Minutes capture the essentials of what takes place during a meeting and what needs to happen as a result. They give meeting attendees a clear understanding of what occurred in the meeting and help them stay focused on their role in a project or task. Minutes eliminate misunderstandings and disagreements. Writing effective minutes is critical for clarity. Useful minutes give clear information, which helps attendants effectively perform their role.
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Ensure you are not a major meeting participant if you are taking minutes; you cannot perform both duties capably. Writing effective minutes takes time and concentration, so limit yourself to just that task.
Decide how you will take the minutes. Options include using a pen and a notepad or a laptop computer. You may use a tape recorder with both methods. Choose whichever method you are most comfortable with.
Make a template to write the minutes before the meeting. Include the meeting date, time, reason for the meeting, the meeting leader's name, actions assigned and decisions made. Leave blank space for your notes.
Get as much information as possible from the host before the meeting. This includes attendants' names and information on the nature of the meeting. This saves you from scrambling to find out during the meeting.
Check off the attendants' name as they enter the meeting. Have the host introduce you to unfamiliar people. Avoid writing verbatim. Simply give an outline of what occurred during the meeting; it is not always necessary to write who said what. Concentrate on grasping the nature of the discussion and on writing what has been decided upon. You may refer to the audio recording later for details.
Record decisions and action items as they occur. If you are unsure of a decision that has been made, ask the meeting leader for clarification.
Review the notes immediately after the meeting. If you need further clarification, ask the appropriate attendees while the meeting is still fresh in their minds.
Type the notes into the template you made before the meeting. Ask the meeting leader to review the typewritten minutes. Make changes or adjustments, if necessary.
Send the attendees the final copy of the minutes as soon after the meeting as possible. Keep a copy of the notes and the template in case you--or someone else--needs to refer to them.
Tips and warnings
- When typing the meeting minutes, number the pages and use consistent tense. Avoid using names, except in cases of motions or seconds. Limit the use of adjectives and adverbs. Avoid personal observations. Attach additional documents, if applicable, in an appendix or state where they can be found.
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