zandax online course logo
zandax website search
zandax phone callback
Info, Blogs, Contact & Login

7 Tips for Being Great at Minute Taking

From the ZandaX Career Success Blog

Articles to help you manage and advance your career

Home  >  ZandaX Blogs  >  Business Blog  >  Career Success Articles  > 
7 Tips for Being Great at Minute Taking

7 Tips for Being Great at Minute Taking

A post from our Career Success blog

Article author: Ashley Andrews
      Written by Ashley Andrews
Taking the minutes of a meeting is one of those jobs that sometimes gets taken for granted.

When you imagine a company meeting, you probably picture the executives at the front – commanding all the attention and respect.

The minute-taker, meanwhile, is sitting at the side. They're quietly and diligently working away, barely making a sound beyond the clicking of keys or the scratching of their pen. While others are speaking in booming voices, they are listening and writing.

This gives some people the false impression that taking minutes is a small role. It isn't.

In fact, taking minutes is (a) extremely important for recording and communicating the outcomes of meetings and (b) not an easy thing to do.

Just ask my friend Tomas. This article is inspired by him. Because when he was asked to stand in for the usual minute-taker at his team meeting last week, he totally screwed it up. Afterwards his boss quietly took him to one side, and told him to get his act together.

Tomas was pretty embarrassed. Beforehand, he thought taking minutes was easy, and he just didn't take the task seriously enough. He certainly didn't prepare in advance.

Then, during the actual meeting, he thought he was doing a reasonable job, even if he hated doing it. That hatred must have both shown and spilt over into the final notes. Hence his boss taking action.

Suddenly he wanted to know all about how to become better at minute-taking, and I was only too happy to share what I know.

Since you're here, I'm guessing you're in the same boat. You want to become better at taking minutes? You've come to the right place.

In this article, I'm going to tell you everything I told my friend Tomas. And by the end, you'll know just what to do to be great at this most under-appreciated job.

Why are meeting minutes important?
Let's start by dispelling any misconceptions you might have about minute-taking:
  • The decisions taken in meetings are important, but it's not easy to remember everything that happened. Minutes are an essential physical reference of your meeting outcomes.
  • Meeting outcomes need to be shared with people who weren't there, like shareholders and absent colleagues. Minutes are the best way to do that.
  • In many cases, like meetings of UK company directors, taking minutes is a legal requirement.
In short, taking minutes is a vital task you need to undertake with care and skill. Let's move on to 7 simple tips you can use to do it.

1. Take notes by hand, not on a laptop

If you're a good typist, you might naturally assume taking a laptop into meetings is the best way to take minutes.

  • Studies show writing by hand helps you remember more of what happened in the meeting – which is very helpful when you come to refine your minutes later.
  • Writing by hand also helps you process and understand more of what happens in the meeting.
  • Laptops can be a distraction, whereas using a pen and paper focuses you.

2. Use a template form

Using a template helps you organize your notes. It also keeps your minutes consistent across many meetings. And it's always much easier to fill in a form than to start with a blank page.

You may find that your organization already has a standard template that they use. Obviously, use that.

But if not, there are many that you can find online, so look through a few different ones to find one that may suit you.

If not, you can always design your own, If you do, here are some things to put in your template form:
  • Company name
  • Meeting date
  • Meeting purpose
  • Meeting chair or leader
  • List of attendees
  • List of absentees
  • A table of agenda items with notes. Table columns might include a description of the agenda item, discussion notes, the action/decision taken, and the date for the outcome to be achieved by.

3. Don't try to write everything down

There's no way you can write down everything said by a room full of people. And that's not even the purpose of taking minutes.

Trying to write down every word usually means you write down more, but actually absorb and understand less. So later, when trying to add flesh to the bones of what you have written, you recall very little else.

Your actual goal is to capture the key information such as:
  • Agenda items
  • Questions raised
  • Decisions made
  • Actions to be taken
  • Persons responsible for actions
  • Timeframes for actions
Focus on getting these details, not exact wording.

Don't be too hard on yourself if you aren't brilliant at this straight away. You will get better with practice.

