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Tips & Techniques for Writing Meeting Minutes

Tips & Techniques for Writing Meeting Minutes

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Tips & Techniques for Writing Meeting Minutes

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  1. Tips & Techniques for Writing Meeting Minutes “As a minute-taker, you fulfill a critically important role – you become the group’s memory.” To move forward, backward or to a specific slide, move your cursor over the hidden arrows/menu in the bottom left corner of each slide and make a selection. You can also use your space bar (forward); or your Page Up/Page Dn keys (backward/forward).

  2. Table of Contents Orientation Before the Meeting During the Meeting After the Meeting Click on any colored bullet found on the Content pages to jump to a specific section.

  3. This material was developed to help you improve your meeting Minutes. As you work through the slides, you will gain tips and techniques to help you take and write Minutes confidently and effectively. Orientation Consider the Value of Good Meeting Minutes Avoid 8 Common Mistakes Help Your Reader Return to main Table of Contents

  4. Minutes are a vital component of successful meetings. When written clearly and concisely, they help the team work productively. Whether used as a formal or informal source of reference, they: Act as an official record of what took place. Document decisions made and responsibilities assigned. Remind attendees of commitments, actions and due dates. Inform people who were absent from the meeting. Act as review document for the next meeting. In short, good minute taking is a critically important task. Consider the Value of Good Meeting Minutes Orientation

  5. To improve your meeting Minutes, avoid the eight most common mistakes minute writers make: Incomplete/inaccurate information recorded. Decisions not clearly stated. Responsibilities/due dates not documented. Agenda items not addressed. Writer focused (not reader focused). Complicated writing style. Typos and poor grammar. Unorganized in a poor layout. Avoid 8 Common Mistakes Orientation

  6. Use these eight tips to help your reader: Think about what your reader needs to know – not what you want to say. Address each agenda item separately. Include decisions made or agreed to. State who is responsible for what action by when. Provide just the right amount of information to answer your readers’ questions. Organize the information so your message is easy to skim. Write sentences that readers can read quickly. Edit your message to eliminate typos and poor grammar. Help Your Reader Orientation

  7. In this section, you will explore your role. You will discover six steps that you can take before a meeting to help simplify your minute-taking task. Before the Meeting Your Role as Minute-Taker Preparing for Success Return to main Table of Contents

  8. Taking Minutes is not a menial task. As a minute-taker, you fulfill a critically important role – you become the group memory. You are responsible for documenting an official record of what was accomplished and decided during a meeting. You can demonstrate your communication ability by taking and writing concise, coherent Minutes. By taking Minutes, you can also learn to focus on what is important. You develop a better understanding of your team and your organization. . Your Role as Minute-Taker Before the Meeting

  9. Good minute-takers prepare for success. They understand the key issues faced by their team and their organization. They plan ahead. Here are six steps that will help you prepare for success before your next meeting: Talk to the meeting leader to clarify your role. Gather Minutes from previous meeting and any supporting material you will need. Review agenda items and read up on topics you are not familiar with. Preparing for Success Before the Meeting

  10. Use the agenda to prepare a template* with pre-designated columns to capture notes. Fill in what you can before the meeting and make sure it works. Prepare a list of expected attendees (check off names as attendees arrive or use as sign-in sheet). Decide, gather and prepare the tools and equipment you will use. * See sample templates on next two slides If you need to take formal or corporate Minutes, you will need to do some homework! The rules are rigid around motions and resolutions. Before the Meeting

  11. Sample A: Meeting Minutes Template Capturing Information for Meeting Minutes Meeting Purpose: Meeting Leader: Team or Department: Date & Time: Location:Attendees: Regrets: Minute -Taker: Before the Meeting

  12. Sample B: Meeting Minutes Template Capturing information for Meeting Minutes Objective: Leader: Date: Before the Meeting

  13. In this section, you will gain tips and techniques to help you capture the information you need to write good Minutes. During the Meeting Three Levels of Listening Taking Notes Preparing for Success Return to main Table of Contents

