No matter what the type of business you are running, you will need to conduct business meetings at some point. Business meetings are a productive and tested way for employees to collaborate and to set goals and plans for future projects. Meetings also allow employers to follow up on any work that they have assigned to their employees. Overall, meetings are a necessary method for strong communication within the office environment.
However, without a selected member of the team taking strong notes at each meeting it is possible for decisions, information, and other details to be lost. This can be detrimental to the productivity of the specific project or the overall health of the company. It is imperative that you or a member of your team be skilled in taking the best meeting minutes possible so that everything is recorded for future reference. Taking meeting minutes, or delegating the taking of minutes, is an essential part of being an effective leader. For more information on leading meetings for your business, consider taking Udemy’s Meeting Management Skills course, which in a single day can teach you how to better manage business meetings of all kinds.
What Are Minutes Exactly?
Minutes are a special kind of notes. They are not transcription. Minutes are focused specifically on what was accomplished at a meeting as opposed to what was said. This is a very important distinction. Because businesses will have hundred of meetings a year, with as many decisions being made throughout, it is necessary the minutes only focus on action and not opinion.
Because the flow of conversation as well as decision making process can move rapidly it is necessary that whoever is taking the minutes have a firm grasp of time management. As a supplementary course for taking minutes check out Udemy’s lesson on Effective Time Management for Professionals.
When taking meeting minutes it is important that a standardized format is set up and followed. Once established this should be utilized in every meeting minute scenario thereafter. This will make it much easier to sift through the information later. It is recommended that during the meeting, notes be taken by hand. It will be less disruptive than the tapping keys of a tablet keyboard or a laptop. However, it is good practice to type up the notes soon after, while the information is fresh in your mind. Microsoft Office offers many programs that are good for this task. Take Udemy’s Microsoft Office Training Bundle course in order to get a better handle on using software to format these and other documents for your business.
What Should Be Included in Minutes?
Meeting minutes should always start with the name of the meeting as well as the kind of meeting it was. Possible meetings include: board meetings, annual meetings, special project meetings, and interdepartmental meetings, and more. If the meeting was called for any specific reason, then the person taking minutes should include a copy of the meeting notice within the minutes.
Always include the date and location of the meeting. In terms of location it is necessary to list an address or office location; however, one does not need to write which exact conference room that the meeting was held in. Also include the time that the meeting started. It will be necessary to have a watch or clock in the room so that exact times can be notated. If desired a stopwatch can be kept in order to time the meeting more specifically.
Next make sure to include the full names of everyone in attendance at the meeting. Also include their title or position, as well as any substitutes that may be present in their place. It is suggested in this section to write down each of their abbreviated initials. Most meetings move very fast. Writing down each meeting member’s full name every time they participate in the meeting will quickly become unmanageable. By annotating initials and using them throughout, taking minutes will be easier to accomplish.
It is usual, in corporate meetings, that the minutes from the previous meeting are reviewed. Sometimes it can be decided to skip this process. Either way, the administrator taking the minutes will need a copy of the previous minutes to read. Once reviewed, it is customary to annotate in the current minutes that the previous minutes have been read.
Once the meeting gets underway and discussion or decisions are being made, the person taking minutes will have to write very fast. Have an annotation process already picked out. Use abbreviations, directional symbols, and other small note taking skills to follow the conversation. However, when a vote or decision is made this must be detailed in full. Motions will require you to take down the exact wording of the motion itself, who made it, and how each member of the meeting voted. Failure to correctly annotate this information could result in any number of problems for the company later on. This is a prime example when strong meeting minutes are so important.
The last section of minutes should include any reports on performance, tasks assigned, or actions necessary should be recorded. Also take note of any new deadlines or resolutions and recommendations that are mentioned. Once the meeting is over the person taking the notes will review out loud the meeting, specifically any actions taken. After the minutes have been approved and understood by those in attendance, the minutes must be signed. The person taking them does this at the bottom of the page.
What Should Be Left Out of Minutes
Because meeting minutes are meant to be solely factual, they should not include opinions or judgments. Other areas that should not be included in meeting minutes are criticisms or accolades, larger topical discussions, or extended revisiting of reports. Knowing how to sift through these parts of the meeting to get to the important information takes time and skill. Focusing on the highlights of conversation is acceptable, but should not become the focus of the meeting minutes.
On occasion, when a larger picture is needed to understand that topics being addressed, summary information may be necessary to include in the meeting minutes. Again, understanding how to create well balanced, clear, and particularly concise summaries will be critical to keeping up with the flow of the meeting and supporting the goals of the business at hand. Taking Udemy’s course on Business Writing is a great way to get a handle on how to craft summaries efficiently and with speed.
Just as time management is critical to meetings, it is equally important to taking the minutes. Often the minutes-taker is in charge of keeping a meeting on task and moving forward with direction and purpose. With advancements in digital technology and smart phones there are any of a number of applications that will help keep time management under control. Using these in conjunction with minute taking will be beneficial to all involved.
Even though the idea of taking notes at a meeting seems reasonably easy, taking actual minutes is a refined skill. It requires the ability to multi-task. A good minutes taker can listen, write, and process information at the speed of conversation. It also requires a level of personal organization and standardization unique to the format. If you are in the position of taking meeting minutes or want to learn how to do it taking Udemy’s Course on Taking Great Meeting Minutes is the perfect lesson for you. Don’t wait to learn how to take fantastic minutes at a meeting. Even this small act can catapult your corporation into the next tier of business.