How to Write Effective Meeting Minutes

meeting secretary taking meeting minutes

Board members and executives can’t afford to veer off track during meetings – and need to maximize their efficiency down to the last second.

Yet, all too often, these meetings fall off the rails. Suddenly, instead of talking about matters most vital to the organization, boards of directors get stuck on smaller, sometimes irrelevant details.

So, it’s necessary to put systems in place to prevent board meetings from ambling and halting everybody’s productivity for the day. The meeting secretary taking notes must navigate these waters to produce correct and succinct meeting minutes.

Different tricks and methods must be used to write effective meeting minutes during the meeting to lean everything out to the most fundamental parts.

Have a Distinct Agenda

It’s not as though an executive goes into a meeting and plans to start talking about the Netflix series that they’ve binge-watched for 25 minutes. 

But we’re all human, and these things happen. 

Boards of directors must avoid these time-sapping roadblocks. Therefore, meetings require the rigorous structure that only a carefully crafted agenda can provide. Following this practice will keep everybody’s eyes on the prize.

An agenda necessitates all steps and stages of a meeting being written down.

Of course, each item discussed during the meeting must follow a set of guidelines. Any talking point must adequately fit the scope of the meeting. Furthermore, it must be results-based and conducive to a productive discussion. Then, most importantly, any topic matter should be assigned a reasonable amount of time to be discussed.

Highlight What Matters Most

Board secretaries shouldn’t be sifting through endless notes to find valuable information. They need focus on the important points of the discussion. This will provide executives and members instant access to the critical information so they can cross-reference with ease after the meeting.

Here’s what these highlighted points should include:

  • The name of attendees
  • Items of discussion
  • A calendar containing action items and due dates 
  • The most vital points that were talked about 
  • Decisions that were reached

The Writer Should Be Vocal

Now, these minutes aren’t going to write themselves.

The unenviable task of physically recording these minutes in real-time comes with its own set of frustrations. Speakers might rush through their points, use confusing abbreviations, or just be unclear with their speech.

Stopping the conversation to clarify any potential missteps will disrupt the flow of the conversation but it must be done to ensure the notes are accurate. Those in charge of recording minutes are charged with a vital task. Asking the speaker to clarify any potential confusion will pay dividends in the long run.

However, using an app to take notes that streamlines the note-taking process will keep the writer up-to-speed and offset disruptions to the flow of a meeting.

Think Big Picture

One way to get lost as a note-taker is trying to capture each nitty-gritty detail. This faux pas is a one-way ticket to falling behind. 

Using critical thinking skills as a note-taker is a must. The writer must ask themselves what takes precedence now and what will impact the future of the organization. Don’t get stuck on the minutiae.

Also, leave any emotion out of conversations and summarize them to their most basic elements. 

Using these tips in the next board meeting should help produce more accurate and effective meeting minutes.