  14. Effective listening is an essential skill for taking good notes. It is a complex, multidimensional skill. People listen at three levels: At Levels 1 and 2 the intention is to protect, defend or be right. At Level 3, the intention is to learn, build trust and reach understanding. Three Levels of Listening Level 1: I’m not hearing you. Level 2: I’m hearing you...but you’re wrong! Level 3: Here’s what I’m hearing you say and this is how I sense you’re feeling about the issue. During the Meeting

  15. People who write good meeting Minutes listen at Level 3 during a meeting. Here are some tips to help you develop your Level 3 listening skills: • Listen and stay alert • Identify and overcome barriers • Read non-verbal cues • Listen objectively • Assess what you hear • Ask questions/paraphrase During the Meeting

  16. Whether you lead meetings, lead topics or simply attend meetings, at some point you will be assigned the task of taking notes for Minutes. To take notes adequately, you need to know: WHAT to record WHEN to record HOW to record Taking Notes During the Meeting

  17. WHAT to record Record themes and key points that will enable you to write accurate Minutes following the meeting. On the next three slides, you will find the logistics and key outcomes typically included in Minutes. During the Meeting

  18. Logistics • Time and place • Meeting leader • Start and end times • Attendees (present and absent) and guests • Names of topic leaders During the Meeting

  19. Outcomes • Highlights of topics discussed • Decisions made • Unresolved issues • Agreed upon actions and deadlines • Person responsible for each action • Date of next meeting During the Meeting

  20. More formal meetings will also include these outcomes: • Reading of the last Minutes • Motions – who made them and voting results • Motions to be voted on at future meetings During the Meeting

  21. WHEN to record When productive ideas are flowing or constructive problem solving is in progress, you should capture as much as possible. However, if a group is frustrated or feeling blocked, they may need to vent their feelings before they can move on. Stop recording and simply let the conversation run free for a while. Also, if highly confidential or sensitive information is being shared, stop recording – unless the group agrees to a written record and you agree on a plan for keeping flip charts or written notes secure. During the Meeting

  22. HOW to record. • Below are some key things to consider when choosing your media and recording the discussion. • Choosing your media: • Pen & paper: If taking notes by hand, you can capture themon a pad of paper or in a meeting template. List out the agenda items and leave plenty of white space to capture key outcomes. Also bring backup supplies. • Laptop or notebook:If you type faster than you write, you may choose to use a laptop or notebook. Pre-planning is vital. List the agenda items in a blank document or meeting template. Charge the battery and bring the AC adapter. During the Meeting

  23. Audio recorder:This is a great back up tool for your notes. You can refer to the recording if your notes are unclear or missing key outcomes. However, check with the meeting leader before you use a recording device during a meeting. • Keeping up with the discussion: • Speed up your note taking by using abbreviations: • Commonly-used abbreviations:For a list, consult a recent dictionary; ex. department = dept, at = @ • Consonants only: Write only the consonants – leave out the vowels; ex. manager = mngr, key point = kypnt • Cut out the middle: For small words with just one syllable, try writing just the first and last letter; ex. desk = dk, heart = ht During the Meeting

  24. Here are eight steps that will help you prepare for success during your next meeting: Make a seating map with everyone’s name as they sit around the table to help you quickly identify who says what. Record what was done, rather than what was said. Think in terms of major issues discussed, major points raised and decisions agreed upon. Use bullet points to capture responsibilities assigned during the meeting. Identify who is responsible for what and by when. Preparing for Success During the Meeting

  25. Use a prepared template to capture the information. If using a tape recorder, turn it on! Listen actively. If unsure about a key statement or decision, ask for clarification. Collect documents you will need to attach to the Minutes. (e.g. reports, estimates). Don't record every single comment. Concentrate on the gist of the discussion and take enough notes to summarize it later. During the Meeting

  26. In this section, you will learn how to plan and organize your Minutes, and to write in a style that is clear and easy to understand. After the Meeting Preparing & Organizing Your Minutes Write in High Impact Style Refine Your Minutes Preparing for Success Return to main Table of Contents

