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


There are many methods a minute taker can use to take minutes eg recording devices, lap top, ipad, and just plain writing.

Those people who write the minutes probably use their own version of shorthand (tips on how to do this is covered in this post), text language or EasyScript. But what about ‘real’ shorthand – Pitmans 2000 or Teeline?

Shorthand a necessity then…

Many, many years ago, without a doubt, secretaries went to secretarial school to learn how to type and take dictation. Shorthand was a compulsory subject and a necessity. Shorthand would’ve been used to be able to write quickly when the boss dictated a letter, to take down telephone messages or to take minutes at a meeting. It was a very handy skill to have!

…but now a dying art

But over the last decade with the advent of technology shorthand has become a dying art. Certainly in my country (New Zealand) there are very few places you can now go to physically to learn shorthand.

Are you double handling information?

When I first started as a freelance minute taker, clients would ask me whether I took my minutes using shorthand. They would’ve been thinking that this would be a must have skill to be able to take minutes. I would disagree. I did learn shorthand for two years and used it to take minutes, but because I could type faster than I could write and I had a lap top I stopped using shorthand. Typing the minutes onto the lap top saves an incredible amount of time – if you’re writing your minutes in any form you’re double handling the information!

A shorthand typist can be at a disadvantage

The disadvantage of being a good shorthand typist in a meeting is that you can fall into the trap of taking too much down because you’ve been trained to take verbatim minutes. A shorthand typist has to change their mindset – they must summarise the minutes and not take everything down.


As long as you feel confident and comfortable, I think whatever tools you use to take minutes is a personal choice. And that includes shorthand. It’s a good skill to have, but the traps listed above need to be avoided.


So is there still a place in today’s modern meeting environment for using shorthand? Is it a skill that you would want to spend your professional development allocation on? Have you learnt shorthand and do you use it in meetings?





7 thoughts on “Is shorthand still a relevant skill for a minute taker?

  1. Kerry says:

    I use shorthand and I only take down the relevant points and not verbatim minutes. This is a very valuable skill to have so it is ashame that more secretarial people do not learn this dying art.


    1. robynfb says:

      Hi Kerry, Glad that you’re still finding shorthand useful for you. Also glad that you’re using shorthand in meetings just to take down the key points đŸ™‚


  2. Valda says:

    I attend a number of meetings each month and for the formal and larger meetings take the notes in shorthand. For more in-house local meetings I type directly onto the laptop. I find the notes I take in shorthand are not verbatim but are more detailed and this provides the opportunity to decide when typing back the notes which points are a necessity and which I can overlook.


    1. robynfb says:

      Thanks for commenting, Valda. Sounds like you have a great system in place.


  3. Lisa Glue says:

    I take minutes at every meeting I go to formally and informally. I type them on a laptop at every opportunity. I generally type verbatim. I find it much easier, less anxiety inducing, about having the “authority” to reword or summarize.

    Recently I attended a meeting where an individual was telling a story about a work group they were on. They ended up not participating towards the end of the work group because the facilitator and minutes person had a masters in English and heavily edited everything that went out. So much so that the person felt their input wasn’t considered intelligent.

    I try to remember this and strike a balance between; but do find it beneficial to have all the words at my disposal. Especially for justifying my summary.


    1. robynfb says:

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. Yes, a fine line between how much detail to put in the minutes and respecting others’ input. Typing minutes directly onto a lap top enables to have that detailed back up of the conversation if required.


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