Minute taking can be stressful and any tips to reduce some of that stress is always welcome. Here are my top tips which I'm sure will help you to produce accurate and objective minutes without any extra stress.
Step 1: preparation – there are a few steps you can do before the meeting to ensure you set yourself up.
- Obtain a copy of the previous meetings minutes and read through them. This will give you an idea of what the meeting is about, what tasks were allocated and who is responsible.
- Find out who is attending and have an attendance sheet ready.
- Ensure you have a copy of the Agenda, if you haven’t produced it.
- Decide how you will record the minutes – ie a notebook and pen, laptop/tablet, tape recorder or shorthand notes. Make sure you have a backup method just in case (the battery in the laptop or tape recorder could run out).
- Ensure you know what position each person holds.
- If you haven’t been given a template for the minutes prepare a minutes’ template but base it on the previous minutes as the minutes should be consistent.
Template tip: There is some basic information that should be contained in any minutes, this includes date, time and location of meeting; name of person chairing the meeting; apologies; names of all attendees; all motions that are made (names of those who made the motions and those who approved the motion); summary of any reports; what action needs to be taken and by who; adjournment time and details of next meeting.
Step 2: all about the meeting – there are some things that you can do at the meeting to increase your chance of producing the best minutes that you can.
- Have a seating chart so that you can easily identify who people are and where they are sitting. Use this as a reference throughout the meeting.
- Position yourself so that you are sitting next to the Chairperson of the meeting.
- Listen carefully to what is being said, focus on the main issues, actions and decisions. Stick to the facts, you do not need to record every word verbatim.
- Note all the motions, who made the motion, if the motion was passed and what action is to be taken and who is to take that action.
- If unsure of anything during the meeting, clarify with the Chairperson.
Step 3: after the meeting – it is essential that you take steps as soon as practical after the meeting to ensure that your minutes are accurate.
- Don’t delay – type up the minutes as soon as practical. While it is fresh in your mind it will be much easier to ensure accuracy. Remember that you need to focus on the major points, decisions made and the actions to be taken.
- Proof read carefully – ensure that your minutes are accurate, can be read, understood and free from errors. Take pride in your work.
- After you have checked that the minutes are in a form that is acceptable, have the Chairperson of the meeting approve the minutes.
- Once the minutes have been approved you can distribute them to all involved in the meeting.
The key things to remember are that preparation is one of the most important things. Once you are prepared, remember to record only the major points from the meeting including the actions, decisions, who is to take that action and to finalise the meeting minutes as soon as practical. These things will ensure that your minutes are clear, understandable, concise and objective.
Good luck with your next meeting minutes! Let me know if these tips have helped you of if you have any others that we can add to this list.