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    Study Reminders

    The recorder of a meeting’s minutes has a professional responsibility to be meticulous and careful that the right actions and accountabilities are recorded.
    This section will help those involved in minute-taking to follow an accurate and timely process. The learner will:
    Understand the task of taking minutes at meetings
    Understand the role of the chair and other formal responsibilities in meetings
    Know how to take minutes and what to do after the meeting

    The following tips will help you take them with accuracy and ease.
    Preparation - For the meeting itself, make sure you know where you’ll need to go. As a minute-taker, there is nothing worse than rushing into the meeting at the last minute – unless it is arriving late! Leave ample time for train delays and traffic jams, and ensure you have any necessary security clearance in advance.
    Distribution - Distribute minutes from the previous meeting before the one you are getting ready to attend. This will give you and everyone else a chance to recall what was decided, who needed to complete certain things, and what still needs to be done.
    Know the Purpose - To understand the importance of the task, remember that minutes serve several purposes: They are an historical record of a group’s decisions and actions and are a reminder of who was given assignments. They are evidence of deadlines and are a benefit for people who are absent when decisions are made.
    Get the Agenda - Before the meeting, get the agenda from the person conducting the meeting, and make an outline. Doing so will save time, but take accurate note of the order in which the major items are discussed.

    Understand the role of the chair and other formal responsibilities in meetings
    The chairperson for a meeting presides over the event to ensure that participants are following the conventions of the meeting. The purpose of a chairperson is to ensure that the participants of a meeting stick to the agenda, respect each other and respect the rules of the meeting. The chairperson of a meeting also has the final say when it comes to setting the agenda of the meeting.

    The chairperson of the meeting should be involved at all stages of the process, from planning through to follow-up. They may have assistance from other people at times (e.g. finalising plans) but they have the ultimate responsibility for things like confirming the agenda and approving the minutes.

    The meeting attendees are selected individuals and are called for by invitation. They join a meeting in response to a meeting request sent out by the facilitator or meeting organiser. Formal roles may be the ‘Expert’ of the subject to be discussed, e.g. HR, if there are people implications, or a ‘Support function’, e.g. a Finance representative if a financial sign-off is required, or an known ideas-person to invigorate the discussion with creative thought.

    Know how to take minutes at meetings

    At the meeting, sit where you can see and hear proceedings clearly. Prepare your materials for the meeting: your laptop or notepad, your audio recording device (if you are using one), and your agenda.
    Common recording methods include:
    template and clipboard
    tape recorder

    Whichever method you decide to use, make sure you have everything you will need. If it is electronic, make sure it works. Just in case your chosen method stops working, have a backup method ready. However you decide to take minutes, provide ample room on paper for taking notes.

    If possible, have the names of all participants before the meeting begins. If this isn’t an option, pass around an attendance sheet once people arrive. Take note of who is present, who is missing, who arrives late, and who leaves early. Make sure all names are spelt correctly.

    Ability to Prepare for Taking Minutes

    Since minutes must contain consistent information regardless of what gets discussed, it saves a huge amount of time to have a template or prepared fill‐in‐the‐blank form to use so that your time isn’t wasted writing down standard information. In fact, much of the information can be filled in before the meeting actually begins. As you prepare the template, make sure you have the following information:
    Type of meeting (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.)
    Purpose of meeting
    Date, time, and location of meeting
    Name of person who called the meeting to order
    Name of chairman or facilitator if different from the person above
    Names of those in attendance
    Indication that a quorum was or was not present
    Approval of previous meeting’s minutes
    All motions that are made and names of those who made them

    Ability to Minute meetings
    Once the meeting begins, the person taking the minutes has the difficult task of doing several things simultaneously. A good meeting often brings together people who have interesting ideas and a lot to say. Sometimes this means that debates can get contentious, even heated. Neutral, objective minute-taking is all the more important in the face of controversy. So make sure you don’t take sides – either in the meeting itself or in your minutes.

    At a purely practical level, the minute-taker should not be participating in the debate. It’s is a difficult task to scribble or type, and talk at the same time. Perhaps even more important, the minute taker must be seen by the other participants as being objective. Ideally, the person taking minutes should have no personal interest in the outcome of the meeting.

    The hardest part is to understand what is actually being said; to focus on major issues, actions, and decisions and not on irrelevant comments that might be interesting but have nothing to do with what is under discussion by the group.

    To improve listening skills in order to record appropriate information, practice differentiating between statements that are facts and those that are opinions. The recorder needs to stick to the facts. These are pieces of information that are beyond dispute and objective in nature. By contrast, personal opinions are subjective and can be easily disputed by others.

    No one will be looking at your personal notes at this point, but you must be able to make sense out of them yourself in order to prepare them for distribution. Focus on the major points that were made during each discussion and the decisions that the group reached about these points. Your proofreading will ensure that your minutes are not filled with misspelt words, incomplete sentences, abbreviations, and accurate punctuation. If part of your job includes the distribution of the minutes to everyone, you should have them approved by the meeting’s chair or facilitator before they are available to those who need to have them.

    Reflections Exercise – Complete this in Your Own Time

    Listen to an audio recording involving two or more people and then summarise the key points. This will get you into practicing listening, note-taking and summarising skills. Proofread afterwards to check for accuracy.

    Watch a video online which shows simulations of meetings and practice taking minutes from the discussions. Pick those with more than three people so you get a good mix of dialogue. Focus on the major points that were made during each discussion and the decisions that the group reached about these points.