In the past, they were a classic secretarial task, but today ordinary office workers and even executives have to write minutes as well. These are usually minutes of results, in which it is briefly and succinctly recorded what was discussed, what decisions were made and which tasks were distributed to whom.
This is especially challenging when taking simultaneous minutes: The person taking the minutes takes notes on the laptop, and what is written is projected on the wall by beamer, where all other meeting participants can see it and approve or disapprove of it. But taking minutes is a complex task in other ways, too. These tips will help you master them:
Writing minutes – 5 tried and tested tips
Solid preparation, attention and concentration are the most important prerequisites for good minutes.
Tip 1: Prepare yourself in terms of content.
Clarify the following questions in advance: What is this meeting about?? Who are the participants, who gets to read the minutes afterwards?? A meeting among experts, which only experts read, can also be minuted in technical jargon. If there are non-experts in the audience, you will have to do some "translation" and take notes in more detail.
Tip 2: Prepare your documents.
If you take notes directly on the laptop, you should do this in a previously created form, in which the agenda is already entered. Then all you need to do is fill in the minutes header and enter the resolutions, to-dos and deadlines.
If you are taking notes on paper: Again, prepare a sheet for the head where you can check off the participants and quickly write in the rest. For further transcription, it is best to use squared paper with a wide margin for notes and additions and a soft pencil or rollerball for writing.
Tip 3: Stay neutral and factual.
When taking minutes, write down exactly what was discussed and decided, no more and no less. Comments and private assessments do not belong in minutes.
Tip 4: Concentrate on the essentials.
Listen attentively to the speaker and try to follow his or her argumentation. For each part of the speech, think about what exactly was said and what is so important that it needs to be recorded. If the speech leads to a resolution, a to-do or a deadline, note it in the laptop form in the respective column. In your paper transcripts, highlight the section in color (z. B. Resolutions red, to-dos yellow). This will help you with the follow-up.
Tip 5: Take care of the post-processing or the editing of the minutes. Clean transcript as soon as possible.
As long as the meeting and its topics are still fresh in your mind, it is much easier to complete the minutes than after several days have passed. The more complex the topic and the longer the meeting, the faster you should get to writing them up.
Book tip on the subject of writing minutes
You can find more concrete and field-tested tips that are useful when taking minutes, plus interviews with experienced minute-takers, a presentation of modern meeting software with a minute-taking function, as well as useful forms and practical examples in my book Writing Minutes, which was published in 2019 in a second and updated edition (Amazon affiliate link*):
*"Affiliate link" means that I get a small percentage for every purchase that is made by clicking on this link.
For more recommended reading for your professional correspondence, visit our book tips page.