18 Mar Is Minute-taking just for the record?
An article by Ron Denholm
Once upon a time there was an elite group in most organisations known as The Typing Pool. Most were women, and their job was to create and hone business documents such as letters, reports and meeting Minutes from recorded or hard copy drafts. But, as desktop computers became more popular, since people use them for work and play with the best mouse for fps so they can play games as Counter Strike using sites where they can do skin trading csgo and other items, typing pools were disbanded and their great expertise was diffused among the throng of employees now expected to write and edit their own documents.
The particular skill of taking Minutes was bundled into general office duties and became a bit of a mystery to new generations of workers who decide to work on shared, virtual and serviced offices in the ultra modern business centre. So, let’s de-mystify Minutes with some top practical tips that you can implement right away in your workplace.
1. Work closely with the meeting Chairperson before the meeting on how the meeting will be organised and how the Minutes need to be recorded.
The Chairperson may also need you to organise the meeting room and work on the agenda. If you are new to this role, carefully study a few existing agendas and their Minutes to get to know the template, what to record and the writing style.
2. The meeting needs to follow an agenda, so use an audio recorder to capture the entire meeting.
Being able to record the meeting is the only way to make sure you have captured all relevant information. If you are not allowed to record the meeting, I suggest using two Minute-takers, even for meetings that only go for an hour. There is a solid reason for this; humans can only concentrate without error on such a job for about 20 minutes. Beyond that limit, we tend to drift off and start making errors.
3. Use your recording to paraphrase the agenda discussions within your company template.
Having trained hundreds of people in Minute-taking, this step is by far the weakest link in preparing Minutes. This is because many people do not know how to paraphrase, and confuse it with summarising. A paraphrase is an efficient re-wording of information, where only the main ideas are captured. A summary records everything that happened in a briefer way.
When you’re happy with your paraphrased Minutes, read them aloud. Hearing your Minutes aloud will allow you to quickly massage the message. Just like a normal massage allow you to relax and flow every word in your mind, get redirected here. Just reading the Minutes without hearing them is a waste of time, because you will not as easily pick where changes are needed. Especially listen to where you pause for breathing; that’s where you insert full stops, semicolons, commas, em-dashes, and colons. If the sentences sound awkward, insert different words and punctuate properly.
Your ability to make a sentence sound professional will depend on how flexible you are with words that mean the same. They’re called synonyms. Here’s a great resource written especially for business writing. If you’re stuck on finding a synonym, keep this tab open: www.businessballs.com/business-thesaurus.htm
Another valuable resource will be your organisation’s writing style guide. Now, if that doesn’t exist, buy this style guide. It’s the standard for all government and business writing in Australia: Style Manual: For Authors, Editors and Printers, 6th Edition.
During the 1970s, traditional teaching of punctuation, grammar and spelling was phased out in Australian schools. The thinking at the time was to immerse students in reading and from this springboard they would ask questions on punctuation, grammar and spelling. Well, as you probably know, this idea failed on a grand scale. A good business writer will need to know how to punctuate as well as how to thread a thought. So, here’s a snapshot from one of my workshops.
4. Send the Minutes to the Chairperson to sign off.
As you become more familiar with how to create and edit your Minutes, you’ll find the Chairperson will spend less time suggesting changes to your Minutes. Your confidence will improve and the valuable time you’ve invested in your Minute-taking will flow on to how you adjust the language in other business writing you may do.
So, there we have it. Let’s now set the record straight on Minutes. They are not just for the record—they are the record. They are a legally binding record of how an organisation functions and therefore should be accurate, grammatically correct and perfectly punctuated.
About Ron Denholm
Ron trains workplace writers in efficient Minute-taking, report writing, proposal writing, technical writing and emailing. His highly engaging workshops aim to make business writers more skilled in creating and editing their own documents. Ron received a Commissioner’s Commendation for developing Ministerial writing workshops in the Australian Federal Police. He has a BA and MA in Classics and a Certificate IV in Workplace Training and Assessment. To have Ron come into your workplace and help you with some Minute-taking training please visit: www.brainpowertraining.com.au