Writing Minutes of a Meeting
Recording meetings are essential to all organizations. Based on these documents, the partakers can arrive at decisions which are crucial for planning or problem solving. Due to this, they should be both accurate and in appropriate detail.
In a typical meeting there are a lot of important things taken up. This is the reason why minutes are important. They serve to implement decisions or as guides to direct the flow of discussions during succeeding meetings.
During meetings, it is important to write notes or minutes, to document what took place. Without this, nobody may remember what were formerly discussed.
We know the persons assigned in writing minutes are the secretaries, administrative assistants, or the support staff. This is not entirely correct. Writing minutes of the meeting must be learned also by executive assistants, and other managers, as they may be appointed, in case the person in charge is not available. The president and its top executives must also know how the minutes are written, so they would know what to look for when reading the report.
The following should be included in the minutes of a meeting:
• Venue, date and time. Be able to write this down as soon as the meeting is called to order. This is helpful in determining in what period matters were conferred and resolved.
• Participants. Record the names of those who attended, and the names of those who were absent. As much as possible, note also the reasons or excuses why the others failed to attend. Note down also the name of the presiding officer.
• Topics discussed. Record matters which were tackled. Present them in bulleted points, noting down carefully the names of those who contributed to the discussion. Avoid narrations, describing what “he said or she said” in details. Do not include awkward narrations like “Mr. Santos punched Mr. De Leon”, or “Ms. Dela Cruz labelled Ms. Vega idiot.” It is important to present the minutes of the meeting in a positive and dynamic manner.
• Materials distributed. Be able to note down if there were reports, documents or samples presented during the meeting. Include also the names of those who prepared those materials.
• Resolutions. Write actions agreed upon, the persons responsible, budget (if any), and deadline. If a votation occurred, note down the results. Be able to capture if there were proposals or motions, and if these were seconded or abstained. Jot down also which issues were deferred, or declined.
• Conclusion. Write down the time the meeting was adjourned. Include the schedule of the next meeting, its agenda, date and time. Make sure you also note who will lead the next meeting (if someone was appointed).
Preferably, minutes are written as soon as possible. Upon completion, this should be typed and submitted to the president, chairperson, or leader so that error/s (if there are any) may be corrected. If already approved, this should be immediately reproduced so that people who were not able to attend may be advised promptly on what transpired during the meeting.
Make sure the copy of the minutes of the meeting is given to everyone so nobody will forget what were discussed. Make additional copies, to be circulated and read during the start of the next meeting.
Remember also, that the key to good minutes of the meeting is correctness. It may become a legal document, which may be presented as evidence in the court. Anyone may question the report, in case data seem erroneous or invalid.
In closing, note that the style and level of detail of the minutes will be affected by many factors, like the importance of the resolutions. It is up to the record taker to use her/his judgement on what is appropriate. With so much at stake, nobody should take lightly the proper taking of the minutes.
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*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.
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