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How to be a Master Minute Taker: 3 Tips

People frequently panic when they have to take meeting minutes because they’re afraid they will forget to record something important. Minute taking is a skill that people should develop. Just like anything in life, practice makes perfect. The more you take minutes and prepare them, the better you get. Fight against your fear of taking minutes and learn to do it properly and with confidence. Here are the top three minute taking tips to help you diminish this fear:


  1. Keep it simple.
    Think about what meeting minutes are. They are not a word-for-word transcription of what goes on in a meeting. Meeting minutes are a summary of the actions taken and the discussions that are had in the meeting.That’s why you want to keep your meeting minutes simple by only including things that are minute-worthy. You want to make sure to avoid derogatory comments, personal opinions or excessive information about the speakers when you just need to know who they are and why they’re there. Also, keep in mind when you’re actually recording your minutes, you only have to record verbatim motions and amendments to the motions.
  2. Always be prepared for your meeting.
    Follow the 80-20 rule. You do 80% of your work in the first 20% of your time. If you spend the first 20% of your time getting ready for your meeting before it even begins, you’ll have 80% of your work done.Give yourself a little bit of space between each item on your agenda, so you have room to take your notes in the meeting. If you take notes on paper, then you have plenty of space to write, or if you take notes on a laptop computer, you have plenty of space to actually type your notes in there.If you go into your meeting with a minute taking template made from your agenda, you’ll be sure not to miss anything. It’s kind of like a security blanket that you can use to make sure you’re getting everything.
  3. Keep a copy of the meeting minutes after the meeting chair edits them.
    After you pass the draft of the minutes you took on to the meeting chair and he or she edits them, make sure you keep the edited copy.There are two reasons you want to keep that marked up copy. The first is so that you can learn all of the little idiosyncrasies that the chair of the meeting has. For instance, maybe the chair likes certain words capitalized or likes to see the comma before the word “and” in a series of three. You can pick up on those little idiosyncrasies, and make sure that going forward you always hit on those things.The second reason you always want to keep that marked up copy is in case somebody asks later why something was changed. You can pull it out and say, “Because you told me to change it.”If you’re still nervous about taking meeting minutes, we suggest that you find a class, webinar or mentor who can walk you through how to take minutes.The biggest thing to keep in mind is that when you have a fear or anxiety about something, don’t run away from that fear but face it head on. Put yourself in a position to take meeting minutes as often as you can. The more you do something, the better you get at it. The better you get at it, the less fear you have. And the less fear you have, the more your confidence grows.
Note: Try to use the DHS Meeting Agenda template located on the DHS Our InfoNet Home. You might also want to review the 5-part article series Effective Minute-Taking: Tips to Improve Your Meeting-Recording Skills in CS Quest.