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How to Improve Minute Taking Skills in Your Employees

  • By Diana Kawarsky, MA, CCP
  • August 11, 2022
  • 5168 Views

minute taking

Being proficient at taking minutes/minute-taking can be challenging as it requires specific skills. To develop minute-taking skills, you need to be well-versed in note-taking and writing and have excellent judgement and memory skills.

Minute-taking is key for the success of many businesses. This soft skill can help improve productivity, strengthen contacts, boost sales, and invest in the workforce’s needs.

Below we explore ways that you can improve the minute-taking skills of your employees.

What Is Minute-Taking?

In essence, minute-taking is relatively simple. It refers to taking notes and summarizing the important points discussed in a meeting and outlining the outcome of such meeting. This note-taking can include any relevant discussions and actions discussed or planned as a result of the meeting. The minutes must be appropriately reviewed and edited before being submitted for approval by a board or members of the organization.

Who Is Responsible for Minute Taking?

Most companies and groups commonly have one person appointed to take minutes at meetings. This designated person creates an accurate, detailed account of the meeting for the organization’s governing body.

Taking meeting minutes is an essential skill that helps keep everyone within an organization informed and on the same page. It’s useful to have a written record of the meeting because sometimes memory can be unreliable, and it’s easy to forget important details discussed in the meeting. Not only does it serve as a legal record of the meeting, but it’s also a great way to keep members unable to attend the meeting informed.

Types of Meeting Minutes

Whether you’re taking notes from a boardroom or virtual call, understanding the different types of meeting minutes will help ensure that all relevant information is accurately documented. Knowing these different types ensures everyone can stay on top of matters agreed upon during meetings. There are three main types of meeting minutes:

  • Action Minutes: These meeting minutes record items that require follow-up or attention after the meeting and detail the action that needs to be taken, who is responsible for completing it, and when it should be done.
  • Discussion Minutes: These meeting minutes document the topics discussed in a meeting and provide a description of any decisions made and any further research or conversations needed to act on something discussed.
  • Verbatim Minutes: These meeting minutes capture all details of the verbal exchanges at the meeting verbatim so that no details are missed about what was said. One of the benefits of verbatim minutes is that individuals can reference these notes when trying to arrive at agreements among stakeholders involved in the meeting.

Challenges with Minute-Taking

Minute taking at professional meetings can be a challenging and daunting task, even for experienced administrators.

  • The agenda of the meeting might not be clearly defined, leaving the minute taker uncertain about what content to capture
  • There can be too much debate or too many ideas shared for the recorder of minutes to note down adequate details
  • When attending virtual meetings, connectivity issues and time lags can lead to inaccuracies or missed information in the minutes taken
  • It can be difficult to record exact decisions if conclusions are not made during the meeting itself
  • Professional minute takers must possess speed and accuracy when attempting to capture all relevant points accurately

How to Take Minutes in a Meeting

Effective minute-taking is a crucial skill to obtain, particularly in the modern world of remote meetings and virtual discussions. More and more companies are holding informal and formal online meetings as employees and management work remotely.

Learning how to take minutes—whether in person or remotely—can help open more doors for employees within their organization.

Here are some minute-taking tips to consider.

How to Take Minutes in a Meeting

Get Clarity About the Meeting Agenda

Knowing what topics will be discussed and the objectives of the meeting can help bring focus to the minute-taker’s work. Additionally, having a clear idea of who is participating can ensure that everyone’s input is captured.

Be Prepared

When taking minutes remotely, having a good internet connection beforehand can prevent disruption in the middle of managing your documents and notes. Moreover, it’s important to have something to write with and on, like pen and paper, laptop/tablet, and notepad.

Record Online Meetings

Online meetings allow discussion amongst large groups of people—sometimes this could involve hundreds of participants. Because of this, important points and decisions can get lost in translation or missed. Having an online meeting recorded provides an accurate backup to ensure everyone is on the same page. The minute-taker can not only record the minutes, but they can also record the video call should you want to refer back to it in the future.

Create a Minute-Taking Format

To help with remote meetings, create a template that can be used for minutes, agendas, and other documented meetings. Having an outline with proper formatting, classification, and general information can provide a guideline for an efficiently run meeting. In addition, a minute-taking format offers a unified platform for everyone involved.

Team Up with the Meeting Chair

Each meeting has a spokesperson or a meeting chairperson. This designated individual is the one person a minute-taker will contact for verification or answers to concerns they may have about the meeting content or attendance. A chairperson and the minute-taker should work closely together (via phone, video, or in person if possible) to organize and prepare for a meeting.

