Guest Post – Tendai
I’m excited to have a special guest post this week from Tendai.
Love or hate minutes?
When my referee told me one of the questions asked about me by my future employer was if I was good at taking minutes, my heart sank! It was like pouring boiling water on my crème brûlée. Honestly!
I had applied for this job because of the love and admiration of both the organisation and the CEO, and I was so excited about it, until then! Hadn’t thought minutes were that important! After all, most admin jobs required one to take minutes at some point but not much really, so I hadn’t paid much attention to them. Where I could, I had avoided them completely. BUT, as it turns out they were a huge part of this job. Board, Executive, and Project meetings needed a minute taker – and that was going to be me!
Well, I got the job! And both my new boss and I agreed I’d take an advanced minute taking course to “brush on my skills and give me confidence”, my boss said, as I thought to myself, “to learn the ropes”.
I duly went along to a minute taking course where I can recall the facilitator, Robyn Bennett laughing at a few of us who confessed to recording the minutes using our dictaphones, and listening to the whole tape again after the meeting, to make sure we got everything right. “Why do you do that?” she asked. “Waste of time!”
Quite frankly, most of us didn’t know what we were doing. And we were going round and round in circles. We just didn’t know the right and easy way of doing it!
I see people roll their eyes when asked to take minutes. I hear people mourn when asked to take minutes. I don’t see or hear people singing and dancing about minutes.
Looking back now, I’m so glad I took that course. And I’m so glad I was pushed outside my comfort zone. As a business owner, a Virtual Assistant, I now find providing this service (minute taking) is a part of my work that I truly enjoy. Yes, I do. All-day board meetings no longer scare me and I don’t think twice before saying yes to taking minutes.
- Familiarising self with meeting/subject matter – reading meeting papers prior to the meeting helps immensely. It saves lots of time from repeating what’s already written and read in the reports, to merely understanding conversations as they occur.
- Checking with the Chair or CEO prior to the meeting – understanding how the organisation/Committee works, how the Chair wants the meeting to go, and how they want minutes written. Just because previous minutes were recorded a certain way doesn’t necessarily mean they should be like that always. Sometimes all they need are action points, sometimes proper notes. Best to always check.
- Where/how I record them matters – Personally, I don’t use shorthand. And I don’t waste time hand writing. Typing them straight to laptop or iPad saves me time afterwards as I’ll only need a few minutes-hours to format and tidy up a few things. But this is a personal choice.
- Comfortable seating in the meeting – back in the day, I heard minute takers weren’t allowed around the boardroom table. I think it was to show they weren’t part of the Committee/group, their job was to listen and record. Nowadays, or at least the meetings I’ve attended, a minute taker is part of the team. It means we can hear/see clearly like everyone else. At the last Board meeting I attended, we sat on the most comfortable couches as the Board Chair needed to put his feet up. It felt great, I thought I was gonna fall asleep so I kept reminding myself not to get too comfortable but being comfortable meant I could concentrate on the work not the environment. The minutes were my best piece of work to-date.
So, once I mastered these few techniques, it became a breeze. They aren’t so bad after all!
What about you? Do you struggle with, or have you struggled in past? I’d love to hear your experiences.
Tendai is a business woman, a blogger, an all-around gatherer of information, and a mummy. After years of working as an Executive Assistant (to C-Level executives mainly), she started her own business as a Virtual Assistant and she works with business owners/consultants/coaches etc providing general admin support, social media and email marketing services. You can find out more about her company here
Thanks Tendai for sharing!