10 Quick tips to start taking better minutes

If you’re tasked with taking minutes for a meeting, it’s important to be able to quickly and accurately note necessary information. But it’s not always obvious what the best practices are in this most essential of meeting roles. That’s why we’ve compiled these 10 easy ways that you can improve your minute-taking skills and start taking better minutes today.

1. Don’t sweat the small stuff

The typical meeting can contain quite a lot of discussion ranging from general chat to heated back-and-forth. There’s no need to note all this minutiae; focus on recording just the main topics, final decisions made, completion dates and who said them.

2. Prioritize actionable items

Anytime someone agrees to take responsibility for an action, write down who it is and what they’ll do. This helps keep everyone on task.

3. Don’t edit as you go

Speed is of the essence when recording a meeting. Wait to fix typos and edit structure until afterwards.

4. Bullet points are your friend

Want to keep your notes organized? Make liberal use of bullet points, arranging the informational content of the meeting in an easy-to-understand hierarchy.

5. Write up the minutes as soon as you can

Promptly transcribing your minutes and making it available to meeting participants will improve the rate at which they act on various tasks and responsibilities set forth during the meeting. A 24 hour turn around period is the norm.

6. Note the start time, end time, and attendees of the meeting

You’d be surprised how many minute-takers neglect to note the timing of the meeting and who attended. These simple pieces of information have the potential to provide much clarity for anyone wondering who should know about what.

7. Record votes and final decisions

Definitely note the results of any vote that occurs during your meeting. If possible, try to record the number of yeas and nays. Informal decisions should be recorded as well.

8. Create and use a template

If you’re the regular minute-taker, the time you spend setting up your minutes document template can really add up. Save time by creating a template that you can use to easily and quickly fill out standard information.

9. Type minutes if possible

In this age of the connected office, many people are quicker typists than writers. Taking minutes on a laptop can be more efficient than writing them by hand and then transcribing them later.

10. Be a good listener

As a regular meeting attendee, it’s easy to let your mind wander off during portions that don’t directly relate to your responsibilities. But you don’t have this luxury as the person in charge of minutes; in this case, it’s more important than ever to pay attention and note information for the benefit of everyone at the meeting.