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Minute-Taking: Should I Write That Down?

Fight your fear of taking minutes
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Office Management

Minute-taking: Should I write that down?

You're taking minutes in a meeting when the conversation suddenly goes off topic. Or two attendees begin to argue. To what extent should you capture the conversation?

"The problem with side conversations is this: Sometimes people just chitchat and say nothing of value, but other times they say something important," says Joan Burge, founder and CEO of Office Dynamics.

Burge offers these tips for turning meeting conversations into a valuable road map—even when the conversation is difficult to track.

What makes a master minute taker? Perfect your skills here.

Situation: The conversation goes off topic.

What to do: Listen for an action, a clarification or a requirement.

"For example, this comes up when I'm working with a new client," says Burge. "I'm on the phone with them, and they are rattling off tons of information to me. So I'm always listening for key words and phrases that have to do with an action or viewpoint."

Situation: Two attendees begin to argue.

What to do: What you'll need to capture isn't "Bob was really upset about the new project," explains Burge. "Rather, you should be capturing Bob's comment about the project: that he feels it's going to be too big of an investment, or that the company won't get a return on its money."

Do you have a moment of panic when you're asked to take meeting minutes? Do you have trouble deciding what to record and what not to record? Do you leave a meeting with pages of notes you can't decipher later? Are you lost on the follow-up? Master minute taking with the Advanced Minute Taking Workshop.

Situation: A subgroup is having a side conversation.

What to do: Say something like "Excuse me, but is this really good information that I should be capturing?" or "Do you have something you would like to share with me that I need to write down?"

Otherwise, you won't know whether they're saying something important.

Situation: Attendees are using an acronym you don't understand.

What to do: Ask the person who is using the term if he could please repeat it or spell it for you. If it's an acronym, ask, "What does that acronym stand for? I need to put that in the meeting minutes."

Burge says, "It just takes courage to speak up. You just have to speak, and it's your tone of voice and your volume that convey confidence."

Minute taking is a skill that great admins should develop. Just like anything in life, practice makes perfect. The more you take minutes and prepare them, the better you get.

Patricia Robb, a master trainer (and working admin), presents the Advanced Minute Taking Workshop on Tuesday, March 8. This session is designed to assist you in perfecting your minute taking skills so you continue to excel.

Learn efficient and effective techniques for:
  • Preparing for and running an effective meeting
  • Patricia RobbUnderstanding basic parliamentary procedure
  • Communicating with the meeting chair for better clarity
  • Recording minutes (what you should and should not write down)
  • Transcribing minutes (how to do it right the first time)
  • Following up after the meeting
Elevate your minute taking skills to the master level. You'll emerge more competent … more confident … and more valuable than ever before. Register for the Advanced Minute Taking Workshop now!
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