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The Art of Minute-Taking

The Art of Minute-Taking

Minute taking is an art! Anyone who is good at it is to be commended.

I have never had to take minutes, but I almost did many years ago. My boss came to my desk and told me he needed me to take minutes for a meeting. I was not aware of the meeting so I wasn’t prepared. I started to sweat and my heart started pumping as I mumbled something about it being a long time since I had taken minutes and he had better tell me when I needed to write something down. As my boss and I entered the meeting room I heard, “Surprise”! It ended up that instead of a meeting it was a surprise baby shower for me. Whew! I had escaped once again having to taking minutes.

Is the thought of taking minutes really that frightening? I thought so and I know many others who feel the same way. I recently spoke to a friend who is a minute taker and she passed along her wisdom and experience and I noticed when we broke the steps down, it really didn’t seem that daunting a task and I think that even I could do it.

Of course these tips are general ones and some meetings require more specific preparation, but they should be a help and a guide to you.

What you need to do before the meeting

Whether you are booking a meeting room on-site or off-site you need to ensure you have the space booked for the time and date you need it. If you require videoconferencing or teleconferencing, you will have to arrange for that. An LCD, laptop and a screen will need to be available if there is going to be a presentation at the meeting. You will want to order food if required.

An agenda should be sent to the attendees with the previous minutes and all background documents. It is advisable to bring extra copies of the agenda and attachments to the meeting in case someone arrives and has forgotten theirs.

A preferable way to send the agenda and attachments would be by e-mail, but some offices or Boards now have a website on which they post the agenda and any back-up materials, which can then be retrieved by the meeting attendees or Board members when they log onto the site.

Getting Yourself Prepared

In order to be as prepared as you can be for the meeting you should look at the attendance sheet from the past minutes to know who is on the committee and will be attending. If this is the first time you are taking minutes at this particular meeting, read through three to four previous minutes to familiarize yourself with the issues.

You can also start to create an agenda from the last minutes and present it to be approved by the Chair of the meeting. Once the agenda is approved you can use the new agenda to start the minutes.

If you start the minute template ahead of time and fill in as much information as you can, that will help you to be better prepared going into the meeting.

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