How To Take Useful Minutes Of A Meeting

August 21, 2015
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Minute taking is a job that many who are in a secretarial position dread, but it doesn’t have to be that way!

Everyone should feel driven in their role, even when tasked with what may seem like a tiring process of writing business-oriented notes during a meeting. It doesn’t have to be exhausting; it doesn’t have to feel like a burden; it doesn’t have to make you feel like you’ve been delegated a menial task – because minutes are far from menial.

If you’re looking to find out how to take useful minutes of a meeting this article is for you.


What are Meeting Minutes?

Minutes are the key points discussed during the meeting and the main actions decided upon.

The 3 main aspects of minute taking are:

  • What was decided/agreed on
  • What was accomplished
  • What actions need to be taken forthwith

Minutes are not a transcript of everything that was said.

You don’t have to fret if you miss people’s general discussion about the agenda topics; what you’re listening out for are key points and definitive decisions. That is why they exist: minutes are a fundamental part of business’ decision-making processes.

what are business meeting minutes?


How Can I Write Effective Minutes of a Meeting?

Taking minutes is more than just writing notes during the meeting (although that certainly is at the heart of the minute taking process). It’s about the preparatory stages leading up to taking notes, and it’s about writing the final Minutes document once you have all the information you need. The minute-taker is typically tasked with dealing with pre-meeting arrangements and is responsible for ensuring that the final document is written, checked by everyone, and approved.

It seems like a lengthy process, but between taking notes and producing the final Minutes, it should only really take the best part of 5 days! If you’re involved in the preparation of the meeting, that number will naturally be higher, but it doesn’t have to feel like a slog. If you take control of the situation, you will not only feel driven but will also fulfil your duties as professionally and efficiently as you can.

minutes production


7 Top Minute Taking Tips:

1. A good minute-taker knows when it’s best to listen and when they should be writing

Don’t try and force yourself to write notes during the meeting at all times just so you look busy! Pay attention to what people are saying – this will enable you to filter out the key points from the general discussion.

2. Don’t shy away from the preparation process

Being responsible for certain aspects of the meeting preparation, such as the agenda, should not be viewed as an unwanted addition to your workload. It is in fact very beneficial to your note-taking abilities. It enhances your ability to follow the discussion and pick out important details. Get involved with it! You’ll gain a stronger sense of what is required from you.

3. Utilise templates

If you’re in the role of minute-taker, chances are you will be taking minutes more than once. A lot of time could be wasted trying to deal with niggling inconsistencies in formatting and table layouts when writing the final Minutes, which can be avoided by using templates. This will not only help you remain in control of the task at hand, but will also ensure that they look professional – which they should as a business document!

4. Talk to people in preparation

You might not have comprehensive knowledge of the topics that are due to be discussed during the meeting, but getting a feel of them beforehand will greatly enhance your ability to pick up on the important details. To do this, talk to people who will be part of the discussion – the chairperson and attendees – and ask if they can fill you in on the main points.

5. Be prepared

It’s a simple tip, but a golden one. There’s nothing more disruptive and unprofessional than realising your pen has no ink or that you’ve run out of paper – or worse yet that there’s nowhere to sit and nothing to support said paper! (Pro tip: bring a clipboard). You may also need to provide equipment for others and make certain arrangements; be sure to do so, so that you’re not darting out of the room flustered midway and disrupting your minute-taking flow.

6. Sit next to the chairperson

In order to clearly hear everyone speaking during the meeting, you should sit next to the chairperson as they are the person towards whom people’s dialogue will be primarily directed. It will also reinforce your position of importance – you are a part of the management team and should not be relegated to a dusty corner in the room!

7. Type up the notes into the final Minutes document immediately

This is a tip you will see a million times over, but for good reason. Your memory will be fresh, other people are also more likely to remember what was said in case you need to clarify anything that was established. More than that, you will streamline the whole process which ensures not only that everything functions smoothly and professionally, but also that you don’t feel pressured and that you always remain in control.

note_taking


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