Business English - how to take the minutes of a meeting
We’ve already found out the difference between taking and making notes, so in this article let’s go into more detail about a specific kind of note-taking: taking the minutes of a meeting.
The ‘minutes’ of a meeting are notes on everything that was agreed in that meeting. Having minutes for a meeting is a very important way to make sure you have a good record of what was discussed in the meeting.
Step 1 – Decide who will take the minutes
If there is one person who always does it, then you can skip this step. If not, decide on one person to take the minutes either before the meeting starts or at the very beginning of the meeting. This will save time for all the other people in the meeting and ensure that the attendees can concentrate without all having to spend time taking notes.
Step 2 – Choose a method (typed vs. handwritten)
Taking the minutes on a computer can be an efficient way to do things because it means you don’t need to type them up later, plus you can add information as you go along. Be careful, though – some companies and organisations require all the attendees to sign the minutes of a meeting as proof that what was written down is what was actually said. If this is the case, write them on paper or print them quickly at the end of the meeting so all the attendees can sign.
Step 3 – Write
The first information you need to record is the time, date and location of the meeting. This is easy and you can do it beforehand to save work during the meeting. Next, you need a list of the names of all the people who have attended. You can do this beforehand too if you know who is coming. If not, make a note of the names of the attendees as they enter the room so you can be sure you have everyone on the list.
As the meeting is happening, make a note of all the key points and who made them. Don’t try to write in full sentences otherwise you will find it difficult to keep up with what is going on.
For example, instead of:
“Simon said that we should try advertising in different magazines.”
“Simon – try advertising in different magazines.”
When a decision is reached, write down what people have agreed to do and if there are things people need to do after the meeting. Write down who will do what and when he or she will do it. You can write this as a list called ‘Action points.’
If you have scheduled another meeting, write when it will be at the end of the minutes. This will help people plan their schedules with plenty of notice.
At this stage, you can get people to sign the minutes if appropriate.
Step 4 – Formatting
After the meeting, you can edit or type up your notes if need be to present them clearly. Use bullet points and put important points in bold so that the text is clear and easy to read.
If needed, you can add extra words to the minutes to make sentences complete and to make it easier to read. If you are doing this, make sure not to add anything that will change the meaning of what you have written.
When you have formatted and proofread your minutes, send them out as soon as you can after the meeting so that the attendees can use them to get on with their work.