Meeting minutes are a record of all important information discussed and any decisions made during a business meeting. Normally, a designated minute-taker records the meeting on paper or a laptop. Meeting minutes ensure that nothing of significance said in a meeting is forgotten, and prevent any future disagreement about what participants said. Meeting minutes are also helpful for people who were unable to attend a meeting. Ensure that you record everything properly by following a few meeting minutes guidelines.
Gather information from the host, such as the names of all attendants, the purpose of the meeting and the meeting’s agenda, before the meeting begins. This helps you follow along in the discussion. You can concentrate on minute-taking better if you are not a major participant in the meeting. Confirm your role with the host, if you are unsure.
Listen carefully as soon as the meeting begins. Avoid bringing distractions such as cell phones, or, if you brought a laptop, checking your email or surfing the Internet. Stay focused on the discussion at hand.
Record only main points. Writing down every detail is impossible and unnecessary. Decide what is important by considering the purpose of the meeting. Record any opinions or suggestions voiced, issues disagreed upon and decisions reached.
Paraphrase when possible. Writing statements verbatim is not necessary, and takes too much time. Paraphrasing demonstrates that you understood what participants are discussing.
Number your pages, if writing with pen and paper, to avoid mixing up papers.
Ask questions when necessary. Don’t be afraid to pause or hold up the meeting if you need to verify what someone said.
Ask questions immediately after the meeting while the info is still fresh in your mind, if you need to clarify an issue too complicated to bring up during the meeting.
Write as objectively as possible. As a minute-taker, your role is not to provide your opinion or censor discussion, but rather to impartially summarize what was said.
Check your notes for spelling, punctuation and clarity when reviewing them later. Type up a good copy before distributing the minutes to the necessary people.
Nadine Smith has been writing since 2010. She teaches college writing and ESL courses and has several years experience tutoring all ages in English, ESL and literature. Nadine holds a Master of Arts in English language and literature from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, where she led seminars as a teaching assistant.