minutes sets out the designs and allocates actions. They put to rest confusion about what was talked about and what was decided;  a good set of minutes leaves the reader in no doubt. They provide an ongoing auditable record of what has transpired;  they generally record ‘why’ as well as ‘when’ and, perhaps most importantly, they keep participants on side because they act as a record of who did and who didn’t keep their commitments.

The style of minutes that is going to be adopted will be influenced by the style of meeting you are recording. We will look at action style minutes here although we give examples of other styles in our workshop Minute Taking Skills. Action style minutes are normally used when you are working on;   project groups steering committees working parties.

With accurate minutes to refer to, everyone is clear.

What many don’t know is that the notes for meeting minutes does not need to be exactly what was said and done in an actual session. The notes are simply a summary of discussion. Decisions made is recorded during the session;   who does what, etc. These minutes are saved and are used as reference or background information for the next meetings or discussions about the same topic.

A guide for your first minute taking experience:

Before the Meeting

It can be a challenge to participate fully in a meeting and to take the minutes too, so it is preferable to have a minute taker whose only job it is to record proceedings. Of course this is not always possible and so you may end up in a meeting participating and simultaneously taking the records. Alternatively, you may not be allowed to participate in a meeting but check with your chairman first, in case you have a worthy piece of opinion (or an ingenious plan to set the world in motion) to voice!

A new minute taker may be a chance to start using a new minute format Perhaps ask the chairperson if they are happy with the current format, or if a new format of minutes is required.

After that, create yourself a one minute format. If your chair was happy with how the minutes were set out previously, you can do this using the same format;   leave room for;

  • date and time of the meeting
  • the name of the meeting, committee or group
  • the purpose of the meeting
  • the meeting lead or chair’s name
  • assigned action items
  • decisions made

Do your homework. Ask the chair as much as you can before the meeting. Get a list of who is attending and what the agenda is. Look at the minutes from the previous meeting that will at least inform you of what has happened at previous meetings. Get a flavour of who usually is in the meetings and what their role is. Read through the Minutes of any previous decisions (and why they were made).

During the Meeting

As people come in, tick them off your attendee list. Greet the people coming to the meeting as they arrive and, where needed, having them check that you’re spelling their name right will help you later on when you’re recording assignments or decisions.

Don’t take notes word for word. The minutes are a summary of what happened not a word for word record.’ the minute taker should mostly be listening,  then recording who agreed to do what.

Write down action items and decisions as they come up, not afterwards and flag them in your template as the meeting unfolds, so you don’t forget critical decisions and delegations when you transcribe them later. If you don’t understand what decision has been made, or what action has been assigned to whom, ask the chair straightaway after the meeting.

Immediately after the Meeting

Immediately after the meeting,  when your memory is still fresh, compose a rough draft of your notes. You can always go back and fill in the small details later, but getting the general idea down is half the battle.

It is not always the case that the minutes need to be written in the order of which the discussion took place. The reason for this is that at some meetings the discussion can go off track;  Due to that, the order may not make sense on paper and the information has to be put in logical, sensible order later on.

By the time you hit action style minutes, you may just need to describe the decision, record what actions have been assigned and when those actions are due. Don’t write explosive or personal observations. Remove any personal bias or emotions. The fewer adjectives or adverbs, the better.

Photocopy any other document referred to in the report (maybe tabled at the meeting for information) before you send out the minutes and place them in an appendix or state where they can be found.

Once you are finished typing the minutes, pass them on to the chairperson of the meeting for an error check and get the final approval. Email the final version of the minutes to all those attending as soon as possible after the meeting is over. Keep a copy of your original notes to refer to in case anyone wants to clarify something later.

Keeping the minutes will  make sure that the decisions and actions aren’t forgotten once you take the time to create  correct minutes you will make sure that the time and effort you invested in the meeting wasn’t in vain.

Remember the best way to get on top of minute taking is to do a 1 on 1 course or workshop where we can discuss any of these areas more and develop your minute taking skills. For any information feel free to contact us.

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Contact Our Team

Contact our staff for any question, request or assistance.
We are always available to help.

Contact Our Team

Contact our staff for any question, request or assistance.
We are always available to help.

Contact Our Team

Contact our staff for any question, request or assistance.
We are always available to help.

Contact Our Team

Contact our staff for any question, request or assistance.
We are always available to help.

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