Minute Taking

Last May while I was at the Talent Agenda Series Conference in Nairobi I was approached by three separate people with questions relating to the difficulty of effective minute taking, without relying on outsourcing the role. This blog will discuss a few simple solutions that should increase your company’s internal minute taking skill and speed.

When faced with this problem many companies simply outsource this role in an attempt to quickly solve the issue. While this is often an effective option it is also the most expensive, particularly when this quick solution becomes the long-term fix. 

In most cases outsourcing the role of minute taking for your important meetings is an unnecessary expense. The reason for maintaining this unnecessary cost is to ensure the quality of the notes and to allow your team to concentrate fully on the meeting and not note taking. There are a few simple internal solutions that will allow your team to take effective meeting notes that record the whole meeting without distracting your team. 

For large meetings with multiple agendas it is always practical to have the role of minute taker given to a person who would not otherwise be involved in the meeting. This role should be permanently added to a few junior team members job’s, allowing them to develop the skill. When they first take on this responsibility it would be helpful to have two minute takers in the same meeting, to allow them to split up the responsibility while building this skill. The simplest way to do this is to divide the agenda between the two minute takers, and allow them to focus on recording certain parts of the meeting.

A recording devise is a simple, independent and cost effect solution to your business’s minute taking problems. For your most important meetings, recordings are the best way to guarantee that nothing is forgotten or mis-remembered. However, it is still a good idea to have a minute taker in the room to make more efficient and time effective note. You can then keep the voice recording to listen to if any issues occur.

Tips for simple and effective minute taking: it is vital that the minute taker understands and records the purpose of the meeting. An effective meeting is all about bringing information from multiple sources to the table in order to make group decisions. All decisions that require actions must be noted in the minutes. The actions are the aim of the meeting and the force that drives the company forward. Therefore, the meetings actions must be how you monitor your progress.

Simple and effective minute taking requires these 3 simple steps:
•    WHO: agreed to the action
•    WHAT: was agreed to in the meeting
•    BY WHEN: will the agreed upon action be complete. 
It is necessary to record the agreed upon timeline, as it is vital to tracking your process.

The meeting notes must remain in a consistent format, even if your company has multiple minute takers. Ideally you should always work from one template, if your company does not already have a branded template this would be a good thing to create, a simple template in Microsoft word would be most effective. You must always include:
•    The meetings name
•    The date, time and location
•    The name of the minute taker
•    All attendees
•    Any other businesses present
•    All items in the agenda (these should be sent to all meeting attendees beforehand)
•    The agreed upon dates of the next meeting or any other meeting planned as a follow on

It is vital the minute taker type up their note as soon as possible after the meeting, ideally on the day of the meeting. If it is left longer people are more likely to misremember the meeting.

The minute taker should always try to remain neutral. If a dispute should occur during the meeting the minute keeper should keep their neutral tone and record all votes and decisions factually. Once the meetings minutes have been written up they must be proof read by least two other people, at least one of whom must have been a part of the meeting, before they are finally circulated.

I hope you have found these tips helpful, please comment below if you have any questions or an alternative solution that you would like to share, we welcome all input.