Minute-taking – some people love it; some people hate it! I’m in the former category, is that a bit strange?! I mean I get to hear everything that’s going on in the business, high level decisions taking place and then I write it in my own coherent words. I’ve been writing minutes for over 20 years and it’s become my ‘niche’ skill.
Here’s my top 5 tips for efficient minute-taking:
• Always read the papers. Invariably, something will arise in the meeting that you don’t understand. I often scan through them first, then refer to them when I’m typing up my minutes. If a paper is well written, you should be able to lift sentences right from the paper to explain the objective of the session or clarify a recommendation.
• Choose your best method of capturing the meeting. If it’s a face to face meeting, I use old school shorthand. If it’s a virtual one, I minimise the call and type as they talk. I’ve even recorded a meeting whilst I was in the car (multi-tasking with mum duties) and played it back later. Choose whichever method will ensure you can keep up and not miss anything.
• 70% of meeting chat is exactly that – just chat. Your job as minute taker is not to write up everything that was said. It’s to distinguish the key points from the drivel. If you read a page of your minutes and there’s too much “he said” and “she said”, you need to cut out some of the chat. This is a real skill and it’s something that comes with time and experience. A lot of people want to hear their own voice, but it doesn’t mean their points are necessarily essential to the discussion that’s recorded.
• Always include an introduction to your section and a conclusion. The intro should be one sentence stating what someone was presenting or what was discussed. The conclusion should be what was agreed. A limited amount of chat goes in between. This makes it easy for the reader to quickly understand what was discussed.
• Your draft notes should be nothing like your final version. Whatever you type up initially is just your narrative. The most important part of writing a good set of minutes is then going through what you’ve written and making each paragraph readable. Ask yourself:
o Is it well written?
o Does it make sense?
o Is the grammar right? If you don’t know – google it!
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