  27. Preparing & OrganizingYour Minutes The best time to write your Minutes is immediately following the meeting when the discussions are fresh in your memory. Prepare and organize your Minutes by: • Using the agenda to help organize your Minutes (list the agenda items in order and identify the topic leader). • Writing the highlights of the discussion for each item or topic. • Summing up each agenda item with decisions made, actions and responsibilities assigned, deadlines and key players. • Writing and distributing the Minutes within 48 hours. On the next slide, you will find an Action Minutes Template that will help you to prepare and organize your Minutes. After the Meeting

  28. Sample: Action Minutes Template After the Meeting

  29. Use the Reader Questions Technique Rather than asking yourself, “What do I want to tell the readers?”, give your readers the specific information they need. Use the Reader Questions Technique to determine what information to include in your Minutes by asking: “What information do my readers need to know to do what they need to do OR know what they need to know?” Hint: Brainstorm the questions your readers will need answered and put them in the order they will want the information. After the Meeting

  30. High Impact Style Good business writers write in a High Impact Style. To make your written messages understandable, use the High Impact Writing Strategies below: • High Impact Sentence Techniques • Packaging & Labeling Techniques After the Meeting

  31. Two Styles of Writing The characteristics of both low and high impact styles are compared below. Only one of these two styles meets the needs of the business reader – High Impact. Which style do you prefer? Low Impact High Impact concise to-the-point clear easy vague muddy bureaucratic difficult After the Meeting

  32. High Impact Sentence Techniques The first step to writing in a High Impact Style is to use High Impact Sentence Techniques. When you craft High Impact sentences, you write messages that are clear and easy to understand. Let’s look at the two High Impact Sentence Techniques that will help you to write High Impact sentences. #1. Picture Nouns #2. Active/Linking Verbs After the Meeting

  33. #1: Picture Nouns By using picture nouns in your writing, you will write sentences that are clear and easy for the reader to read. The next few slides will provide you with examples of helpful and less helpful nouns and pronouns. After the Meeting

  34. Helpful Nouns High Impact picture nouns and pronouns create pictures in the mind of your reader. management department procedure I, we, you equipment Picture Nouns policy money computer he, she, they software After the Meeting

  35. involvement viability optimization development modification Less Helpful Nouns Low Impact nouns and pronouns force your reader to analyze an abstract concept or idea. Vague Nouns this, it aspect probability renewal illustration After the Meeting

  36. Vague Pronouns Rather than: It has been noted... Try: We have noticed… I have seen… We reported… Rather than: There is only one reason why the policy will not be accepted. Try:Management will not accept the policy because… Rather than: The side effects are minimal. This means patients will not suffer. Try:Patients will not suffer because the side effects are minimal. Or: The side effects are minimal; therefore patients will not suffer. When you use a vague pronoun as the subject of your sentence, you completely confuse your reader. As well, vague pronouns can make you sound old-fashioned or pompous. After the Meeting

  37. Verb Nouns Rather than: The introduction of the speaker will be made by the Chairman. Try: The Chairman will introduce the speaker. Rather than: The utilization of the new financial reporting process is mandatory for everyone. Try:Everyone must use the new financial reporting process. Some nouns are really verbs masquerading as nouns. High Impact writers take care to replace the verb noun with a picture noun and use the verb noun as – guess what – a verb! The following examples show you how you can transform verb nouns back to the verbs they were derived from. After the Meeting

  38. Describer Nouns Rather than: The effectiveness of the testing was an area of doubt for the manager. Try: The manager doubted that the testing was effective. Rather than: The viability of the procedure’s timely completion is questionable. Try:We are not sure if the procedure’s completion date is viable. Some nouns are really adjectives masquerading as nouns. High Impact writers take care to replace a describer noun with a picture noun and use the describer noun as an adjective. The following examples show you how you can transform describer nouns back to the adjectives they were derived from. After the Meeting

