As a minute taker, you’re responsible for recording relevant notes during important meetings. You’ll then use them to produce a final document to send to attendees and anyone else who requires a copy.
When it comes to writing effective notes, you’ll need to follow the discussion and identify the key points throughout. Here’s how to effectively write up meeting minutes, with confidence.
- Research Before the Meeting
- Don’t Include Every Detail
- Know When to Listen
- Don’t Complicate the Language
- Use the Third Person Register
- Write Objectively
Research Before the Meeting
Before you start, make sure you have a basic understanding of the meeting topic. Sometimes, a chairperson might ask you to produce an agenda in advance, so it’s essential you do some prior research.
Being sufficiently prepared will help you take useful notes, making it easier for you to produce clear and structured final minutes. The most important thing to remember about minute taking is that speed is key.
Don’t Include Every Detail
Minutes aren’t a transcript of everything that was said during a meeting. It’s impossible to write every single remark or conversation down. Instead, they’re a summary of the main points attendees discussed and the following action points they decided upon.
Minutes are an official and legal record of a meeting so they need to be accurate. There are specifics like dates, meeting participants and time adjourned you need to include too, but the three key things you’ll need to record when minute taking are:
- What was decided?
- A description of what was achieved.
- The actions that need to be taken in the future.
There are only three main areas of the conversation you need to capture in your minutes, so try to avoid all of the chat and ‘he said, she said’ dialogue. Unless it’s relevant to the vital agenda points, leave this out.
Know When to Listen
Once you’re confident in determining what parts of a conversation you should record for the minutes, you’ll naturally learn when it’s best to sit back and listen. It can be more beneficial to stop note taking at certain points to truly understand what’s happening during the meeting.
You won’t need to record certain parts of meeting conversations but you should still maintain your concentration and listen to what’s being said.
Don’t Complicate the Language
Keep information basic and language simple to avoid any legal complications that place the organisation at a disadvantage in any legal proceedings.
The rough notes you take at the meeting are for you, so you can use abbreviations and organise them in any way you like. However, don’t fall into the trap of using the same words repeatedly to describe the decisions that are made. Allowed, briefed, countered - switch up your vocabulary for readability.
Use the Third Person Register
When writing minutes, you need to use the past tense - the third person. For example, John Smith announced he would share the minutes shortly.
This helps you execute the next point easier too.
Most importantly, minutes must be entirely neutral and not express any preference of ideas or attendees. The document you produce should provide an unbiased overview of the discussions had and the decisions made.
This also means having the confidence to speak up in a meeting (where appropriate) and clarify points to avoid having to decipher your notes later on.
If you need to take minutes of a meeting remotely, such as if you are working from home, you need to consider a few more things to ensure you produce minutes efficiently. Ask attendees to repeat themselves if you cut out, work in a quiet space and seek clarification on anything you’re unsure of.
Minute taking is just one area in the public sector where you need to make sure your writing skills are effective. If you’re looking to brush up on your writing skills, why not check out a guide we’ve created for that purpose?
Create More Effective Written Content in the Public Sector
Taking valuable minutes, writing succinct briefs and responding to complaints effectively - there’s a lot involved when it comes to writing content in the public sector. So, we’ve combined all of this useful information in one accessible guide and added some extra tips to sharpen any written content you produce.
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