How to take fewer notes in a meeting
Taking minutes can be very stressful – because they are so important.
Clear, concise, accurate minutes help to show regulatory compliance, good governance and accountability. Just as importantly, they provide a record of progress, developments and actions undertaken.
This responsibility means that many minute-takers try to note everything down in a meeting – and then spend hours writing up notes onscreen as they try to work out what should go into the finished minutes.
What strategies can help minute-takers to capture the salient points during the meeting?
Tip 1: Remember that minute-taking is not dictation! You don’t have to get everything down, word for word. Your aim is to note the main point or message.
Tip 2: Find out how much detail is needed for the finished minutes, in advance. Do you simply need to list the decision, actions and timelines – or do you need to add key points of a discussion? This will influence how much you write during the meeting.
Tip 3: Keep your notes concise. Only note down the key points (and key words) that will go into the finished minutes. Not every point that speakers make or every piece of information people share needs to go into the finished minutes, so don’t try to get it all into your notes.
Tip 4: Be aware of the agenda item. If a speaker goes off on a tangent, then you probably won’t be adding it to the finished minutes. Your job isn’t to note down everything – it’s to create a clear, accurate set of minutes.
Tip 5: Write shorter – so you can listen more effectively. You don’t need to learn shorthand because you can develop your own abbreviations for words that come up frequently. For example: rp for report, conf for conference and st for staff.
A training course can provide minute-takers with the skills and confidence to do a better job.