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


Many minute takers have become good minute takers learning by burning ie they haven’t had any formal training and therefore learnt on the job.

Knowing what you know now, if you were a beginner minute taker, would you do things differently? I bet!

Here is a list of things that can be helpful for new minute takers, but also a good refresher for anyone.

Mistake No. 1: Lack of preparation before a meeting


Not being prepared for the meeting will severely affect your ability to write good minutes.

Remedy: Ensure you have read the agenda and background papers so you know what issues are going to be discussed. This means that if there is a technical item or something you don’t understand, you can ask someone about it beforehand. The more you understand the subject, the more you’ll be able to write minutes that make sense!

Also ensure you have all the equipment you need ready before the meeting and test that it works. That’s everything from lap top, pens, pencils, or recording device (if applicable). Lap tops should be fully charged before the meeting. If you’re using a lap top and/or working remotely (either off site or somewhere in your office building) that passwords, log on information and WIFI all work too.

Mistake No. 2: Little or no communication with the chairman

two people meeting

When there is a lack of communication between the chairman and the minute taker at the meeting, things become much harder. The chairman and minute taker shouldn’t operate as separate identities but rather work together as a team.

Remedy: The relationship a minute taker has with the chairman is incredibly important. This involves, where possible, having a briefing meeting with the chairman before the meeting.

More importantly, at the meeting, having the confidence to be able to ask the chairman to summarise key points, decisions, actions and timeframes is crucial. This will make your job as a minute taker much easier and eliminate guesswork.

Click here for more tips on how to develop an effective minute taker and chairman relationship.

Mistake No. 3: Leaving it too long after the meeting to finalise a first draft!


I know! You’ve been to the meeting, you’ve returned to your desk, there’s a deadline to meet, emails to reply to and the photocopier has broken down. Days go by, more pressing commitments take over and then someone is asking for the minutes.

When you finally get the opportunity to type them up, you can’t read your writing and what you sure you remembered doesn’t make sense any more.

Remedy: Try and at least start your minutes as soon as the meeting has finished.

Are you a procrastinator? Block out a time in your calendar, set a time limit, say an hour, and then give yourself a small reward when the hour’s up.

Keep getting interrupted? Find a quiet space somewhere, leave the office, or work from home.

Confused about what to write? Talk to the chairman, your manager or the person who led the discussion.

By being thoroughly prepared for the meeting, building an effective relationship with the chairman and typing your minutes as soon as you can after the meeting will help you be more successful.

Are there any mistakes you’ve made as a minute taker and, if so, how did you remedy them?






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