Business Writing Tip #44—Useful words to use when writing up minutes

When you’re writing up the minutes of a meeting, particularly a long meeting, you might find that you keep using the same words over and over. In fact, the attendees at the meeting probably did this and your notes reflect what they said. But such repetition in a written document is likely to make it harder to read. People may get bored…

Sometimes you can get around this by changing how you write the minutes. When you’re recording a discussion and find yourself writing, repeatedly, ‘Ms X said…’ and ‘Mr Y said…’ you can reword the text to leave out the names.minutes

Example:

‘Ms Johnson said that the logistics department’s computer system was having trouble handling the volume of transactions and might crash.’

Becomes:

‘The logistics department’s computer system is having trouble handling the volume of transactions and might crash.’

Now this is all well and good, but sometimes you need to find other words. Next time you’re looking for different ways to write things, take a look at these lists.

When there has been some talk about a topic:

  • analysed
  • considered
  • debated
  • deliberated
  • discussed
  • examined

When something is suggested, or an idea put forward:

  • hoped
  • intended
  • meant
  • planned
  • proposed

When people disagree:

  • disagreed
  • disputed
  • not the case

And, when they agree:

  • agreed
  • concurred

Words for the ‘thing’ being discussed:

  • challenge of…
  • existence of…
  • issue of…
  • problem of…
  • question of…
  • topic of…

Words for ‘things’ the meeting is comparing:

  • alternatives
  • choice
  • opportunity
  • options
  • preference

Words for talking about the positive aspects of something:

  • advantages of
  • benefits of
  • merits of
  • value of
  • worth

And words for the negative aspects:

  • dangers
  • disadvantages
  • drawbacks
  • problems
  • risks
  • uncertainty

When the meeting expresses a preference for one thing over another:

  • chose
  • name
  • opt
  • pick
  • prefer
  • select

And if someone isn’t happy with something they might be:

  • anxious
  • apprehensive
  • concerned
  • troubled
  • uneasy
  • worried

If something might be possible, you can talk about the:

  • chance
  • likelihood
  • possibility
  • potential
  • probability
  • prospects

And when the meeting agrees, they:

  • approved
  • concluded
  • decided
  • determined
  • resolved

In amongst all of this you will probably want to write that someone said something. ‘Say’ is, in my book, a perfectly good verb. But in the minutes of a long meeting you might want some variety so you can go with Ms X or Mr Y:

  • acknowledged
  • added
  • advised
  • clarified
  • commented
  • confirmed
  • declared
  • defined
  • demonstrated
  • described
  • drew attention to
  • emphasised
  • established
  • explained
  • highlighted
  • illustrated
  • indicated
  • informed
  • outlined
  • pointed out
  • raised
  • recalled
  • reported
  • said
  • stated
  • suggested
  • understood
  • verified
  • reminded the meeting that

26 thoughts on “Business Writing Tip #44—Useful words to use when writing up minutes

  1. A very handy list. My colleagues and I were also discussing how you get past not knowing who someone is! Sometimes the meetings are so large with people you haven’t met before and because you’ve been called in there are no name plates. Some of our favourites are:
    “It was mentioned that..”
    “It was said…”
    “It was felt…..”
    “A member of the group raised…”
    “Concern was shown by one member/delegate…”
    But is anyone can suggest alternatives that would be great!

  2. This is very very useful and I have used many of these words over the years. As the recorder, you will put your reader at ease in knowing that the discussion of the meeting was put in amicable context.

    Thank you for that.

  3. This is a very handy list of words to be used in minutes and other office correspondence. Thank you!

  4. This is very helpful to me, indeed minute writing skills is something a secretary should seriously invest in so as to cope with the frequent meetings and large numbers of attendees. I appreciate your guidance.

  5. I am truly grateful because I am an executive assistant and sometimes I have to find so many synonyms in order not to bore my Board to sickness.

    • Hi Chona,
      can you give me more information on the context? I’m not sure quite what you want to do with the phrase.
      Thanks,
      Dalice

      • hi!

        thank you for the reply.

        just want to ask what is this phrase “on that note”?

        how are you going to write it in a minutes if your boss is “saying on that note”?

        what is the correct (verb, adverb or whatever) of this phrase?

        thank you!
        god bless!

        • Hi,
          When someone says, “On that note” it suggests that they are going to talk about something related to what came before. Usually in minutes we are not recording the full conversation, just the action points, so usually it wouldn’t be recorded. One option you could use is something like:
          Mr xyz added some information about abc …
          or if you need to record the main points of a discussion you could use bullet points.
          The meeting discussed xyz.
          – xy is expensive
          – it will solve our problems
          – needs to be considered further. Ms ABC will research the issue and report at the next meeting.

          I hope this helps. Anyone else like to comment?

          All the best
          Dalice

          • Hi!
            thank you very much!
            it really helped me a lot.
            God speed!

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