  39. #2: Active/Linking Verbs Some verbs work harder than others; that is, they give the reader information in the natural order of: Actor » Action » Acted-Upon. By using active/linking verbs and the Actor » Action » Acted-Upon format in your writing, you will write sentences that will help your reader grasp the message easily and quickly. The next few slides provide you with examples of active/passive/linking verbs while introducingyou to the Actor » Action » Acted-Upon format. After the Meeting

  40. Active Verbs Use active verbs when the subject or actor in the sentence is taking/going to take/or took action. Sentences with active verbs have High Impact because the actor comes before the verb. Actor Action Acted-Upon (Subject) (Active Verb) (Object) The manager is writing the report. (present tense) The controller will prepare the statements. (future tense) The doctor prescribed the drug.(past tense) After the Meeting

  41. Passive Verbs When you use passive verbs to show an action is being/will be/has been done to the subject of a sentence, you make the sentence more difficult to read. Sentences with passive verbs have less impact because they stray from the natural order of Actor » Action » Acted-Upon…and sometimes the Actor is completely absent. Acted-Upon Action Actor (Subject) (Verb) The project is being carried out by the consultant. (present tense) The report will be completed by the manager. (future tense) The project has been approved.(past tense) (Studies show that people read sentences with passive verbs 14-17% more slowly than they read sentences with active verbs.) After the Meeting

  42. Linking Verbs Use linking verbs in a sentence where no action is taking place. They are called linking verbs because they simply link the Actor (Subject) and the Acted-Upon (Completer). Actor Action Acted-Upon (Subject) (Linking Verb) (Completer) The report is long. Management seems to be satisfied. After the Meeting

  43. Summing up High Impact Sentences To write High Impact sentences that are clear and easy for your reader to understand: Use Actor, Action, Acted-Upon format. Use PICTURE nouns. Use ACTIVE/LINKING verbs. After the Meeting

  44. Packaging & Labeling Techniques The second step to writing in a High Impact Style is to use the two Packaging & Labeling Techniques. When you apply these techniques, you present information in a way that helps the reader grasp the key points quickly and easily, and you lower the possibility of miscommunication. #1. Label sentences #2. Bullet points After the Meeting

  45. #1. Label Sentences The human brain likes to receive information in chunks. By using Label Sentences, you will easily organize information into coherent paragraphsor packages of related information. Label sentences also help you guide a busy reader to key information as they skim through a long message or document. After the Meeting

  46. Packaging Information kitchen appliances Think of your document as a series of packages of information; for example, these moving boxes: Each package begins with a label that tells the reader what is inside the package. Then, when you look inside the package you find out more (ex. cutlery or platters; kitchen or bar glasses; blender or microwave oven). You will find an example on the next two slides showing how one writer planned then wrote a paragraph using this technique. drinking glasses silverware After the Meeting

  47. Example: The Plan for the Paragraph Reader’s Question: How will this type of system benefit my company? Label Sentence: By introducing one of these systems, you will see immediate benefits in three areas. Supporting Detail: • improved employee morale • lower wage costs • less absenteeism After the Meeting

  48. Example: The Finished Paragraph By introducing one of these systems, you will see immediate benefits in three areas. First, because the job will be easier, job stress will be reduced and employees will have improved morale. Second, your employees will be more productive and will take fewer sick days, so absenteeism will be reduced. Finally, with less absenteeism, you will see the cost of wages decrease as you will need fewer temporary employees. After the Meeting

  49. Make Your Point, Then Support It Each time you start a new package (paragraph), you need to signal the reader by using a label sentence which states your main point. Then, you follow the label sentence with several sentences that provide the supporting details. Remember that you can help your readers read more quickly and find the information they need by: • Chunking related information into paragraphs. • Making your point in each paragraph with a label sentence. • Providing the supporting details. After the Meeting

  50. #2. Bullet Points You can help your readers by using bullet points to: • List things. • Describe a series of ideas. • Write instructions. • Highlight important points. • Describe short sequences/processes. • Create variety on a page. Keep in mind that bullet points are not helpful to your readers when you list more than seven items, or when you are trying to persuade or build an argument. After the Meeting