Keep Track of Attendance

To help formulate a more accurate account of the meeting, keep a correct attendance record. Online meetings with video can make it easy to verify attendees. As minute-taker, it can be mandated that each participant confirms during the call their name and title to be documented. This confirmation helps to ensure all names are correctly spelled and pronounced and that you have a contact list for further enquiries.

Interrupt if Required

During a meeting or conference call, modern technology can create hiccups such as dropped signals or lagging connections. As part of a minute-taker’s responsibility, critical details need to be documented. If at any time communication is paused, interrupt the speaker to ask them to repeat themselves.

Make a Note of the Challenges 

Ensure to note the challenges that arise in the project discussed during the meeting. Having these challenges documented is beneficial because having this information readily available serves as a helpful reference when revisiting the project at hand. Highlighting any complications or areas of improvement will help steer the group in doing what’s best and improve overall efficiency.

Keep Track of What’s on Hold

It is key to note down everything discussed or put on hold, along with why something might have been held back at any point. Keeping a record helps keep conversations organized, avoids confusion when revisiting the topic at a later date, and ensures everyone involved is kept up to date.

Proofread the Minutes

Before sharing the minutes of a meeting with team members, it is essential to proofread the notes taken. Doing so will ensure accuracy in the content and check whether all important points are noted down correctly. To proofread them thoroughly, it is best to avoid skimming through and instead read them out loud, which helps capture any missing information, errors or typos.

Distribute Meeting Notes

To ensure accuracy and efficiency, distributing meeting notes after the meeting can be done in an environmentally friendly way by sharing online instead of printing out hard copies. All parties involved should have easy access to the notes, and it is advised to receive final approval from the spokesperson or chairperson before the distribution of notes.

Things to Avoid Writing in Your Meeting Minutes

Meeting minutes should comprehensively record the conversation and the decisions made. Therefore, it is important to accurately capture only the key aspects of the meeting in a clear, straightforward way and avoid the following mistakes:

  • Don’t use inhibiting dialogue or add extra information
  • Don’t include statements of opinion, speculation, or jokes, as they can complicate the interpretation
  • Don’t add unnecessary detail, such as participants’ facial expressions or tones. These nonverbal communication cues are better transmitted through presence at the meeting itself.
  • No notes should be taken during confidential matters discussed. The individuals involved would much rather discuss them separately with their leader.

Must-Have Minute-Taking Skills

To be a successful minute-taker, several skills are required. Fortunately, these skills can be learned through proper training and practice.

Business Writing Skills

Business writing skills include writing documentation and communication in a professional setting, such as emails, proposals, memos, and notes. The content needs to be clear and concise, focusing on effective communication for all parties.

Organization Skills

It takes good organizational skills to ensure a job is done well in the workforce. A minute-taker needs to have a good understanding of the upcoming agenda, have background information on topics to be discussed, have a record of previous meetings, and know how to organize the minutes effectively.

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a top soft skill that helps differentiate between the important matters discussed and what is known as filler. Most meetings only require a detailed summary of the topics discussed and decisions made, so a minute-taker needs to understand how to distinguish between what is relevant and what is not.

Active Listening Skills

While active listening skills may be an obvious part of being a minute-taker, this refers to being able to tune into the meaning of the conversation or discussion. Aside from paying close attention to all speakers, a minute-taker must be able to identify information into appropriate classifications.

Assertiveness

Assertiveness refers to being confident in an assuring way with no presence of aggressiveness. A minute-taking must be assertive when the meeting discussion becomes muddled. Speaking up to have topics clarified or repeated is essential to ensure the minutes recorded are accurate.

How Can TSSG Help with Improving Minute-Taking Skills?

The Soft Skills Group offers comprehensive soft skills training workshops and seminars, both in-person and online, to small and large organizations and businesses. As the demand for professional minute-taking skills grows, we can help your employees obtain the proper skills. Investing in your employees helps establish an accountable structure for your business and creates an efficient and productive environment.

Call our friendly representatives today to discuss how our Business Writing Skills Workshop can improve communication in your company or organization.

Diana Kawarsky, MA, CCP

Diana is President of The Soft Skills Group Inc., and a senior training & development professional with over 20 years of experience in delivery, design & consulting with Fortune 500 companies, Universities & Colleges in Canada, USA, Europe, and Asia. Read More