4. Use these handy shortcuts

Over time, you'll probably develop your own ‘shorthand' that lets you write more in less space. But for now, try using these common shortcuts to keep up with the pace of the meeting:
  • Use abbreviations wherever possible, e.g. ‘TBD' for ‘to be decided', ‘w/o' for ‘without'.
  • You can also abbreviate long words by leaving out vowels or writing just the first few letters, e.g. ‘mgmt' for ‘management'.
  • Use initials when referring to attendees.
  • Use symbols where appropriate, such as ‘&' instead of ‘and' or ‘>' for ‘less than'.
  • Create acronyms for common terms within your company, e.g. ‘CSD' for Customer Services Department. Make sure these are unique and memorable, so you don't confuse them later.

5. Type up your notes as soon as possible

Remember, taking notes is a two step process. What you take while in the meeting, and then post meeting, when you take your notes and flesh them out back into full details.

Type up your meeting notes straight after the meeting is possible, while the events are still in your short-term memory. The longer you leave it, the harder it will be to fill in the blanks.

6. Edit and improve

The purpose of meeting minutes is to have a document colleagues and stakeholders can use to learn what happened in the meeting. You need to make this document as concise and useful as possible.

Once you've typed up your notes, work on:
  • Rewriting where needed to make the language as clear as possible
  • Cut out extraneous details, leaving only the key information
  • Using business language and correct English

7. Give participants an opportunity to review

Finally, it's a good idea to let all participants review the minutes before they're signed off.

Firstly, because you may have got a detail wrong or misinterpreted something that was said. That's ok – nobody's perfect!

And secondly, it reminds everyone of the actions and deadlines that were set. And that's just what meeting minutes are for!

Meeting over!
And we're done. You should be feeling a lot more confident about taking minutes now – and you might even have a new-found respect for the task.

I'm looking forward to hearing how my friend Tomas gets on with these tips the next time he's asked to take minutes. And I hope you'll share your own experiences in the comments, too.

More Recommended Articles

Back to the Career Success blog

Click the button for more Career Success articles.

The ZandaX Business Skills blog

Click a panel for great articles on business skills

Write For Us

We pride ourselves on our busy, high-quality and helpful blog, and we're always looking for guest contributors to increase the variety and diversity of what we present.

Click to see how you can write for us with an original and well-written guest post.

ZandaX Blog Contents

Want to see them all? Click to view a full list of articles in our blogs.

Online courses to boost your skills
Click a button to see more about each course
Personal Development
Microsoft Software
Leadership & Management
Sales & Presentations
Service & Support
ZandaX online training course logo
ZandaX – Change Your Life ... Today
All content © ZandaX 2023
ZandaX LinkedIn logo
ZandaX LinkedIn logo
ZandaX LinkedIn logo
Close menu element
See how you score on a range of skills that are critical to your well-being and performance
Communication Skill test
Communication Skills
How Can You Communicate Better?
Would you like to see what kind of communicator you are? And how you can improve the effectiveness of your communications?
Likeability test
How Much Do People Like You?
Do you sometimes wonder just how likeable you are? And wouldn't you like to see how you can (genuinely) become more likeable?

Time Management test
Time Management
How Can You Make More Use Of Your Time?
Are you frustrated by how easily time slips away? Do you get frustrated when things don't get done just because you run out of time?
Assertiveness test
Are you Passive, Aggressive or Assertive?
Would you like to know where you fall on the behavior spectrum? Does your response to events sometimes surprise you?

Close menu element
Information & Resources
ZandaX information
Read more about us, our Privacy Policy and our Terms of Service
See how we want to help you, and how we make everything easy for everyone
Callback request
ZandaX Blogs
Articles to increase your knowledge and understanding in key areas of your life and career.
Read our blogs on Personal Development, Business Skills and Leadership & Management

Time Management test
Log In
Log in to your online dashboard
View your courses, review what you want and download your workbooks and certificates
Assertiveness test
Contact Us
An easy online form to get in touch
With options for More Information, Customer Service and Feedback

Close menu element
Develop Your Skills, Knowledge and Understanding with ZandaX
Click any subject in the listings for more information and a full list of courses

Personal Development
Personal Development training
Your soft skills affect everything you do, at work, at home and with friends ... they are truly life changing!
Online training courses
Hot Off the Press...
We're always adding to and upgrading our courses, so here are a few of our latest releases:
For a full listing of courses, please visit our Quick Course Finder to find exactly what you want.
Site Cookies
We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better.

You can change your cookie settings in your browser. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

I'm fine with this