What makes good minutes?

What makes good minutes?


Whenever your organisation has an important meeting, it’s vital to accurately record a number of details about who is there, what was discussed and what comes next. For that reason, taking accurate minutes is essential, as it is necessary to record all pertinent discussions and decisions that took place. Minutes can also inform future decisions and help ensure everything that’s decided on is actually followed through.

Without minutes, people may be relying on disparate notes they took, or even just their memories, and these can be unreliable and incomplete. As such, minutes need to accurately reflect the events of a meeting in a manner that’s clear and concise for all. The following tips should help you get a better handle on keeping accurate minutes and set your entire company up for greater long-term success:

Start with the basic details

When you’re writing the minutes, it’s important to come in with plenty of information already jotted down, according to Board Effect. This includes details like the time and date of the meeting, who is or is not attending, changes made to the previous meeting’s minutes, the current agenda (and any additions that have been made to it) and so on. That way, you can start the meeting off on the right foot and be sure everything is accurate before you proceed.

It's critical to take accurate minutes during any important meeting.It’s critical to take accurate minutes during any important meeting.

Understand how to record discussions

The most basic part of recording the minutes is keeping an accurate record of what’s discussed, but within that basic idea there may be a lot of wiggle room. If you can nail down a standardised method for taking note of what was discussed, what actions were decided on, why they were decided and who spoke throughout, it becomes much easier to understand the events of that meeting with just a few sentences.

Don’t be afraid to include images

Often, modern meetings include writing ideas on whiteboards or sharing documents virtually, and if you don’t record what’s on them, some key context may be lost. The Girl’s Guide to Project Management noted that you can do something as simple as taking a screen grab or a photo with your phone, and then include those images in the official minutes document. It’s another great way to provide critical insight.

It’s impossible to record everything

Anyone tasked with taking minutes will struggle to make a note of everything said and shared in a meeting, so trying to do so will only result in frustration, as Wild Apricot pointed out. Instead of taking what is effectively a transcript of the meeting, the people taking the minutes should be confident in their ability to summarise what is said, as accurately as possible, so they don’t fall behind when trying to keep up with more diligent, detailed record-keeping.

To truly ensure that everyone who will need to take minutes in your organisation is on the same page with their skills and can feel confident in recording all pertinent information, ICML is here to help. Our Writing Minutes of Meetings course can be tailored to your organisation’s unique needs, so get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help you.

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