Tips to Take Better Minutes at Meetings

During the course of meeting, the items or topics listed in the Agenda are discussed serially one by one.

All the participants express their views or opinions and discuss among themselves the pros and cons of each item of Agenda.

Finally they arrive at some conclusions or decisions, which are always kept on official record. We call them as minutes of a meeting.

Thus minutes are the formal records of proceedings of a meeting.

In other words these are the brief of discussions held and decisions taken at the meeting.

It is the duty of a Secretary to retain all such discussions, deliberations and decisions in writing specifically.

The purpose of writing minutes is;

  • To serve as the formal record of discussion and
  • To serve as a background for future discussions.

Minutes comprises of;

  1. Date and number of meeting.
  2. A list of those names of those who attended the meeting
  3. A list of those members who did not attended the meeting and from whom apologies were received.
  4. The record of confirmation of the previous minutes and any amendments agreed to by the committee.
  5. The essential, relevant background to the topic under discussion
  6. A succinct summary of the discussion
  7. A clear and unambiguous record of the decision reached/ resolution and if appropriate, of those individuals/bodies responsible for talking subsequent action.
  8. Where discussion of a specific case leads to a policy issue , it is important that a separate minute be written on the policy issue(even if this item did not appear on the agenda). Remember;Use the term Chairperson and not Chairman or Chairwoman. Non gender specific language must be used in the minutes.

Principles of a Memo

Before setting out to write the minute, the following principles should be borne in mind for effective writing:

Brevity

A minute is a selective, not verbatim record.

Clarity

Clarity is essential for good communication. Those who were not present should be able to understand what happened at the meeting from reading the minutes. All references should be specific, relevant and accurate.

Self-containment

The minute should stand by itself so that additional information is not required if it is required if it is referred to somebody. If readers want more of the ‘background’, they should be able to check references.

Decisiveness

Decisions /resolutions should be conveyed clearly. The language of actual resolution or decision should be reproduced.

Immediate Recording

Write up the minutes as soon as possible after the meeting.

Tips to Help You to Take Better Minutes at Your Next Meeting.

  1. Have a copy of the agenda with you. Follow the agenda closely during the meeting and use a stopwatch to note when items begin and end.
  2. If the agenda item has been addressed under the allocated time, the speaker should finish. The time that’s left over can be used to address any items that couldn’t be covered earlier in the discussion.
  3. It’s up to the group, with the help of the facilitator, to decide to keep on the issue or move on.For example, the group may want to get through the rest of the agenda and then revisit the extended issue at the end of the meeting.In some groups, the leader may make this decision. If it’s important enough, a separate meeting may be scheduled to discuss an issue in more detail, which would also give people time to prepare better for meaning discussion.
  4. It’s the timekeeper’s role to let
    the group know when a speaker’s time is up. When one-minute remains, signal the group non-verbally (raise your hand, ring a small bell).This gesture should be determined before the discussion begins. When the speaker’s time is up, make the gesture again. Using a non-verbal gesture is comfortable for the timekeeper since he doesn’t have to interrupt and encourages the speaker to be concise and stay on time.
  5. The timekeeper should also alert the facilitator and group members to breaks.You could say, for example, “I just wanted to let everyone know there are only 10 minutes before our break”. You could also write reminders on cards and hold them up as a reminder.

As follow-up, e-mail an attachment of the meeting notes to each of the participants.

Or save them to the company’s network in a meetings folder. This way, all the meeting participants have access to the meeting notes if there’s an idea or discussion they’d like to revisit.

In the e-mail, also summarize the action items assigned during the meeting. Outline what was assigned, to whom it was assigned, the priority level and the due date.

When a meeting’s adjourned, it’s not always clear who’s responsible for what, which means action items aren’t always carried through.

By summarizing the action items in an e-mail, you can be certain all participants understand who’s responsible for what.

Minutes is the formal record of discussions in the meeting. Minutes also works as base for the future meetings.

For taking better minutes a meeting, some principles, tips, steps must be followed.