I’ve already given you some tips for minute-taking in a previous post. Here are some more. They’re more about your preparation than about the actual writing of the minutes. Prepare well and writing the minutes will be much easier.
- Read the agenda and the papers. If you don’t know some of the vocabulary, check in a dictionary or ask for someone’s help. Become familiar with the language and the content.
- Talk to the chairperson and ask if they can give you some idea of what is to be covered, what kinds of decisions will be made and to lay down ground rules. For example, if you don’t understand something, are you allowed to ask for clarification during the meeting? Can you summarise a point during the meeting to clarify it?
- Become familiar with the participants. Talk to them if you have a chance so that you are familiar with their voices and accents. Learn which face belongs to which name so that you’re not struggling with who’s who during the actual meeting. If you don’t know everyone, check if it’s okay to use name plates on the tables so that you can quickly see who is speaking.
At the meeting
- Use a system of initials to record people’s contributions. If you have two people with the same initials, work out a code to identify which is which.
- Record your notes in bullet point format (not sentences and essay style) and leave lots of white space. Make sure you have plenty of paper.
After the meeting
- Write up your minutes as soon as possible after the meeting, preferably on the same day, while your memory is fresh. You’re less likely to make mistakes then.