View Full Version : Tips on Taking Minutes of a Meeting
I have the dubious honor of taking minutes at a series of meetings. But, I have no prior experience. Can some SDopers give me some pointers? Thanks, Jinx
02-10-2004, 06:49 PM
When I've seen meeting minutes for a work thing, they usually include the following:
A list of who was present
A summary of major topics discussed - maybe some bullet point type stuff
A list of action items and whose responsibility it is
I would say that you don't have to write too much, and that it doesn't have to be too complicated. Is there any way to see what your company usually does in terms of keeping minutes? (i.e. if they have a particular format they like, etc.)
Yeah, I was given a sheet to fill in with these basic headings. I have done support work in various branches of industry. I guess I am afraid from past experiences (in different branches of industry) that things gets semi-decided without clear guidance as to what is specifically assigned to whom. These meetings are more formal, so this shouldn't be a problem.
Is it common to pass around a sign-in sheet so I can get the names of the attendees correct?
02-10-2004, 07:15 PM
Abbreviations are your friend. If you're not familiar with people there, sketch a diagram with all their intials showing where they're sitting. Then you don't need to remember names. If you write a single full sentence, you've missed something else being said.
02-10-2004, 07:35 PM
In a formal meeting you are responsible only for recording OFFICIAL business. Motions, proposers, seconders, declared vote. Business follows the agenda, which is your template for the meeting. Names will be on the previous minutes, of which you will receive a copy as part of the business. Discussion is irrelevant.
02-10-2004, 07:59 PM
Often attributed to Stalin is the phrase "I don't care what is said at the meeting as long as I am allowed to take the minutes".
Minutes are your opportunity to skew the meeting by selective reporting and judicious use of language. Official minutes are simply a record of those present and decisions taken, but this can be gotten around too - "acknowledged", "recognised", "generally agreed" and "decided" aren't synonyms, but can be used as such by the minute-taker who may decide which best suits his purpose.
Almost anything, even if it's all over bar the shouting, will not be universally agreed. This means that you can, if it suits you, minute it as requiring more work and needing a decision deferred.
These techniques may seem sleazy, but minutes are rarely distributed within a week of the meeting they refer to, by which time recollections are sufficiently fuzzy that the minute-taker's notes become gospel.
Finally, if minuting is a hassle, incompetence is your saviour. Stuffing up sufficiently should see you off the duty pretty quickly.
I'd be surprised if Scott Adams hasn't written extensively about the joys of being the minute taker.
02-10-2004, 09:02 PM
As an erstwhile career temp, I had the dubious honour of taking meeting minutes in situations where I did not know any attendees, and only knew marketplace reputation on the companies or associations whose meeting minutes I recorded. Robert's Rules of Order (http://www.rulesonline.com/) were my best friend. Truly. Warning: These rules sound horribly formal, because General Robert had a serious stick up his butt about proper"parliamentary" procedure when he wrote them in 1915.
Much of the foregoing advice in this thread got me through the basics. When going through the "new business" on the agenda, ask the moderator or meeting chair to give you a chance to capture each point clearly and concisely upfront. And if this gets to be a regular addition to your duties, do take the time to at least get the gist of Robert's Rules.
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