Has the practice of recording meeting minutes become a part of your everyday role? As straightforward as this may have initially seemed, it can easily become a stressful experience in a number of circumstances.
For instance, you might have heard feedback from executives that you need to capture information more thoroughly and accurately. Or maybe the process is simply eating up to much time on a day to day basis. You want to balance the time it takes to do a thorough job with your other daily demands and achieve a good work life balance, to boot.
There’s good news for you. Experts understand minute taking for the unique discipline that it is, and they are there to offer guidance and help you master a workable strategy. For instance, you can take an online course spefically designed to train you in effectively recording minutes. This wll even teach you some strategies that you can apply to multiple areas of your life and your career.
To get you started, here are some tips you can use to start getting on top of the process.
Set up for success
It’s never a good idea to reinvent the wheel. If you are working from a blank page at every meeting, you can do more to make sure your notes are consistent and comprehensive, capturing the level of detail you’re going to need.
It is a good idea to set up a template with a place for all of the information you know you are going to require up front. Ultimately, you will need to categorize the information to make sure you are answering the five W’s: who, what, where, when, and why.
Along with this, you should also create a sheet that you can pass around to have attendees sign in, if that is a possibility. You won’t want to waste your time documenting this at the meeting if it can be avoided. You can collect this after the meeting and use it to document the attendees.
Finally, make sure you have the agenda in advance and use that to organize your notes before you begin. You can set up separate pages or sections to provide a general structure. If you are the administrative assistant, of course, you may have been the one to prepare the agenda, so this should be simple for you.
Hack your note-taking strategy
It’s easy to take for granted the art of good note taking. It seems so elementary: listen to what’s being said and document it. But then, in the actual act of doing this, our brain is forced to process and organize a lot of information. It’s unlikely, unless you are great with shorthand or can type like a court reporter, that you will be documenting every word. Of course, you can (and might) record the meeting with an audio recorder, but this is not a very convenient or efficient way to revisit the information.
And even if you did capture everything, you are still tasked with summary and highlighting the important information. So a better strategy is to set up your note-taking so you can easily put together and summarize the messages you heard.
One great way to do this is to learn a visual note-taking approach. Essentially, you will teach yourself to build out a visual map of the meeting that makes it simple to recall and reflect on. Get started with an online course covering the practice of visual note-taking.
Boost your memory power
Aside from improving the effectiveness of your note taking, you can take strategies that will help you store information in your brain and recall it more easily. As strange as it seems, we can practice tricks that will essentially outsmart our own minds into honing in on the information we are most concerned with recalling.
In essence, this is done by creating associations. If we are able to attach a visual cue or some kind of symbol to something we want to remember, it often jogs our brains into calling up the information for us. There are certainly strategies that you can use within the context of your meetings. And coupling these with a good note-taking approach should make the information capture process a breeze.
Type like a champ
After the meeting ends, and you are left with your notes, you are going to have to type all of this up. You will need to reference your notes as you work through the document, and if you need to constantly switch back and forth between your notes and your keyboard, you will lose a lot of time unnecessarily.
This is why touch-typing is an important skill for administrative work, and if it is not a particular area of strength for you, you might do well to learn it once and for all. It takes a little practice, but it is not extremely difficult, and you can begin today with a course designed to teach you typing skills.
It isn’t a fancy mind-hack or trick to use, but it still deserves mention: you will want to write up the minutes as soon after the meeting as you can. If you delay the process, you will likely have a more difficult time recalling information. So it can be a damaging approach to put too much time in between.
No matter your position with the company, being tasked with recording meeting minutes can be a time-consuming and potentially intimidating experience. But it certainly doesn’t have to be. Take a few steps to get ahead of the process, and you can make it a no-brainer that will cost you little time and that the executive team will highly value.