Often we are asked to "just jot down the minutes" and it seems on the face of it, a simple and straightforward task. But in the midst of a busy meeting, with a vague agenda, ambiguous decisions, deviations from the discussion points and possible interruptions, it can become a daunting task. The importance and accuracy of the minutes are obvious, and therefore the following pointers may be of use. They seem very obvious, but I find keeping them in mind before, during and after the meeting very helpful:
1. The agenda - try to have this set out in a logical order. It may be appropriate to have objectives within each point. Keep referring back to this to ensure that the meeting stays on track. I also often refer back to it whilst typing up the minutes afterwards, as a useful reminder of the points covered;
2. The chair - if possible have a quick chat with the Chairperson before and after the meeting. Before, go over the Agenda. Afterwards, discuss any points which you were not 100% clear on;
3. The basics - it goes without saying - plenty paper and pens! But also, if there are relevant ancillary documents which could possibly be required at the meeting bring them;
4. The type of meeting - what kind of meeting is it? An AGM? A Board meeting? All are unique and if you can think about the possible level of detail in the discussions as well as who will be attending, it can help you feel more prepared;
5. During the meeting - listen first them write. Seems obvious, but it's sometimes necessary and makes more sense to stop writing, listen to the discussion, then write down the bullet points. Also, speak up if you are unsure about the outcome of a discussion - better to ask now than to worry about it later.
6. Writing up the minutes - when it comes to typing up the minutes following the meeting, I find it's better to do this sooner rather than later. Even if you type up the bullet points first, as per the Agenda, and fill in then using your hand written notes.