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The importance of taking meeting minutes
Why is it important to take notes during a meeting, and why is it better to write them rather than make a recording, for example during a conference?
Meetings are an integral part of professional life, this is the reason why it is essential to take minutes of every meeting. Indeed, the role of minutes is very important for participants present and absent during a meeting because:
- The participants to the meetings have a reminder aid
- The minutes say who will do what and when
- They are the starting point of the following meeting
- They are helpful for those absent to know was discussed and what decisions have been taken
- In case of conflicts, they are useful to know what agreements were made
For questions about privacy, it can be preferable during a meeting to write the minutes rather than record the whole discussion. For example some people don’t like to be recorded or they don’t feel comfortable knowing that they are being recorded. However, the person taking the minutes can ask if they can record the meeting. This may be helpful to them to later write the official minute of the meeting.
Secrets for good minute execution
Taking minutes during a meeting is not an easy job. People responsible for taking them should be prepared, for example reading previous minutes in order to take confidence with them.
It’s important to arrive at the meeting room before the conference begins in order to be prepared to note essential things like who is present or absent, and to know the topics which will be discussed, especially if the person taking the minutes is not very familiar with the subjects of the meeting.
Also, the choice of the materials with which to take minutes is important and also personal. If the person taking minutes prefers writing with paper and pen, he must be equipped with notepads and a good pen (it is advisable to have another pen in case the other doesn’t work anymore). Others prefer to take notes with laptop or tablets (in these cases, the person must be sure to have a power outlet in case their device needs to be charged during the meeting).
Rules for appropriate meeting minutes drafting
During the meeting, the person who takes minutes should follow these rules and suggestions:
- listen well and write strategically. Listening means to understand all that the meeting’s participants say when they speak. Do not mentally anticipate the speakers’ phrases or what we think they will say.
- Listening means also understanding the speakers’ thoughts and speech, but it does not mean agreeing. It is important that the person who takes minutes writes the essential things of what is said during the meeting without noting personal opinions.
- Writing the whole discourse during a meeting is not possible and neither is it what the minute taker is asked to do. Indeed, writing minutes is not a dictation exercise. It is a summary. Of course, making a summary of things discussed rather than written is not easy. People have to remain focused and, if they think they have to write everything, they will be soon be exhausted and the minutes incomplete and incomprehensible. For these reasons, it’s better to wait for the end of the speech and then to write the themes debated, making a choice of the most important points to include.
- In order to take a few essential notes of a meeting, it would be a good exercise to structure the document. Usually, at the beginning of the meeting minutes it essential to write the day of the meeting, the name of the person who presides over it, what time it starts, the name of who is present or absent, and the name of the person who takes the minutes. Successively, the person has to write the topics point-by-point and, as mentioned previously, noting only the essentials points.
- It’s a good suggestion for the person taking minutes, at the end of the meeting, to write them as a formal document without delay . This is because memory plays an important role and if the minutes aren’t written promptly, the person could forget the essence of the discussion. Writing minutes immediately it’s essential also in order to correct mistakes, to complete possible missing words and to write titles of each point discussed during the meeting.
Competences to take minutes
In conclusion, in order to be fully prepared for taking minutes, the principal competences are to be: accurate and organized, self-confident, a good listener, able to recognize the essential topics of the meeting, able to summarize them and, last but not least, to note points neutrally during the meeting.
In addition, before starting writing, the person in charge of taking minutes should take the time to answer three question:
- What does he know about the topics which will be discussed during the meeting?
- Who is the final audience of the meeting minutes?
- What are their expectations?
These questions are very helpful not only to take self-confidence with the meeting minutes but also to prepare a good reminder and support for the intended audience of the minutes, mainly managers and office employees.