Are you taking minutes at your meetings? Here’s why you should be.
Well structured and documented meetings are vital in any business. They’re an opportunity to share ideas, strategies, objectives, company news, and any concerns or challenges colleagues may be experiencing. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why having a deliberate agenda and accurate record of the topics discussed, points made, and plans promised is crucial.
Minute taking is often mistaken for an arbitrary task. We’re all guilty of thinking we can recall conversations with near perfect accuracy but this simply isn’t true. Having a clear log of events means there can be no confusion or misunderstanding about what was discussed, as well as any decisions, outcomes, actions, or objectives.
“A really good Chair is so important. Someone that can reiterate action points, owners and deadlines for the minute taker, keep the meeting to time, and request some items be taken offline.”
Board and committee meetings are likely to cover a wide range of topics, targets, and tasks and so the necessity for clear and accurate records is a must. Minutes provide not only accountability, but a concise record of communication to those involved and to those that weren’t able to attend.
Did you know – we can talk 4 times faster than we can type?
Our impressive ability to convey information verbally is often overlooked. We speak, we listen, but our brain will sift out some of the information as well distil it through our personal filter – meaning that information can be lost, misconstrued, or altered in some way. We may have biases that we’re unaware of, we’re only human after all.
Taking minutes is quite simply best practice and provides:
- Good record keeping
Claire says, “Minuting, or note-taking, should focus on decisions first and foremost, and agreed actions (including timeframes for completion). It helps to provide a summary of these at the beginning, or end, of the minutes when circulating.”
Running an effective meeting
In order to run an effective meeting you need to consider the following:
- A Chair to lead and keep order
- A deliberate and well structured agenda
- Prepared key points and queries
- Encouraged participation and interaction
- An actions list for clarity and accountability
- An impartial minute taker
Lou says, “It’s important that any meeting begins and ends on a positive note. If you want the best from your participants it’s vital to encourage an open attitude and assume positive intent. Listen and clarify points made so there can be no misunderstandings, but if challenges do arise, be sure to critique the point, not the person.”
Minute taking tips
We have some great tips for effective minute taking whether you’re well-versed or new to the process:
- Be prepared and familiar with the agenda in advance
- Log attendees as they arrive
- Agree in advance with the Chair to reiterate vital points and actions
- Document actions, owners, and decisions
- Be assertive and unafraid to ask for clarity if needed
- Remain impartial and stick to the facts
Tamsin says, “It’s also important to do introductions so everyone knows everyone and the minute taker knows who is who and can identify them from their voices (especially if just an audio recording).”
Why hire a professional?
There are numerous reasons to outsource your minute taking to a skilled Virtual Assistant.
Impartiality is really important and shouldn’t be dismissed as folly. When a colleague is chosen to take minutes, there can be an assumption of underlying bias or preconception on matters. Hiring a professional minute taker alleviates this challenge as they aren’t emotionally attached to the topics or outcomes.
Have you ever tried to take notes during a meeting? Have you listened back to an audio recording and attempted to transcribe it? It may appear to be a ‘simple task’ but as anyone without experience will find, it’s easier said than done. There are tools and techniques that a professional will use to take effective, coherent notes, meaning you have the peace of mind that no one needs to read between the lines.
Comprehensive, consistent, and complete
As we’ve established, it’s vital that your minutes are up to scratch. When referring back to your minutes, you need to be able to understand the points of discussion, outcomes, decisions, and actions clearly and quickly. A Virtual Assistant will provide consistency and continuity and deliver comprehensive and complete minutes that are easy to navigate and grasp.
Tamsin says, “Try to avoid including AOB (Any Other Business) on the agenda. AOBs should be provided in advance and be added as individual items on the meeting agenda so people can prepare for the items being discussed, it cuts down delays on getting responses as well as avoiding unnecessary tangents.”
You want your meetings to run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. You want your meetings to be effective and concise. Hiring a Virtual Assistant to take minutes means you can focus on the meeting fully, neutralising the need to stop and start. Your meetings will flow well when all involved are able to have a fluid dialogue.
A VA will have a far quicker turnaround time than a colleague, simply because your colleague has other priorities and the minutes may get bumped further down their to-do list. It’s a VA’s job to be efficient and prioritise his/her clients needs and so the delivery of the minutes will be swift.
So, if you want to outsource your minute taking to a professional VA, contact us today.