How To Take Better Meeting Minutes For Your Club (+ Free Template)
You know how important taking the minutes is for your club meetings. It is a crucial task that is an invaluable reference for attendees, non-attendees, and future planning.
However, taking effective meeting minutes can be challenging, particularly during a fast-paced and complex meeting. It’s the sort of task that can fill even the most dedicated minute-taker with anxiety. Will you miss something? Write something down wrong? Will the minutes even be legible when someone needs to refer back to them?
Well, have no fear. Today you are going to learn how to take the best possible meeting minutes. Between working at Member Jungle and being a journalist I’ve had to take notes in a lot of meetings and interviews with some very important and busy people. I am genuinely excited to share with you my top tips on how to take better meeting minutes.
In this article, we will explore how to take better meeting minutes. Covering topics such as preparation, note-taking techniques, formatting, and distribution. These tips will help you produce more accurate, comprehensive, and helpful meeting minutes.
How To Get Better Consistency In Your Meeting Minutes
Consistency is key when it comes to taking meeting minutes. If all your minutes are recorded in the same format and order. It makes looking over them for certain information quicker and easier. This is a great way to improve the quality of your minutes, so let’s talk about how to best achieve this.
Have One Minute Taker
Having one person take your minutes every meeting is a great way to gain consistency. If a new person is doing it every week, the minutes will be recorded in a new way every week. This will make your minutes inconsistent and a lot harder to scan for information. One week the names of attendees will be at the top of page one and the next they will be on the back of page three.
To avoid this, assign the job to one person every week. Make sure the person you assign this task to won’t need to present often, so they can focus all their attention on the minutes. I’d recommend recruiting someone who isn’t usually in the meetings to come in as the minute taker so that it is their only responsibility during the meeting.
This is going to vastly improve the consistency of your meeting minutes. However, if that minute taker is sick or on holiday you suddenly have a problem again. This is where we get to our next topic.
Use a Template, download Meeting Template here (no form fill required)
Using a template when taking the minutes can be a massive help in keeping that all-important consistency. Still, try to keep only one minute taker while using a template, and you will add even more consistency to your minutes. This also allows your minutes to stay on track if that one-minute taker is away.
We have a free downloadable Meeting Minute Template available for you to use.
Get your copy of the meeting agenda template
There are also a wide variety of free and paid meeting minutes templates available for you to choose from. But when choosing a template make sure it is laid out very clearly and has sections for all of the following:
- Date and time
- Invited members
- Purpose of meeting
- Topics covered
- Decisions made
- A section for any relevant visuals used in the meeting
- Meeting notes
If you choose to use the template we have provided, there are a few things to consider. Everything written in italics is for you to replace with your own information. You can use the template digitally or print it out and fill it in by hand. If using digitally, ensure your Microsoft Word or Google Docs is set to show print layout. This will ensure that the layout formats correctly.
Taking The Meeting Minutes And Notes
A key part of taking good meeting minutes is the actual notes you take during the meeting. Not only will these notes have their own section in the official minutes but they will inform a lot of the other information you record in your minutes. So, making these notes as detailed and effective as possible is incredibly important. These notes also need to be taken in a way that is unobtrusive, polite and accurate is also extremely important.
So let’s get to some top tips on how to take better notes.
Fill in information beforehand
Filling in as much information as you can before the meeting starts is a great place to start your minutes and notes. Information like the location, date, time and the invited members should be easy to do before the meeting even starts. Other information like the agenda and purpose of the meeting might be able to be recorded before too, it just depends on how your club meetings work. If you can get to the meeting a little early and write down the names of all the attending members as they arrive. This will save you time later and help ensure you don’t miss anyone. Make sure you only pre-record information that is definitely going to be correct, do not pre-record anything that may change at the last minute.
Take notes during, using a pen and paper
Taking notes during the meeting is crucial to recording accurate and useful meeting minutes. There aren’t many instances where writing with a pen and paper is preferable to using a keyboard, but taking meeting minutes is one of them. You definitely are going to want to note down things during the meeting. However, no one wants to hear you clacking away on a keyboard while they are trying to listen.
