Several organizations conduct meetings where crucial decisions are made, and with important things at stake in meetings, the minutes of the meetings are of great value. Minutes refers to a well-written, detailed note of a meeting that includes a list of attendees, purpose of the meeting, and related responses or decisions for the meeting. Keeping minutes for a conference is vital as it provides verifiable records that can be used for reference in the future. With the help of business transcription services, the minutes of the meeting can be prepared accurately from an audio recording.
The word ‘minutes’ comes directly from the Latin ‘minuta scriptura’, which means small notes. Meeting minutes are small meeting notes and good meeting minutes summarize what happened during the meeting and it includes all vital details, discussions, goals of the organization and tracking of action items. Minutes are also a source of information for members who were unable to attend the meeting.
Key Tips for Taking Meeting Minutes
- Prepping for taking minutes: Proper planning about how to take meeting minutes is essential to make it effective. A well-planned agenda acts as a guide for taking notes and preparing the minutes. An agenda should include all important details like the names of all the participants including guests, speakers etc. Send out the agenda so that it becomes easier to decide on the recording methods like notebook, shorthand, tape recorder etc that is comfortable for you, and make sure that everything you need for the recording is ready before the meeting. If you are assigned to take down the minutes then make sure to find out what is expected from you during the meeting. Be clear on whether you need to offer names of those making motions, seconding, etc if you are dealing with motions or voting.
- Identify what should be included in the minutes: Before starting to write down the minutes, understanding the type of the information, required format, typing of records etc is vital. The basic components of minutes are:
- Date and time of the meeting.
- Names of all the participants attending the meeting and those unable to attend.
- Acceptance or corrections/amendments to previous meeting minutes.
- All decisions made about each agenda item, for example:
- Actions taken or agreed to be taken
- Next steps
- Voting outcomes – e.g. (if necessary, details regarding who made motions; who seconded, who approved and so on)
- Motions taken or rejected
- Items to be held over
- New business
- Next meeting date and time
- Make an outline of the meeting based on the agenda so that it becomes easier for you to write down the key points of the meeting. If you are writing down the minutes then include space below each item on your outline for your hand-written notes, then print these out and use this to capture minutes.
- If you have the attendees’ list, check who all have arrived at the time of introduction. You may also circulate the attendance list.
- Record decisions in your outline as soon as they occur to be sure they are recorded accurately.
- Ask for clarifications regarding the decisions taken, or those left undecided.
- It is not possible to keep up verbatim note-taking format, so simply write down the crucial points like decisions, assignments, action steps etc.
- If you are not able to keep up with note taking then you can consider recording the meeting.
- The process of writing minutes: Once the meeting is over, prepare your minutes by focusing on the major points of the discussion and make sure that the information is accurate.
- Write down the minutes as soon as the meeting is over, so that everything is fresh in your mind.
- Review the outline, add additional notes and mention all the decisions, actions, and motions of the meeting clearly.
- Include all crucial details like description of each action taken, as well as the rationale behind the decision and the major decisions that were taken after long discussions.
- Edit your minutes to ensure clarity. Check for misspelled words, incorrect punctuations, incomplete sentences, abbreviations etc. before distribution.
- Make sure to be objective, avoid using names other than to record motions or seconds; avoid personal observation and finally do not try to summarize.
- Approval of meetings: Before sharing your meetings, make sure that the superiors have reviewed and approved the minutes. Depending on your Board, minutes may also be formally approved at the beginning of the next meeting.
- Sharing the minutes: Once your minutes is ready, you can share them in the organization. If you prefer paperless sharing then you can convert your minutes into PDF or as Microsoft Word format so that it can be shared through email. If you are using Google docs you can easily share meeting invitations, agenda and additional documents. In case you have cloud-based membership management system, then you can publish the minutes as a web page and give access only to the committee
- Filing and storing meeting minutes: After distributing the minutes to your committee, you can preserve the minutes for future reference. You can either store them online or back these up on an external drive or store them in the cloud.
Quick tips for note taking:
Meetings are common in any organization as these are a powerful means of communication. A record of the meeting acts as a proof against any legal issues or can be used for further reference in the future. If you are recording the business meeting, reliable business transcription services can transcribe the minutes efficiently and also proofread to ensure absolute accuracy.