As an Executive Assistant, it’s likely that at some point or another your Executive will ask you to take minutes at a meeting. It’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed by the idea of doing so – unlike personal notes you might take, minutes need to record all important actions and discussions for others to review. Keeping track of everything that occurs within a meeting isn’t always easy. Sometimes it can feel like in the time you’ve spent jotting down a point, you’ve missed two more vital details.
If you want to improve the effectiveness of your minute taking, here are some tips to help.
1. Preparation is key
So much within an EA’s role relies on preparation, and effective minute taking is no different. Before you even walk into the meeting you can lay a lot of the necessary groundwork out. Here’s a few things you should always do in advance:
- Note down what type of meeting it is, as well as the time and date it’s being held.
- Record all names of attending parties – check these off against who turns up on the day.
- Locate a copy of the agenda if there is one. Use this as an outline for your minute taking.
- Ensure you have copies of any additional documents that will be used at the meeting.
- Choose your tools – will you find it easier typing up your notes on a computer, or jotting them down by hand?
If you’re going to begin taking minutes on a more regular basis, it’s worthwhile to create a template. This will make your preparations much faster, as well as creating a familiar system for your note taking.
2. Understand the purpose of minute taking
The minutes of a meeting aren’t a transcript. You don’t need to record every word said or gesture made. Knowing this lets you focus on what’s actually important within your notes, rather than getting bogged down in minor details. Your minutes should:
- Outline all group decisions and any resulting actions to be undertaken.
- Note who is responsible for the actionable content discussed, as well as any deadlines involved.
- Record any decisions around budgets for projects or actions.
- Fill in any individuals absent from the meeting as to what was discussed and any responsibilities might have been assigned to them.
3. Listen first
You may feel the need to take notes as quickly as possible during a meeting in order to avoid missing anything vital. However, you’ll find that your minutes are more effective if you focus on listening before jotting down any points. By doing so you’re able to distinguish between relevant information and items that you don’t actually need to spend time recording. Additionally, if you understand the proceedings, the notes you do take are more likely to get to the core of the matter.
By listening first to what’s happening within the meeting, you can also ask questions before it’s too late. If you need clarification around any point, or who is being assigned to a certain action, make sure you ask before the conversation moves on to other matters.
4. Finish writing your minutes as soon as you can
Don’t wait until your memory fades. Writing up the rest of your minutes while the meeting is still fresh in your mind will help ensure that you capture all relevant details. Furthermore, completing them quickly allows you to send them out to all relevant individuals sooner.
5. Proofread your minutes
Remember that this is a professional document, not just your personal notes. Summarise and compact what you’ve written so that you’re only including relevant details.
Before sending the finished minutes to your Executive for approval, make sure you read over them and check for any grammatical or spelling errors.
If you want to shine in your role, take a look at the training courses we offer at Bingo Traders. Designed specifically for EAs, PAs, Admins, Office Managers,… , these learning opportunities provide the skills and knowledge you’ll need to excel.
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