You’re always playing ‘catch-up’ as a minute-taker – because the meeting goes on while you’re taking notes. The aim is to make this ‘catch-up’ gap as short as possible.
The responsibility for creating effective minutes can mean that you try to note everything down in a meeting. And then you spend hours writing up pages of notes – trying to work out what should go into the finished minutes!
Of course, minutes are important. 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.
So what can help you 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 or waffles, then it shouldn’t go in the finished minutes – so don’t take notes.
- 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: rep or R for report, conf for conference, st for staff, and p/p for postponed.