An Experts Guide to Taking Minutes

An Experts Guide to Taking Minutes

Some meetings seem to suck everyone into a black hole of time; they are easily the things that most people would do away with if they could.

However, a well-planned meeting, aligned with concise and easily actionable minutes can make all the difference. Here are a few pointers that you should observe when taking minutes during a meeting, to really make a difference and add value:

Pre-planning 

The minutes should be inextricably linked to the agenda. If the secretary, the chair and the minute-taker work in harmony in ensuring that the meeting and the agenda are properly thought out, the minute taking will be much easier. Use a copy of the meeting agenda as an outline or guide for taking notes and preparation of the final minutes. In advance, you should also seek clarification from the board or committee on what they expect during the meeting, and the level of detail that should be recorded in the minutes.

The format – what to include 

Before you start recording the minutes, you should have a clear understanding of the type of information you need to record during the meeting. There may be a specific style or layout to follow that you need to be aware of. No matter what the format, the following information is generally always required:

– Time and date of the meeting

– Names of the participants, including those who could not attend

– Acceptance, amendments or corrections to the minutes from the previous meeting

– Decisions arrived at for each item on the agenda

The writing process 

Once the meeting has been concluded, it is time to assemble your notes and formalise the minutes. It is advisable to write these down immediately after the meeting as the information will be fresh in your mind. Additionally, review the outline and clarify points raised or make additional notes.

Reviewing your work

Ensure all actions, motions and decisions are noted clearly. Once you have finished compiling the minutes, edit your work to ensure clarity, conciseness and brevity. Be objective and be consistent in your tenses throughout. Unless you are highlighting seconds or motions, you should keep people’s names out of the minutes. Avoid personal observations as much as possible and summarize major arguments, in areas where there was extensive deliberation.

Sharing or distributing the minutes

As the person officially tasked with taking minutes, sharing these may also be your role. However, before sharing, ensure that the chair of the meeting has revised, reviewed and approved them for circulation.

The dissemination method used largely depends on the available tools at your disposal. It is advisable to use paperless sharing methods whether this is by email or saving in the cloud or shared folders. After that, you will need to file or store them for future documentation.

Minutes recorded during meetings are incredibly important for clarification and ongoing work. However, preparing and taking these notes should not be a time consuming task, and if you are struggling to find someone not actively involved in the meeting to take these notes, then think about using an outsourced PA.