Taking Meeting Minutes

To work effectively in any organization it is essential that accurate notes are taken at all meetings. They form a vital part of your communications and ensure that all interested parties are aware of their own and others' responsibilities and timescales.

These notes can take many forms: they may be formal meeting minutes, or an email sent as confirmation of a conversation you and your colleagues have had in connection with a project or activity. For such notes to help you be effective they must be an accurate record of the main points discussed and detail any resulting actions, along with the person or persons responsible for them.

Meeting minutes

Meeting minutes are a summarized written record of what took place during the meeting. They should not be a transcript of all that was said during the meeting. For 'notes' to become meeting minutes certain aspects must be included in the document. The minutes must describe the events of the meeting, starting with a list of attendees, a statement of the issues considered by the participants, and related responses or decisions regarding the issues discussed.

The minutes of certain groups, such as a corporate board of directors, must be kept on file and are important legal documents. Whether the minutes are from a board or a project meeting they provide an important record of who agreed to what during the meeting and detail the essential points and outcomes of any discussions that took place.

Meeting minutes can have the status of legal documents

Being able to produce 'good' meeting minutes is an essential management skill you must perfect. They don't need to be long or complicated, but they must contain the key information mentioned above. You will need to record clearly and simply what decisions were made at the meeting and who is going to carry them out.

Anyone who attends a meeting can be asked to take the minutes and if you are asked to do so then it can be quite stressful until you gain experience. You may even ask one of your team to produce minutes on your behalf so it is also essential that you train your team in this skill.

The best advice is not to try to write everything down but to concentrate on WHAT has been decided and WHO is going to do it. It is often advisable to gain clarification of key points discussed to ensure that accuracy is attained.

This Meeting Minutes Tasks Checklist covers those tasks you need to complete before, during and after the meeting if you are taking the minutes. This Meeting Minutes Template provides a structured means to record all essential discussion details and findings.

While being the person who takes the minutes does not mean that you are unable to participate in the discussions, it is essential that you listen carefully during the meeting to ensure your minutes are a true reflection of the events that took place. This is why often the person selected for taking the minutes is not a major contributor to the meeting. In some cases, as with board meetings, taking the minutes is the minute taker's sole responsibility during the meeting.

Minutes also record if a task has been assigned to a specific person responsible for its completion. The deadline for the task should also be included in the minutes as well as any dependent activities required for the task's achievement. The minutes will frequently contain a review and update on past actions, which is typically detailed on the meeting's agenda.

You may also be interested in:
Elements of Meeting Minutes | Responsibilities of the Minute Taker | How to Take Meeting Minutes | Potential Problems When Taking Minutes | Meeting Minutes Checklist.

Key Points

  • Meeting minutes are a summarized written record of a meeting which detail what has been decided and by whom it is to be actioned.
  • In certain circumstances, minutes may be considered as legal documents, but even where this is not the case they represent the definitive record of the meeting.
  • Often the person selected to take the minutes has this task as their sole responsibility during the meeting.
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