In my last post Does your meeting have to have minutes? I wrote about whether your meeting has to be minuted.
Who is the right person to take minutes?
One of the other questions I ask minute takers is whether you’re actually the right person to take the minutes.
A minute taker requires a lot of excellent skills to do a good job. Having a good subject knowledge of what you’re actually minuting also helps!
While we are excellent at our jobs we’re not necessarily subject experts.
Have you ever been in a meeting feeling like you’re just about to have a panic attack? You’re surrounded either by scientists, academics, IT professionals, accountants or lawyers and quite frankly the participants may as well be speaking in another language.
The best that we can do is take it all down verbatim and then try and make sense of it later.
When later arrives we have a sinking feeling in the pit of our stomachs as we start typing and wonder what on earth the meeting was about.
Someone else could take the minutes…
I’ve had minute takers confess to me they’ve taken literally hours and hours to compile their minutes. This can sometimes mean going back and forth to meeting participants to check facts, content, and meaning. Because of this would it not be more productive for someone else to take the minutes? They know the subject and can word it in a way that makes sense.
When minute takers have bravely taken up the challenge to address this with their managers their request has been met positively (mainly!).
Managers see how it’s not a good use of a minute taker’s time to be in a meeting struggling to take minutes in a subject they don’t understand and the subsequent time factor involved afterwards.
Of course though the next question that arises, is who will then take the minutes? This needs to be handled carefully. The likelihood of anyone in the meeting volunteering is slim and you’ll get the inevitable response, “It’s not my job.”
Rotating the minute taking function
However, it can work. Savvy groups see it’s better for them to take their own minutes. In today’s time-poor environment we all need to work together and teams are coming up with innovative ways to share the workload and that can mean rotating the minute taking function so one person is not burdened with the task.
I have seen this approach work well in some organisations while the administrator, instead of taking the minutes, can still provide a valuable support role to the group.
While taking the minutes at some meetings can become very challenging if we don’t have technical expertise, we can take this opportunity to step up and increase our subject knowledge.
Did taking the minutes for your group become burdensome because of its technical component? How did you cope with this? Did you come up with any other solutions?