The Do’s and Don’ts of Writing Meeting Minutes
Writing meeting minutes may be considered a laborious and lengthy process, but it cannot be denied that the task is essential for organizations and companies that often conduct meetings. The great thing, though, is that making meeting minutes is not the same as transcribing the whole meeting, so not everything discussed in the session needs to be written down. Note-taking only requires a “summary,” meaning a notetaker’s job is to jot down everything necessary while disregarding the rest.
First, meeting minutes should have these essential details:
- Date, time, and location of the meeting
- Names of the attendees
- Approval of previous meeting minutes
- The purpose of the meeting
- Reports and presentations, which might include names and titles of the presenter
- The meeting agenda and subjects to be discussed, as well as other events and exchange of views
- Action steps required
- Closing summary including the next meeting date and time, and approval signature from the meeting chair
Regardless of how straightforward writing minutes of a meeting may seem, it could still be a challenge even to the most experienced notetakers. Aside from having a particular set of skills to be an efficient notetaker, we'll discuss best practices and things you should avoid when writing meeting minutes.
Best Practices When Writing Meeting Minutes
- Create an outline
- Having an outline or a prepared template for your meeting minutes would make the notetaker’s task more streamlined and manageable. It would be much more convenient to jot down notes and the resolutions that were considered during the meeting when an outline is prepared.
- List down the participants as they enter the room
- Listing down the meeting’s attendees before the start of the session will be much more efficient because the attendees and the note taker themselves will be able to focus and participate more in the meeting rather than doing the attendance check during or even after the meeting.
- Record the meeting
- Aside from taking notes during the meeting, recording the session would be a better option. Doing so would help the note taker capture every decision or action made during the session. The recording may also be used as a guide or reference, especially when finalizing the meeting summary.
- Seek clarification if necessary
- Asking questions to clarify something is a good practice to keep, especially when the notetaker is concerned about being able to keep up with their task. This also ensures that the notetaker confirms whether what they listed down is accurate, thus reducing misunderstanding and mistakes.
- Don’t try to capture it all
- As mentioned earlier, notetaking is entirely different from transcribing. Meeting notes should be kept short and direct, so the notetaker should always practice active listening to capture essential keywords or phrases. This would also include decisions, assignments, and action steps that may be raised, so notetakers should always be on the lookout for those instances during the session.
- Write meeting minutes while you still remember them
- Delaying meeting minutes might produce documents with missing data, as we all have limited capacity to remember information. Therefore, it is encouraged to do them while the information is still fresh and retained in our memory.
- Listen more, summarize later
- Active listening is crucial to remembering and understanding what is being said during the meeting. Aside from this practice being a proper etiquette, things might become unclear and confusing when notetakers write while someone is still speaking.
- Proofread your meeting minutes
- Before sharing the meeting minutes with everyone, they should be proofread to ensure that everything is correct and must not contain any errors.
What to Avoid When Writing Meeting Minutes?
- Avoid switching tenses in your writing
- Sticking to past tense works well.
- Avoid making personal observations or judgmental comments
- Keep statements neutral as much as possible and stick to the facts.
- Avoid recording the debate and just record the outcome
- If a debate arises or when people offer their opinions, evidence, research, and experience, none of these must be recorded. The minutes should only include the points that were discussed and the outcomes of the discussion.
- Avoid distributing copies of the meeting minutes online
- When sharing copies of the summary online, make sure only the pertinent people have access to it. Meeting minutes are meant to be shared, but be careful not to disseminate them until the meeting chair has had a chance to review and approve them. These documents should be preserved and are considered part of the company’s records.
- Avoid summarizing documents referred to during the meeting
- Simply attach the documents or refer to them in the minutes, similar to how they are used during the session.
Conclusion and Takeaways
Meeting minutes are a vital part of a meeting process, so it is essential to follow these pointers consistently so it shouldn’t cause any hassle or trouble to organizations needing them, particularly the notetakers.
With how meetings are conducted nowadays and how easy it is to record meetings, allowing transcription companies to assist organizations and notetakers to do the meeting minutes for them would reduce and prevent any inconvenience. For your meeting minutes and any other transcription projects, let TranscriptionWing handle these for you!