Over the years, KumaloGreen has trained hundreds of people who come to us for help with their minute taking. Many delegates find taking down minutes very stressful and feel that because they can’t speed write and do short-hand, they are unable to take down minutes effectively.
If you are one of those people, we’d like to help you and assure you that, minute taking is a skill that can be learned and improved with practice. Below we have narrowed down the top 5 tips and tricks of notetaking that our delegates have found most useful:
i) Create an outline – This comes from knowing the agenda before the meeting takes place. Using this as a template can help you be prepared for what’s coming and speed up the time of note taking. Use the agenda points as the “headings” and make sure you have enough space under each one for any notes you may jot down.
ii) Listen before writing – If you start recording the point of order as soon as the speaker begins, you will be tempted to write down word for word what is being said. This is unrealistic and unbeneficial. You run the risk of losing your place, not hearing all the important points in the conversation, and you may get confused as to who is saying what. Listen to the full point in order to determine what the summary is, and only write down the most important information which includes actions to take and decisions made. If you do miss something, make a note on the side so you can be sure to ask the relevant person after the meeting.
iii) Use Pen, Paper, Shapes, Abbreviations and Visual techniques – It may sound pretty old school, but using pen and paper is still the most accepted and widely used method of taking minutes. Using a tablet / phone / computer may offer up distractions as emails / phone calls come through. Pen and paper allow for more eye contact, which automatically keeps you ‘in the room’ with a more focused mind. Develop your own version of “short-hand” by using abbreviations, shapes and other visual techniques. For instance, you can use visual techniques or shapes that make sense to you (which is also easier to do with pen and paper) ie: instead of saying “Task X needs to be completed by Laurie”, you can just draw the following: Task X Lau. Remember to keep your list of abbreviations with you during the meeting, for ease of reference and so that you can keep building on your list.
iv) Keep it simple – As mentioned earlier, meeting minutes are merely a summary of what has been decided upon. Keep the information down to a minimum during the meeting. You are free to expand on your points later, once the meeting has concluded.
v) Ask questions – You are as much a part of the meeting as anyone else in the room. Gone are the days where minute takers sit in the corner and try not to be noticed. Make sure you are fully aware of the subject being discussed in the meeting. Avoiding assumptions will benefit the accuracy of the minutes and show your eagerness to get involved. Asking questions like “Have we captured everyone’s thoughts on this subject?” will help you clarify the important points and create good habits of minute taking.
We believe that Minute Taking is a skill anyone can learn. So, if you are still struggling with minute taking, book your seat on our Minute Taking Made Simple course and join the hundreds of people who now ENJOY taking minutes. Visit Kumalo Green