1. Pre-meeting preparation
When just the thought of creating official meeting minutes makes your writing hand freeze, take note: Preparation starts well before the meeting.
In fact, 60% to 70% of a minute-taker’s most effective time will likely be spent in the pre-meeting stage, as one meeting expert pointed out. The work you do during this phase lays a foundation that helps ensure your success upon entering the meeting room.
Download How to Write Meeting Minutes to learn eight pre-meeting steps.
2. During the meeting: Minute-taking tips
Even after years of practice, taking minutes wasn’t getting any easier for Terri Michaels. “I had become wordy, and the minutes were sometimes eight pages,” she says. “Each new director or company wanted them done differently.”
Finally, she enrolled in a workshop, where she learned that to take better minutes, “I had to adjust my listening skills and thinking patterns, and home in on what was really being discussed.”
Now Michaels uses these minute-taking best practices:
Ask yourself, as you’re taking notes, “Will it matter in two days, two weeks, two months, two years?” If yes, include it. “I still find myself putting things in my draft that do not matter and later removing them,” Michaels says.
Summarize. Don’t record conversations word for word.
Do record motions word for word, and indent them for easy scanning.
- Mr. Hurst made a motion to approve the 2008 ranking list. Seconded by Mr. Goodhart.
- MOTION CARRIED
- Use keywords vs. sentences. Tip: Record minutes in a steno pad. On the left side, write keywords; on the right side, make short notations on the keywords. Want the notes to stick in your memory? Write on a color pad.
- Keep emotions out of the minutes—yours and those of attendees. Example: “Mr. Smith, exasperated by the discussion, left the room.”