In the accompanying main article “meeting roles”, the purpose of a meeting and which different meeting roles there has been mentioned already. This sub-article discusses what you can expect from a note taker before, during and after the meeting.

What seems crystal clear at a meeting may be completely faded or forgotten at the next meeting. The spoken word is simply fleeting. It is therefore wise to record the meeting result in a report, the minutes. For example, these minutes serve as:

  • Information source for absentees,
  • Reminder for those who attended,
  • Means of recording decisions,
  • Basis for progress control.

Preparation

Good preparation can eliminate uncertainty, both when taking notes during the meeting and while working out those notes afterwards. Points that are useful to do beforehand:

  • Read previous minutes,
  • Go through the agenda in advance,
  • Bring an extra copy of the previous meeting-minutes,
  • Bring sufficient writing material with you,
  • Knowing the names of the participants,
  • Reserve time to create the meeting-minutes report,
  • Agree on what type of report you will make.

Execution

Now it is a matter of taking the minutes

  • Choose a good location within the meeting setup,
    • Tip: take a seat next to the chairman at the conference table
  • Take notes,
    • Listen carefully and only then summarizing what has been said. This usually results in notes that are shorter and easier to process.
  • Be attentive to non-verbal communication,
  • Sound recording,
    • Tip: only use audio recording as an aid and when a detailed report is required.
  • (Re) order notes,
  • Mark decisions.

Aftercare

Only after the meeting the main effort is to be made: writing the report. It usually takes some effort (depending on the type of report you need to write). Aftercare includes the following tasks:

  • Create report quickly,
    • Tip: do this within one or two days of the meeting. You can usually still interpret your notes properly, so that the chances are that you come to a reasonably accurate representation.
  • Consider fixed agenda items as place to be filled in,
  • Design the report properly,
  • Reformulate notes,
    • Provide all relevant information
    • Display the contents of the conversation and use business / formal language
    • Try to formulate as neutral as possible
    • The rule is that the record is always written in the present tense.
  • Check ambiguities,
  • Submit draft report to the chairman in advance,
  • Sending the report to the participants,
    • Decision list / action list: within two or three days after the meeting
    • Meeting report: At the same time as the new agenda, no later than one week before the new meeting
  • Process additions / corrections from the participants.

Conclusion

As a note-taker you fulfil an important role in recording what has been discussed and decided during the meeting. In this it is essential that; clear agreements are made in advance about reporting, clear and concise notes are made during the meeting, and that the correct information is subsequently presented in a structured manner in the minutes.

If you need help setting up and/or holding effective meetings or if you want to know more about how Cthrough coaching & consulting can help you as an external chairperson, please contact us.

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