Another client has got a job offer and he starts next week – congratulations!

Part of his job will be taking minutes and he asked me for some advice. There are plenty of books on sale about minute taking but I wonder if he might benefit from the approach we used when I worked for Royal Mail.

A meeting starts with an agenda
Too often agendas are full of items that are always on an agenda, such as the church heating, or items that get discussed but never really reach an outcome. So my first suggestion is to ensure that there is a desired outcome for each agenda item and a set time to discuss this. It keeps everyone focused.

Keep minutes to the essential points
Don’t try and note everything that was said, but focus more on the key points and what the decision was. As minute taker summarise your understanding before moving on to the next item. This should include the action step, who is going to do what and by when.

Be smart with your time
Use a laptop to write things up during the meeting, it saves masses of tme and you can edit on the spot.

Circulating the minutes
Do it as soon as possible. If these need to be signed off by someone you should be able to get it to the person within the hour and circulated to everyone the next day.

I’ve used this both when working with Royal Mail, and also when involved with a church parochial church council, and various voluntary organisations. It makes everyone very happy to get minutes so quick BUT it does take a little bit of training of committee members. When I was involved with my local church one poor elderly committee member said ‘but we always talk about the heating’ but it was a chat with no purpose.

Let me know if you use this approach or ask me a question if anything is unclear.

Published On: September 12th, 2011 / Categories: Career Management /

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