Tips for Taking Minutes: During the Meeting
In this post I want to consider what happens when you are actually taking minutes at a meeting.
The most important thing to remember when you’re recording the minutes is that you need the essential information. But which information is that?
- How do you decide what to note down during the meeting to include in the minutes?
- How much information should you record?
- What should you leave out?
In essence the minutes record the decisions of the meetings and the assigned actions. They are used to remind people of their roles after the meeting.
Here are some things to remember:
- If you are the person taking the minutes, make sure you are not a major participant in the meeting. It’s almost impossible to contribute to discussion and decision-making well, and take good minutes.
- Use a template, based on the agenda. Make sure you leave plenty of blank space to record your notes. Make sure you note down who is responsible for assigned actions, any agreed deadlines, and the decisions that are made by the meeting.
- Use a system of initials to identify the people responsible. It’s much quicker than scribbling down people’s names. Decide on the initials you are going to use before the meeting and make sure you’re familiar with them. Also, if there are people at the meeting you’ve not met before, make sure you are clear on who is who.
- Avoid trying to write down everything that is said. Focus on understanding what is being discussed. Focus on noting down action items, decisions, deadlines, and the names of people responsible.
If you don’t understand something, or lose track of the discussion, ask the chairperson to clarify the item. It helps if the chairperson summarises each item during the meeting. Not all chairs do this, but you can always ask them. It not only helps you record the vital information. By restating the main points the chair can also be sure that everyone at the meeting has a common understanding about what has been agreed.