Whether a small group or a larger conference, company meetings often need to be documented. When this is necessary, a person is likely appointed to take meeting notes, otherwise known as minutes. To take effective meeting minutes at your next company meeting, follow our guide below.

What Are Minutes? Why Are They Important?

Minutes are, simply, the record of a meeting. The term itself is actually a little intimidating. Meetings are not usually recorded minute-by-minute. They capture the main points of the meeting and future action items. Meeting minutes provide a source of information for those who could not attend the meeting or need to refer to it at a later date.

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Meeting Term Dictionary:

  • Minute Taker: The person who prepares the notes of the meeting 
  • Quorum: Minimum number of meetings that regular participants need to attend to decide on an issue. Usually half the meetings plus one 
  • Stakeholder: Someone interested in the outcome of the meeting
  • Action: A task that is or will be completed as a result of the meeting’s decisions 
  • Apologies: List of meeting guests that were unable to make it to the meeting
  • Motion: When a meeting attendee makes a formal proposal

How to Take Appropriate Minutes:

Taking meeting minutes requires a few necessary skills. A minute taker will need to be a good listener. They should also be confident in transcribing what they hear into their notes and making sure they are properly translated on a record. Organizational skills are also required – both for recording and storing the meeting’s notes.

According to Wildapricot.com, there are five steps involved in taking minutes: Pre-planning, Record-taking, Transcribing, Distribution, and Storage.

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1. Pre-Planning

Work out the format to take minutes. To make this easier, clarify the goals and expectation of the meeting. You may have a template or outline available beforehand. Include a meeting agenda to keep the meeting’s direction on track. 

2. Taking Notes During the Meeting

Start by identifying the location, date, and attendees of your meeting. If a large group or committee is attending, prepare and pass around a sign-up sheet. Also, create an “apologies for absence” list for those who could not make it to the meeting. This will help when distributing copies of the minutes later. Other notes to record include:

  • Action Steps
  • Voting Outcomes
  • Motions 
  • New Business
  • Next Meeting Date/Time 

Remember to never use the word “I” when taking notes. As stated in an article for resourcecentre.org.uk, “Minutes are not a personal record of your thoughts, but an official account of what was discussed and agreed.” 

3. Transcribing Your Notes

When transcribing your notes, make sure they are legible, neat, and organized for future reference and handed out to other co-workers. Do it right away; you will be more accurate while the information is still fresh in your mind. Use appropriate headings, subheadings, and lists where you can. Visit the UWA website for more information on creating reader-friendly meeting minutes.

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4. Distributing or Sharing to the Right People

There are many methods of distributing meeting minutes. If you are not able to type them up, be careful to write your notes legibly and clearly. When sharing electronically, there are many options to use, such as the Google Drive, The Cloud, OneNote, Evernote, and more. 

5. Filing and Storing for Future Reference

You may need to print and store hard copies of your notes. Categorize these by date and topic for easy identification later on. As for electronic copies, any of the distribution services listed above can double for storage. Your company will likely have their own preferences for this.

Remember, when taking meeting minutes, don’t try to write everything down. Knowing what to record and what to skip is perhaps the most difficult task. Stick to what is important. Concentrate on what is going to happen and who is responsible. Remember that the purpose of minutes is to record decisions made in a meeting, not everything that is said.

And if you need to decide on a location for you next meeting, choose Earle Brown Heritage Center. We have the technology, space, and amenities to fit your needs.