Business Writing Tip 43—More Minute-Taking Tips

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.

Before the meetingMal_Leeds_Meetings_03

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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

  1. 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. 

6 thoughts on “Business Writing Tip 43—More Minute-Taking Tips

  1. I wonder if anyone can give me some guidance around minutes and the correct protocol to record changes to an item that is ‘tabled’ at a meeting, but has not yet been approved. Currently, my board is tabling policies for consultation at one meeting and approving them at the next. Is it appropriate to minute that the ‘tabled’ item has been ‘amended’ if there is a change to the original tabled document? My thinking is that only an ‘approved’ item can be ‘amended’. Thoughts or suggestions?

  2. Hi Janice, I found some guidelines that say that papers presented to a meeting can be either adopted or received. Though it talks specifically of reports from committees and individuals, I would think that the same advice applies to policies that are tabled.

    “Reports from committees and individuals that are tabled at a meeting can be either adopted or received. A meeting adopts the report when it accepts the report’s findings or recommendations. A motion as such should be moved, for example, ‘That the report of the fundraising committee be adopted’.

    If the management committee does not agree with the report or needs more information or time for further decision-making at a later point, the meeting can receive the report; again via a formal motion, for example, ‘That the report be received’. Motions dealing with specific recommendations can be dealt with at a later meeting.”

    When they are received they are then open for amendment. Once the amendments have been made, the document would then be approved (as amended) and accepted. The url for the document is

    Hope this helps.
    Kind regards

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