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8 minute-taking mistakes to watch for

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Robert Lentz

by on
in Admins,Office Management

No minute-taking training is complete without some “Gotcha!” warnings. Do you ever make the mistake of:

1. Not setting standards in advance. What goes in, what gets left out? How long should summaries of discussions be? How will voting be done?

2. Being unfamiliar with the terms and concepts that will be discussed. The better your comprehension of the subject matter, the less you’ll have to ask for clarifications.

3. Failing to see the big picture. “If I were looking at these minutes six months from now, what would I really want to know?” is the question you should be asking yourself.

4. Assuming everyone will get the gist. There shouldn’t be too much room for interpretation of what someone meant in a set of minutes. Write them as if no one knows the meeting participants or the subject matter.

5. Not establishing how to signal when there needs to be a clarification or slowdown. Both you and the organizer of the meeting must know immediately when it’s time for a brief interruption.

6. Missing something while scrambling to keep up. The best minute-takers know how to condense things in their own notes for expansion later, when they have time to settle.

7. Letting the details slip. The date, time and location of the meeting, plus the time it began and ended, the type/category of meeting, along with all items on the agenda: Make sure it’s all in there for the record.

8. Allowing dud formatting through. Minutes present a visual challenge to the eye; there’s a lot of unfortunate but necessary clutter. Take a few minutes to make them appealing and visually clear.

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