Meeting minutes are essential for organisations — they ensure varying employees and teams are on the same page after meetings.
Meeting minutes are the written record of everything that has occurred in a meeting so everyone — whether they attended the meeting or not — can keep track of what went on. They’re usually recorded by a designated meeting minute recorder but it can be a tricky process.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about meeting minutes and provide the best methods to take meeting minutes easily and efficiently!
Do you need meeting minutes?
Taking meeting minutes can be a laborious and long process. As such, it’s perfectly natural to wonder whether all the hard work and attention to detail is worth the effort. Isn’t it enough to take some brief notes for your own personal use? Do you really need to take minutes?
Unfortunately… yes. Minutes are absolutely essential. Meeting minutes are a historical document and are intended to record everything that is discussed and document the flow of the conversation. This can deviate somewhat from the meeting’s agenda, which is why it’s so important to capture everything.
They can serve as a reference point which is alluded to in making key strategic decisions at a number of levels within the organisation. They are instrumental in allowing businesses to both chart their ongoing trajectories and track their progress.
Unfortunately, personal notes rarely contain either the necessary detail or sheer scope necessary to facilitate the function of meeting minutes.
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What does taking meeting minutes require?
As we’ve established, meeting minutes are an extremely important part of a business’ strategic evolution. As such, the task of taking them can be difficult and demanding. Aside from the magnitude of their importance, meeting minutes can be difficult to keep up with.
Taking minutes requires a certain set of skills, and can be a challenge even to seasoned administrators. Let’s take a look at the skills required to take meeting minutes effectively:
Outstanding multitasking skills
A meeting minutes taker is not a stenographer. They don’t just document everything that’s said at the meeting. They’re also usually active participants and need to be present within the conversation even as they note down everything that’s said. And that’s a feat of multitasking that not everyone can manage.
It’s easy for the mind to wander, especially in long and (let’s be honest) boring meetings. However, minute takers need to be constantly present and in the moment. Allow yourself to be distracted, even momentarily, and an important statement or proposition might escape your notice.
An ear for detail
Did she just say “insurance” or “assurance”? Did we just agree that the next meeting will take place on the 22nd of May or March? Meetings can move at a fast pace and participants don’t always have time to repeat themselves or offer clarification to other participants or minute takers.
When taking minutes you need an ear for detail. This can be tricky when homophones or similar sounding words are used, and dates or numbers are used in quick succession of each other, but you need to have faith in your ability to record everything that’s said with pinpoint accuracy.
How transcription services can help
Taking minutes, as you can see, is a hard process that requires great attention to detail. It may be a better practice to simply record your meetings and then get the minutes professionally transcribed by a dedicated transcription service.
Transcription services save time and effort on the part of administrative staff. They save resources and guarantee quality so businesses can ensure that meeting minutes will be of strategic use to their teams. They simplify an arduous task, meaning the person taking the minutes can be fully focused and present within the meeting. However, if you were to take minutes, how would you go about it?
The process of taking minutes
When it comes to taking minutes, is there a prescribed way to do it or are minute takers free to decide which methodology works best for them?
While some businesses may have a set way of taking minutes, generally minute takers are free to follow the method that suits them (just as long as it guarantees accuracy). Let’s take a closer look at the process, so you can have the best possible chance of doing it the right way:
Know how you’ll record the minutes
Writing longhand may be too cumbersome and time consuming for keeping up with the flow of the conversation. This is why many minute takers are proficient in shorthand. If you don’t know shorthand (and don’t have the time to learn), it may be worth bringing a laptop into the meeting room and typing notes as you go.
Typing your notes
In order to be present in the meeting while also recording the conversation, the best strategy is to prioritise what you choose to document, so you can take notes as comprehensively as possible which can be fleshed out later. Important information might include:
- Dates and times
- Names and job titles of relevant personnel
- Actions taken or agreed
- Steps or actions proposed
- Voting outcomes
- Motions taken (or rejected)
- Any items help over
- New business
If you feel that you’ve missed something important, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for clarification. While it may disrupt the meeting slightly, it’s preferable to losing something potentially important.
Finally, remember that while your notes should be comprehensive, you can’t possibly log everything.
Use a minutes template
Converting your notes into structured minutes may seem like a daunting task, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. As such, it may be pertinent to use a minutes template which will provide an initial structure for you to add your notes to after the meeting. You can find plenty of minutes templates online or collaborate with other members of your team to create one that is hyper-relevant to your business.
Converting your notes into minutes
Now it’s simply a matter of adding the raw data in your notes to your minutes template. It’s best to do this as quickly as possible to that the meeting and its contents are still fresh in your mind. Make sure that your meeting minutes are concise, comprehensive and easy to follow.
Ensure that your minutes are neat and tidy by using the same tense consistently, reducing your minutes to just the facts and omitting personal observations or anything similarly subjective. If you need to refer to other documents or previous minutes, don’t try and summarise them in your minutes. This can undermine their clarity. Instead, attach them as an appendix.
Guarantee accurate meeting minutes
As you can see, while minute taking is extremely important, it can be a time-consuming and meticulous process with a huge margin for error. Taking minutes can be stressful, creating an unwelcome distraction from tasks which could be a better use of your time.
Professional transcription services can lighten your team’s administrative load while offering you complete accuracy and ensuring that nothing salient is lost. Simply make an audio recording of your meeting, choose how you would like the meetings to be transcribed (verbatim, full-verbatim or detailed notes) and let the transcription service know what your required turnaround is.
Transcription services can make the process of minute taking much easier for you by doing all of the above for you. This saves time, effort and resources while ensuring you get high-quality minutes that you can use within your business, hassle-free.