“A wise person does at once, what a fool does at last. Both do the same thing; only at different times.”   Baltasar Gracian

If you are employed in today’s modern firms, chances are minutes are required of you ‘on the fly’. The previous sections make a case for digital thinking – that is, thinking like a word processor so that your work, especially those that tend to follow a pattern proceeds easily at a faster pace. Automation facilitates recording, correcting, storing and disseminating information (e.g. emailed minutes). You can choose to fill-up items manually (from templates you have previously created and printed out) or take your laptop to the venue. Start at your comfort level to prevent awkward moments as you adjust to new techniques.

Your task as a “Meeting Manager” revolves around the cycle of Agenda-Meeting-Minutes. Before you can ‘process’ data in your mind and onto a computer or word  processor, some basic knowledge should be kept in mind since they make your writing purposeful and clear. In short minutes that are actually read – not ignored or archived.

Principles for Successful Meetings:

  1. Meetings have a purpose (review, plan etc.)
  2. There must be a good leader or chair that is fair, firm and focused
  3. Agenda (which you prepare) should be precise & clearly focused
  4. There must be a process or protocol (with terminology clear to all)
  5. Meeting must generate ideas, recommendations, suggestions, timeframes, accountable or implementing person/committee
  6. Minutes should be concise, brief, self-contained and decisive

Minutes are :

  • a record of the people who are attending the meeting,
  • the nature of the meeting,
  • that is the general purpose of the meeting,
  • the decisions that were made at the meeting,
  • the major factors that led to that decision and the
  • action that needs to be taken as a result of the decision.

Minutes ARE NOT a verbatim transcript of meeting proceedings!

Review the following Audio Tracks:

      Listen to or Download Audio Track 9:

 

Listen to or Download Audio Track 12:

Just like the tab dividers of a notebook, thinking like a

word processor helps you

  1. focus on issues

 

The mindset of the modern minute taker in terms of their word processor

Every agenda, if prepared properly, becomes the skeleton of the minutes.

If you are starting a new document every time you do the minutes, then you are creating double the work for yourself.

1. Type the first agenda. We’ll call it Agenda 1

  • Do a “Save As” and call it Minutes 1.
  • At this point both documents are identical.
  • In the meeting fill in the detail in the Minutes 1 document
  • Tidy up and send out the minutes.

2. Do a “Save As” and now call it Agenda 2

  • Now edit Agenda 2 before the next meeting and:
  • Delete completed items
  • Add new Items
  • Modify continuing Items
  • Send out Agenda 2 near the meeting date
  • And the whole process starts over again.
  • Open Agenda 2 and do a “Save As” and call it Minutes 2.
  • In the meeting fill in the detail in the Minutes 2 document
  • Tidy up and send out the minutes.

3. Do a “Save As” and now call it Agenda 3

  • Now edit Agenda 3 before the next meeting and:
  • Delete completed items
  • Add new Items
  • Modify continuing Items
  • Send out Agenda 3 near the meeting date

And the whole process starts over again.

The 3 Vital Elements Which Create

The Meeting Cycle

New Agenda items=>Agenda=>Meeting=>Minutes=>Agenda

The first part is the agenda, which creates the meeting.  The meeting creates the minutes and the minutes create the next agenda!  The checked arrow is new material for the agenda.

It is very important to understand that there is a cycle.  Most people think that meetings are entities in themselves and they have no relationship to the one that went before or the one that is going to follow.  And that is sad because people lose track of projects and they lose sight of the long-term vision of the meeting.

The Agenda and the Minutes are Working Documents

Agenda and minutes need to be seen as management tools – tools to help the meeting run well.  If they are not prepared with this mind, they will not serve their true purpose and are only being prepared for appearances, out of habit or a false sense of security that all proceedings are documented and at hand when needed.

If the Agenda is prepared well, then the minute taking will be much easier because it will allow the meeting, the Chairperson and of course the minute taker to keep on track and not to wander.

Key Thought

The only way a minute taker can take the minutes well is if he or she has physically prepared the agenda. You must do this!

Module 4 B: Points to Ponder

Before you proceed with the rest of the course, take a minute and check which items apply to you:

□  Ready to take your skills to the next level

□  Ready to think in concise terms (e.g. bullets)

□  Ready to let go of blank sheets, recorders and steno pads in favor of □

automated templates

□  Ready for a faster turn-around time that gets praised

□  Ready to write MINUTES that get noticed, read and acted upon.

As your Coach and Mentor, it would be my greatest pleasure if you “checked” all of the above items!