Minute-taking is a practice used in business and beyond that involves taking brief notes during meetings. The concept itself is quite simple, but the practice is not as widespread as it should be, considering the many benefits to be gained from minute-taking. For example, creating a concise but informative summary of the meeting discussions and decisions can help companies organise deadlines, improve task delegation among attendees, and provide a helpful reference to the staff at the company.
Usually, one of the meeting attendees is assigned the responsibility to take the notes or businesses and third-parties such as Global Lingo that specialize in these areas. Besides the numerous benefits of minute-taking, we will go over the key information about this practice that could help your business operations if implemented.
What is recorded in meeting minutes?
A comprehensive record of a meeting should contain more about it than just the date and time. For example, meeting attendees should be listed, along with those that missed it. The minutes should clarify whether the meeting was called to discuss a specific matter/issue (and describe it), or whether it was just a regular occurrence. To properly prepare attendees for the meeting, the points of order should be distributed beforehand, as well as included in the final notes. This will give staff proper time to gather relevant materials, prepare presentations, etc.
It is also essential to chronicle what happened at the meeting. It will be up to the minute-taker to choose how much information to record, and it can range from a full transcript of every word uttered to a small list of topics discussed. Either way, meeting minutes will not be complete without describing any decisions made during the meeting or major plans that were discussed.
It is also quite common for meetings to establish objectives for staff members which are to be completed in the future. Saving them in the notes will make it easier for everyone to remember what they need to do before the next meeting or deadline. Finally, if some important technical factors influenced the meeting (e.g. if it was a Skype call, or different digital presentations were shared), this information can also be relevant in the reference.
How are meeting minutes recorded?
There are three main stages to minute-taking: before, during, and after. Contrary to what some might think, preparing for a meeting takes more than just grabbing a notepad and a pen. The person taking the notes should first examine previous notes (if available) to understand the format and keep it consistent in the new meeting. Secondly, they should make sure that a meeting agenda has been distributed to everyone attending. If it isn’t, they can at least get the main points beforehand from the person who called the meeting.
The meeting stage is quite straightforward, with the note-taker listening carefully and recording (on paper or device) the important information, according to the classification we pointed out. Finally, after the meeting, they should look through the notes and correct any grammar mistakes, inconsistencies, and add clarifications for any points that could be confusing to a reader. Once it is all done, the minutes can be shared and archived in a secure location.
What Should Actually be Included?
One of the most challenging aspects when it comes to minute-taking is deciding what to include and what to exclude. You should keep two points in mind when deciding this. First, avoid the temptation to write everything down because it is not only impossible but also useless. Minutes are not a point-by-point account or description of what was discussed in the meeting. Secondly, try to concentrate on what has been decided and the person responsible for doing it. Remember the purpose of minutes is to record actions and decisions agreed by the meeting.
Effective Tips for Improving the Clarity of Your Minutes
When writing minutes, you should use simple, straightforward language so that you’re as clear as possible. Instead of providing a blow-by-blow account of what transpired in the meeting, try to come up with a summary of the main issues. In case the discussion concerns an important subject, you should only include the key points in the write-up.
Try to list the points discussed rather than the people who raised them. In case there is a talk or presentation at the meeting, you don’t have to give an account of the entire presentation or talk. Simply take note that it took place and note the subject or topic of the presentation.
Remember that minutes are not a personal account of your thoughts. They are an official account of what the group discussed and agreed. So, never use ‘I said’ or ‘I thought’ or use ‘I’ when taking minutes. You also don’t have to mention everyone who spoke. But it is necessary to when, for instance, someone is presents a report. In a nutshell, you should focus on the key points of the agenda rather than the person that said it.
Keep in mind that even someone who was not present at the meeting should be able to understand the minutes. That’s why you should try to give a brief background, and only take an account of what really happened at the meeting.
Always Sort the Basics!
When you have the responsibility of taking minutes, ensure you have a copy of the agenda before the meeting. If it’s possible, try to go through it with the Chair in advance. Ensure you have a file of the previous meeting’s minutes in case any queries concerning past meetings arise. And get a decent pad of papers, some pens, and ensure your table is comfortable to write on.
To sum up, keep in mind that minutes are basically notes taken at meetings to serve as a reminder of what transpired. You don’t have to make them complicated or long with flawless grammar or fancy language. Just ensure you record clearly the decisions that were arrived at and the individual tasked with carrying them out.