Are you tasked with taking minutes at work? I am a stickler for accuracy of information so I always used to volunteer to take the minutes so there was no misunderstanding, incorrect information or missed action items.

Minutes aren’t meant to be a word for word account of the meeting, just the relevant points should be noted down for reference. Whatever the topic or agenda, minutes are what will be referred to in the future when recounting this meeting or topics discussed.

So many people see the minute taker as a less than stellar role to be tasked with. Well, ladies, you couldn’t be more wrong as it’s actually the most important role in the meeting and is usually entrusted to someone who the chairperson is confident in and trusts.

Detail is key, and it’s vital that you understand what is being said – enough so that you can relay the information in the minutes without typing out word for word of what was said. If you are able to, get a copy of the minutes prior to the meeting and read through it. This will give you a basic understanding of what’s going to be discussed so if there’s anything you aren’t sure of or need to clarify you can do so before the meeting commences.

Once the meeting has commenced, usually the minute taker is just there to record and not “part of” the meeting so to speak. That certainly doesn’t mean you cannot speak if you need to unless specifically advised. So someone spoke too fast or skipped forward on to another topic without identifying the relevant action item or who would be responsible, you didn’t understand something or perhaps someone has a strong accent making it difficult to understand. It is so much easier to ask and clarify at the time! Trust me. The information is fresh and you are all still in the moment, don’t wait til after the meeting as it’s no longer fresh to recall the details and can lead to mistakes or incorrect minutes. If you can’t interrupt during the meeting take notes and clarify at the end of the meeting before leaving.

If you must clarify something, be quick and to the point so the meeting can continue without delay. Also be specific! Words such as summarise, clarify, or explain are a good place to start – or if there’s a tonne of jargon ask for them to relay it in laymen’s terms.

Typically when attending meetings there’s no seat allocation, except perhaps for the Chairperson. I always recommend getting in a few minutes early so you can claim the right seating for optimal positioning.

Make sure you get copies of any relevant handouts, presentations or other materials used or discussed during the meeting for reference in the minutes. Imagine checking the minutes in 2 months time and they reference a presentation or document but no access to it – doesn’t do anyone much good now does it!

I also always ask for feedback at the end of the meeting and once the minutes have been read because there’s always room for improvement!

What has your experience been with taking minutes? I’d love to hear from you.

Love Sarah xxx

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