Meeting minutes provide more of a purpose than just capturing discussion points. The minutes provide a formal record of the meeting, the individuals who participated, official topics discussed, decisions made and potential actions. In addition, participants can refer back to the minutes if they need to recount any of the specific information from the meeting.

Capturing the minutes does not entail writing down everything that is said during the course of a meeting. Minutes should only include essential elements.

If you find yourself having to take meeting minutes, here are a few pointers to ensure you capture the important information.

Before the meeting:

  • Note the meeting type, date, time, location, and name of the individual chairing the meeting.
  • Prepare an agenda in advance, leaving space to take notes.
  • Prepare a list of invitees. As people join the meeting, you can note who was or was not in attendance.
  • If you are also participating in the discussions, do you homework concerning agenda topics in advance and come prepared with your questions and comments. Otherwise, you will have to focus on understanding the topics and issues while capturing minutes.

During the meeting:

  • Choose the method of recording that best suits you. Some people find it easier to take minutes on a laptop while others prefer to capture them on a note pad.
  • Do not try to write down everything that is stated. Instead, write down the key points made during a discussion, decisions made and any potential action items.

After the meeting:

  • Prepare the minutes as soon as possible after the meeting while the information is still fresh in your mind.
  • Provide the meeting chair with a copy of the minutes for review prior to sending out to all attendees.
  • Send out a copy of the minutes to all invitees once it has been reviewed by the meeting chair person.