Also, using a phone or computer to take notes can make you look like you aren’t paying attention. The last thing you want is people thinking you are not paying attention or online shopping during a club meeting. So, use a pen and notepad during your meeting to make notes. After the meeting, use a computer to type up the official minutes.
You need to record the cold hard facts of what is happening, nothing more. Only record the suggestion being made, who makes them and the things decided on. There is no need to note how bored or sarcastic someone sounds when they speak. Make sure you stay impartial and record only the facts no matter if it is your best friend or best frenemy speaking.
Due to the pace of the meeting, you are probably going to need to write in some sort of shorthand hand. When doing this, make sure the notes you take are clear to you later. There is nothing worse than looking back over your notes after a meeting and wondering what you meant. I once interviewed a forensic psychologist only to look over my notes later and see the baffling phrase “resolution move”. To this day I do not know what I meant by this.
Learn from my mistakes, and write clear notes, your future self will thank you.
If a graphic or table is used during the meeting as a key talking point you should get a copy of it and record it in your notes. Doing this will provide some key context when the minutes are reviewed later. You don’t want to have a whole section of your minutes talking about a profit and expenses table that has been lost time.
Record the meeting
Using a digital recorder or more likely the recorder function on your phone, to record the audio of the meeting. This is a great way to take accurate notes as after the meeting you can sit down and manually transcribe all the information you need. This can save you a lot of time, make your minutes more accurate and serve as proof if the content of your minutes is ever called into question.
A few things to keep in mind. In most states, it is illegal to record audio of someone without their consent. So always ask if you can record audio. Once everyone says yes, hit record and then ask again so you have it on record. It’s unlikely this will ever be needed, but better to have it and not need it.
Don’t trust automatic transcribe functions. Most recording devices have an automatic transcribe function that writes down what is being said in real-time. This can be incredibly useful, but it can also be hit-and-miss. I would thoroughly recommend just recording the audio first and worrying about auto-transcribing later once you have already made a copy of the audio recording. Just like taking clear notes during the meeting, you do not need to find that the auto transcriber has turned out an incomprehensible phrase.
Writing The Meeting Minutes
Using your template and note-taking skills, you have made it through the meeting. Now it’s time to write. Do this as soon as possible after the meeting. You may not be able to do it the same day as the meeting, but you need to do it the following day or two. Not only does this mean you will be able to write the minutes while it is all fresh in your head, but you will be able to get the minutes out as soon as possible.
Remember to use the format from the template, but do not be afraid to include extra things that you feel are important. Even if they don’t have a particular spot on the template. Keep your minutes clear and to the point, you don’t need to write an essay.
Once all this is done, you can get your meeting minutes out to the members at the meeting. Remember to save a copy for yourself and store it somewhere safe where it will not be lost. So, if anything ever requires further clarification you will have it covered. I would recommend a filing system where your minutes can be sorted by date.
Use ChatGPT To Take Meeting Minutes
ChatGPT, it seems like no story this year is complete without mentioning it. It even made its way into the newest season of South Park.
ChatGPT is extremely useful when it comes to taking meeting minutes. Microsoft has recently added ChatGPT features to a premium version of Microsoft teams. This will allow the chat bot AI to write meeting minutes during your meetings in real time. For more information on how this works have a look at Microsoft Teams Premium Launched With ChatGPT for Meetings on tech.co.
If you don’t use Microsoft Teams Premium there are alternate ways to use ChatGPT to write your meeting notes for you. They are less streamlined and involve exporting meeting data from Zoom or Teams. For more information on how that process works have a gander at Creating Meeting Minutes using OpenAI GPT-3 API
What To Do Next
You now have all the tools you need to take the best possible meeting minutes for your club. Though I’d encourage you to keep learning as much as you can and download our minutes template. Remember to customise the template to better fit your needs. If you want learn more about how to running better meetings, have a look at How To Run More Effective Club Meetings.
|Meeting Minute template
|free downloadable Meeting Minute Template
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