Leadership Development Professional & Management

5 tips to write more effective meeting minutes

As the most important person in the room apart from the chair, here are five tips any minute taker can use to improve efficiency and productivity when writing minutes.

Tips for taking minutes in a meeting
Taking minutes of a meeting can be hard

1. Be an active listener

Even if you are not taking part in the meeting and your role is to take the minutes it is important to use strong listening skills to ensure that you note the actions agreed by the participants.

Active listening is a valuable technique to use when you have been tasked with taking minutes. Active listening allows you to clarify and double check with the chair or key participants that you have understood what has been agreed and what they would like you to include in the minutes.

It can be awkward to interrupt people during a meeting to clarify your understanding, however by positioning the request as a question i.e ‘just to ensure this is what has been agreed could you just summarise the points for me?’  Identify yourself to the group at the beginning, so they can see you signal if you need spellings, details etc.

2. Sit as close as possible to the chairperson

You’re more likely to hear what they say, of course and, if necessary, double check what was stated or agreed upon, too. By incorporating the position and focus of the chair to the meeting, it helps the Chair both lead and stay on point as much as it helps you to record accurately what has been said.

3. Write up the minutes as soon as possible

Obviously, the longer you wait to write up the minutes after the meeting has finished, the more likely you are to forget what happened. Use key words and try to get an overall picture of what was presented or use quick drawings, since the mind remembers images more.

4. Take minutes on your Laptop

Some still take minutes in their notebook and after the meeting write up the notes on their laptop. It might take a little practice, but taking your laptop and writing the minutes on your qwerty keyboard can save you a lot of time afterwards. If you’re worried about missing any of the key points agreed during the meeting you could use a recording device as long as you double check with the participants that they have no objections.

You may also want to use a specialist software programme to improve the speed of your touch typing.

5. Don’t put your feelings in the minutes

Minutes are a legal document to record a summary of the actions taken and agreed upon. The minute taker should remain objective and not give their opinion in the minutes. For example, they should not write “John made an excellent point about…”

In the past the stenographer or minute taker would use shorthand. New ways of taking minutes and saving you time are available through our course Minutes Writing Course, which helps you with the objective of recording the specifics: actions and time frames.

By Jacob Ahmadzai

Helping businesses improve performance with proven learning and development solutions. London based with a global reach.