I have a natural talent for taking minutes. It’s not something I particularly enjoy, but it is something I’m good at! I know a lot of people struggle with this task and actively avoid it where possible, so I thought I would share some of my top tips.
Take a few minutes to set up a basic template that you can use to record the minutes. Use the main agenda headings with bullet points underneath. This will help to give you some structure when you come to finalise the minutes. It also helps you know which agenda topic is coming up next without having to switch to a different file.
Type don’t write
If like me, you can type faster than you can write, then take your laptop to the meeting. Typing as you go saves a lot of time as you’re halfway to having the minutes finalised. It also doesn’t matter whether you understand what is being said. Just type what you hear and then worry about grammar, spelling and formatting later.
Don’t stress the jargon
I’ve worked in many different industries and each of them have their own jargon and acronyms. There will also be client or product names that may not be familiar to you when you first start taking minutes in a new role.
Nobody is going to expect you to know these things immediately, but Google can be your best friend in these situations. If you type what you think you heard, then you can do a search to confirm that you have spelt it correctly! Alternatively, if you think you’ve heard the term before, you can perform searches of emails/diary appointments/previous minutes etc. to find the correct spelling.
Finalise as soon as possible
Review and finalise your minutes as soon as possible after the meeting. The meeting will still be relatively fresh in your mind which will aid you in turning your notes into proper sentences. If you leave it a couple of days, you will read something back and think ‘what the hell was that about?’ Trust me I’ve been there!
It’s always a good idea to ask the meeting chair to review the minutes prior to sending out to the rest of the participants. Don’t worry if you get a lot of changes back the first couple of times. Take it is a learning process and try and understand the way the chairperson expresses themselves so that you can adopt their style and improve.
There’s always an alternative
If my tips haven’t convinced you that you can start taking great minutes, then there are alternatives. You could look at transcription software that will take a recording of the meeting and prepare the minutes for you. I’ve not used any software myself, but would always recommend that you thoroughly review the transcription and adjust as required.
Getting a professional minute taker can take a lot of the stress out of this task. Feel free to get in touch and see how I can help you have stress free meetings.