The essence of taking meeting minutes is to record the main ideas and action points of the meeting without extraneous information. The notes aren't intended to be a play-by-play of everything that occurred in the meeting room, unless your employer requests this.
Here’s an outline to help make note-taking a breeze and keep you focused on the task:
- Make notes only of decisions made, meeting accomplishments and agreements, and actions to be taken by those in attendance.
- Use a template to help you quickly organize the notes for each meeting. Include the date, time and location of the meeting, and the name or subject of the gathering. List all attendees, as well as those who were invited but not present. Include your name as the minutes taker and the next scheduled meeting date and time.
- Type the minutes shortly after the meeting. If you wait, you may not be able to accurately decode your notes several days later. Also, you'll need to circulate the minutes in a timely manner so that the notes are most useful . This gives those with deliverables enough time to complete their tasks.
- Leave out any unnecessary detail or incidental side discussions not related to the meeting agenda.
- Stay neutral, using unbiased language.
- Prepare yourself by getting some background to gain an understanding of what will be discussed at the meeting. Read any handouts and clarify anything that's unclear in advance. With advanced preparation , you’ll be able to listen more than you write, summarizing at each pause in the discussion. (Spending most of the time writing might cause you to lose track of the next important point.)
- Write in the third person and use the past tense. If acceptable at your company, use initials to avoid repeatedly writing full names.
- Don’t include detail of any meeting handouts in the minutes. Note only action points arising from the conversation.