How to take minutes

Updated February 21, 2017

Keeping accurate meeting minutes is crucial for any business or organization. If someone does not accurately record the ideas and decisions from a meeting, the results of the meeting will be lost.

Understand the format your boss wants you to follow when you take meeting minutes. Should the minutes be a nearly word for word duplication of what everyone says or is it acceptable to simply record general ideas? The requirements are usually somewhere in between what a stenographer would do and brief summaries of the action. Make sure you know what they want before you begin your work.

Stay focused throughout the meeting. If you become distracted for even a few seconds, you may miss something important.

Develop your own special abbreviations and short hand for common phrases, names, places, businesses, organizations and ideas to help you take meeting minutes. The less you have to write, or type if you have a laptop, the better you will be able to pay attention.

Copy motions, amendments and other items to be voted on word for word. It is surprising how frequently there is a question about how something was worded. If there is any uncertainty surrounding the intent of a motion, you need to be able to tell the big wigs what they actually said. Also, make sure you keep track of who made a motion, who seconded and the tally of the vote.

Transpose your notes soon after the meeting. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to remember the context of the meeting when going over your notes. This can cause mistakes and when you take meeting minutes full of mistakes there can be major consequences.


Always have extra pens with you. If you have a mini tape recorder do not be afraid to use it, especially if you are required to take highly detailed minutes.


Be prepared to hear the term, "going forward" in your sleep. It is probably the most used phrase in a board room. Apparently meetings are designed to determine what happens going forward. Not what direction we are heading or what happens from here on out, but going forward. Get used to it because that is how the suits talk. If it is your job to take meeting minutes, do not think of it as a worthless low-level job. You may not be making the decisions, but you are charged with ensuring those decisions are incorporated correctly.

Things You'll Need

  • Several pens
  • Large pad of paper
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