Minute Taking

by Clare Forrest

Common questions

  1. What if I’m also a member of the meeting or chairing it – can I still take a good set of minutes?
  2. Are minutes the same as the notes you take at the meeting?
  3. I’m scared of missing something
  4. I’m no expert on this subject, can I still take good minutes?
  5. Won’t I need shorthand?

 

1. What if I’m also a member of the meeting or chairing it – can I still take a good set of minutes?

Yes, you can. Every meeting member and the chair should be taking notes too, whether or not there’s a minute taker, so that they can quickly follow up on what was agreed. It’s not difficult to do this and to contribute to the meeting. Just make sure that, before a new agenda topic is introduced, the previous one has been properly covered and you have all the elements needed.

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2. Are minutes the same as the notes you take at the meeting?

No. Notes are your record of what took place and help you to write up the minutes after the meeting is finished.

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3. I’m scared of missing something.

Don’t be. Most meetings are full of repetition – a point that’s made once will be made repeatedly. In fact, you’ll probably spend most of your time waiting for a new point to be made. You can help yourself too by making sure you prepare.

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4. I’m no expert on this subject, can I still take good minutes?

It isn’t true that only someone from the same background can understand the meeting well enough to take minutes. Often, not being too involved means that the minute taker is able to stand back and take good notes.

On the other hand, it’s very difficult to take accurate notes if you are unfamiliar with what you’re hearing. Make sure you understand the agenda and take time to skim associated documents, such as minutes from previous meetings, related reports and so on. It’s often helpful to build a glossary of names and terms. A good glossary makes minute taking easier, faster and more accurate. If you’re not sure how a word sounds, ask someone who does.

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5. Won’t I need shorthand?

Definitely not: shorthand really won’t help you, but good note-taking will.

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