10 Tips for Effective Meeting Minutes

By | Sep 14, 2009

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Symic

A common job duty of administrative and executive assistants is to be able to take effective meeting minutes. Whether you are taking minutes at a team meeting or a meeting of the Board of Directors, the skills are pretty much the same. Here are 10 tips for taking effective meeting minutes.

  1. Always make note of the start and end time of meetings as well as those attending.
  2. It’s a good practice to make note of those who come in late with the time they came in, as well as those leaving early (again with the time).  Trust me, it’ll come up in the future just who was and wasn’t at a particular meeting when a particular discussion occurred.  Make sure you always get that down.
  3. It isn’t necessary to take down everything that is said.  Just make sure to get the salient points of each discussion.
  4. Always write down action items with the person responsible for that action and any deadlines.
  5. Don’t worry about neatness.  You’re going to be writing fast.  It’s more important to get down points than to be neat.  Just make sure you can read it.
  6. Always take extra pens with you in case you run out of ink or have some other pen mishap.  Also, if you’re towards the end of your tablet or notebook, take another just to make sure you have room.
  7. If this is a voting meeting, such as a meeting of the Board of Directors, make sure you note who makes motions and seconds and the results of any vote.
  8. Learn to use Microsoft Word’s Bullets and Numbering functions well.  This will be an immense help to you when transcribing minutes.
  9. After transcribing your minutes, always send them to your boss for approval before sending them out.  She may want to make changes.
  10. Always file your notes with a hard copy of your minutes, so you can refer back to your notes if there is ever any question of what happened in the meeting.

What are your tips for taking effective meeting minutes?  Leave a comment with your tips and be entered into my Starbuck’s Gift Card Giveaway.

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3 Comments so far
  1. Georgia (3 comments) August 29, 2010 10:11 am

    My suggestions: Try to transcribe the minutes as soon as possible after the meeting ends. Memory is a great aid to transcribing things accurately, and as even a day goes by, your memory might become hazy.
    Don’t be afraid to clarify verbiage you’re going to include with the person who made the statement. It’s better than misstating their words or intent in the minutes.
    Don’t confuse minutes with word-for-word transcription of a meeting. As Jodith wrote, include salient points, but don’t try to quote every word that was spoken.
    If it’s allowed or feasible, you might use a small recording device, to clarify areas of your notes during transcription. You might even be allowed to use a laptop, instead of trying to write quickly, which might make your handwriting indecipherable even to yourself. (As long as your typing doesn’t create a distraction for meeting attendees!)

  2. Jodith (182 comments) August 29, 2010 10:31 am

    I always like it when I can use a recorder during meetings. It makes minutes so much easier. As Georgia said, everyone, don’t be afraid to clarify details or to ask follow up questions later to make sure you have details correct. I usually get my boss to review the minutes before I finalize them.

  3. taking notes | Annotary February 26, 2013 4:35 am

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