Meeting Minutes, also referred to as minutes of conference, formalities or, formally, official notes, are basically the oral verbal record of an ongoing meeting or oral session. Meetings, when arranged in a proper way, help to bring about clarity and agreement on key issues that face the group involved. By giving a detailed account of the proceedings of the meeting it provides the participants with a precise picture of the discussions held and clarify any ambiguity that existed on the part of the speaker or panel, if any. This is very useful when there is a need to refer back to previous minutes of meetings, official documents or official reports that have been filed. It helps to save time and money spent on re-reading and understanding lengthy explanations and reports.
Official meeting minutes may contain information that is highly sensitive such as financial data, discussions on major projects, legal advice and the details of future plans and action taken. For this reason, these minutes must be well documented and maintained for future references. These minutes can be prepared orally or may be written in a more formal style. Oral minutes will be more informative than those written minutes which are usually prepared by stenographic or text-to-speech software. Since the oral format is more detailed, the minutes may take more time to prepare and review.
How to take meeting minutes effectively
There are many ways in which you can prepare meeting minutes, for example using a template. Templates can provide you with the structure that you require while writing down the content and details of the meeting minutes. By using a template for this purpose you will save time in reviewing the text, arranging the sentences, making notes on the speaker’s contributions, linking the paragraphs, etc. This is especially helpful if the speakers can give clear, concise and relevant information through their speeches and presentations. The templates can also be used as a guide for other members who will need to understand the same information that was discussed in the meeting. A template may also serve as a good template for the next meeting.
Prepare the meeting agenda in advance
An agenda is one of the main components of meeting minutes templates. You should ensure that the agenda item that you create is well presented and follows the general format of an agenda. The agenda is the main reference that everyone will refer back to when necessary during the meeting. It is important to include all attendees on the agenda. However, some people believe that the inclusion of non-attendees should be minimal so as to leave ample room for the speaker to deliver valuable information.
Ineffective meeting minutes-taking is another cause why meeting minutes may fail to deliver its desired outcomes. An ineffective minutes-taker will create a negative feeling among attendees due to poor organization, communication and/or time management. It is essential to develop good time management skills if you are a minutes-taker. A well-developed time management strategy can be implemented during the planning stages of any meeting. Other tips for effective meeting minutes-taking include avoiding checking your email several times during the day, maintaining a regular check on your status in meetings (by making a to-do list) and setting up appropriate project documentation time and once.
The last cause why meeting minutes may not be effective is lack of adequate preparation before hand. You should create and keep an adequate number of draft minutes. This can be done by creating meeting minutes templates or outlines and updating them accordingly. Keep in mind that the final minutes should be written as if you are giving an oral presentation. A well-prepared and effective meeting minutes template should be used to minimize the chances of forgetting key points or areas of discussion.