If you have volunteered or been assigned to take the meeting notes, it’s a good idea to sit next to the group’s moderator. This will allow you the opportunity to clarify and confirm important points on the spot, which will give you a clearer picture of what’s transpiring, and make it possible for you to produce a better set of meeting minutes.
How to Take Minutes
Taking meeting minutes on a laptop might seem to be more efficient than taking notes on paper. But, unlike pen and paper, the laptop will tend to get between you and the other attendees, and you might miss out on some of the nuances that you otherwise would have found their way into your report.
When you take the meeting notes by hand, you will doubtlessly transcribe those notes into a word processing program later on. You will then find yourself reviewing the entire meeting in your mind, solidifying your understanding of what went on, and ultimately you will produce a better account of the proceedings. One caveat to this, however, is that you must make this conversion from paper to computer as soon as possible, or you will likely forget some of subtleties of what occurred.
If you can scan your notes into an image file, there is commercial software available to recognize words and convert them into text. However, these systems are imperfect, they miss a lot, and most pros won’t use this method for that reason.
As you begin this process, it is a good idea to write down what you thought were the most important points brought up during the meeting. These include any decisions that the players came up with, and anything that mandates a follow-up, and by whom. These points are liable to escape you if you wait too long to record them. When you make your report, action items and decisions should each be featured prominently in separate sections.
An important part about how to take meeting minutes is to realize that oftentimes, much of the job has already been done for you. This is because many meetings hosted by well-organized groups have pre-written agendas. Use those documents as the basis of your report, and turning that written agenda into a template with plenty of blank space for your notes is an excellent way to do it.
And, an important part of How To Take Meeting Minutes is to make sure that your report is as useful as possible to interested parties who were unable to attend. An important corollary to this suggestion is to record the name of each individual who attended the meeting, whether or not he or spoke or made comments themselves.
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