Write clear, concise and condensed meeting minutes and still keep your sanity!

pen 2

Nobody readily puts up the hand to take minutes and those of us who do sometimes fear the job because of the expectation that is put on us to produce discussions accurately.

Not everyone can be a good minute taker – it’s a definite skill and quite often an art, hence the name of my course, The Art of Minute Taking.

There are definite skills required to be a good minute taker and I’ve listed some of them below:



Obviously! More than anybody else in the meeting a minute taker needs to be listening 100 percent of the time (no falling asleep here!). Check out my post here on tips on how to listen for the message.


Minute takers must have confidence to be able to speak up in a meeting (where appropriate) and clarify points. This post will help you work with the chairman to make this task easier.


Ensure you turn up to the meeting having read the agenda, any background papers, the minutes of the previous meeting and with all the tools you need to take the minutes whether that be pen, highlighter, paper, recording device, laptop or iPad. Always take an extra pen.

Knowledge of the subject


It certainly makes the job easier if you have some knowledge of the topic. Learn as much as you can about the topic. This information can come from the meeting background papers, talking to people, Googling and keeping up-to-date by reading articles from within your organisation.

Good command of the written language


Without a doubt not only is it a skill to take minutes at the meeting, but the real work comes in being able to wordsmith a draft set of notes into an exceptionally good piece of writing. This means  being able to produce a document that is spelt correctly and uses correct grammar and punctuation.

A sound critical thinker


This is the ability to be able to sift through the information and work out what it is that really needs to be written down.


Strive to develop these skills so you can be the best minute taker you can. These skills are transferable into other parts of an administrator’s role.


What skills do you think a minute taker needs? Would you agree with the above list?


10 thoughts on “Skills required to be a good minute taker

  1. Kay Strang says:

    Hi Robyn – yes agree with the skills you have listed above and it just reinforces the influence admin professionals have on effective meeting practice.
    Our organisation [CDHB] is focusing on improving the effectiveness of our meetings – and that includes minute taking – as well as making a call about whether the meeting is actually required!


    1. robynfb says:

      Hi Kay Fully support the training initiatives for CDHB admin staff. Every attempt to question whether a meeting is required is a good one!


  2. Tendai says:

    Hi Robyn, Totally agree with the above. Knowledge of the subject stands out for me as it’s sometimes overlooked.
    If the minute taker doesn’t get a chance to read background material or no-one bothers to brief them before the meeting, it can be difficult. It’s so much better if the minute taker has an understanding or has been up-to-date with the subject(s) discussed.


    1. robynfb says:

      Thanks for stopping by – good comment!


  3. Helen Asker says:

    I agree with knowing your topic. I like to read the past minutes too. Sometimes we get thrown into a meeting and have no knowledge of the topic.
    It may also help to know the expected outcome of the meeting. What is the end result?


    1. robynfb says:

      That’s why it’s important to have a briefing meeting with the chairman before the meeting. Something a heads up on agenda outcome helps to target your thinking.


  4. Sherie says:

    Love that you have included Assertiveness here Robyn. So many non-minutetakers/admin people think that we should just sit in the background, but you need to be able to ask for clarification, pull people up on things – like the Chair when they race ahead before someone has seconded a motion etc..


    1. robynfb says:

      Yes, we do need to be assertive or sometimes it can just be a guessing game.


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