Effective minutes are vital in today’s busy world. Clear, concise, accurate minutes help to show regulatory compliance, good governance and accountability. Just as importantly, they provide a record of progress, developments and actions undertaken.
This responsibility can mean that minute-takers try to note everything down in a meeting – and then spend hours writing up notes (trying to work out what should go into the finished minutes!).
What strategies can help minute-takers to capture the key points during the meeting?
- Remember that minute-taking is not dictation! You don’t have to get everything down, word for word. Your aim is to note the main point or message.
- Find out how much detail is needed for the finished minutes, in advance. Do you simply need to list the decision, actions and timelines – or do you need to add key points of a discussion? This will influence how much you write during the meeting.
- Keep your notes concise. Only note down the key points that will go into the finished minutes. Not every point that people make or every piece of information people share needs to go into the finished minutes, so don’t try to get it all into your notes.
- Be aware of the agenda item. If a speaker goes off on a tangent, then you probably won’t be adding it to the finished minutes.
- Write shorter – so you can listen more effectively. You don’t need to learn shorthand because you can develop your own abbreviations for words that come up frequently. For example: rp or rep for report, conf for conference and st for staff.
By Sarah Marriott
Sarah Marriott is a highly experienced trainer and former journalist who specialises in delivering Writing Skills courses for the public and private sectors. Sarah has worked as a feature writer and sub-editor at The Irish Times. She has also been involved in training Irish Times editorial staff. She is a former lecturer on the MA in Journalism at Dublin Institute of Technology and is author of Common Errors in Written English.
On Friday 7 June, Sarah Marriott will lead a seminar on Minute-Taking. For more information, or to book, click here