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Tips & Techniques for Writing Meeting Minutes To move forward, backward or to a specific slide, move your cursor over the hidden arrows/menu in the bottom.

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Presentation on theme: "Tips & Techniques for Writing Meeting Minutes To move forward, backward or to a specific slide, move your cursor over the hidden arrows/menu in the bottom."— Presentation transcript:

1 Tips & Techniques for Writing Meeting Minutes To move forward, backward or to a specific slide, move your cursor over the hidden arrows/menu in the bottom left corner of each slide and make a selection. You can also use your space bar (forward); or your Page Up/Page Dn keys (backward/forward). As a minute-taker, you fulfill a critically important role – you become the groups memory.

2 Orientation During the Meeting After the Meeting Before the Meeting Table of Contents Click on any colored bullet found on the Content pages to jump to a specific section.

3 Orientation This material was developed to help you improve your meeting Minutes. As you work through the slides, you will gain tips and techniques to help you take and write Minutes confidently and effectively. Consider the Value of Good Meeting Minutes Help Your Reader Avoid 8 Common Mistakes Return to main Table of Contents

4 Consider the Value of Good Meeting Minutes Minutes are a vital component of successful meetings. When written clearly and concisely, they help the team work productively. Whether used as a formal or informal source of reference, they: Act as an official record of what took place. Document decisions made and responsibilities assigned. Remind attendees of commitments, actions and due dates. Inform people who were absent from the meeting. Act as review document for the next meeting. In short, good minute taking is a critically important task. Orientation

5 Avoid 8 Common Mistakes To improve your meeting Minutes, avoid the eight most common mistakes minute writers make: 1. Incomplete/inaccurate information recorded. 2. Decisions not clearly stated. 3. Responsibilities/due dates not documented. 4. Agenda items not addressed. 5. Writer focused (not reader focused). 6. Complicated writing style. 7. Typos and poor grammar. 8. Unorganized in a poor layout. Orientation

6 Help Your Reader Use these eight tips to help your reader: 1. Think about what your reader needs to know – not what you want to say. 2. Address each agenda item separately. 3. Include decisions made or agreed to. 4. State who is responsible for what action by when. 5. Provide just the right amount of information to answer your readers questions. 6. Organize the information so your message is easy to skim. 7. Write sentences that readers can read quickly. 8. Edit your message to eliminate typos and poor grammar. Orientation

7 Before the Meeting In this section, you will explore your role. You will discover six steps that you can take before a meeting to help simplify your minute-taking task. Return to main Table of Contents Your Role as Minute-Taker Preparing for Success

8 Your Role as Minute-Taker Taking Minutes is not a menial task. As a minute-taker, you fulfill a critically important role – you become the group memory. You are responsible for documenting an official record of what was accomplished and decided during a meeting. You can demonstrate your communication ability by taking and writing concise, coherent Minutes. By taking Minutes, you can also learn to focus on what is important. You develop a better understanding of your team and your organization.. Before the Meeting

9 Preparing for Success Good minute-takers prepare for success. They understand the key issues faced by their team and their organization. They plan ahead. Here are six steps that will help you prepare for success before your next meeting: 1. Talk to the meeting leader to clarify your role. 2. Gather Minutes from previous meeting and any supporting material you will need. 3. Review agenda items and read up on topics you are not familiar with. Before the Meeting

10 Before the Meeting 4. Use the agenda to prepare a template* with pre-designated columns to capture notes. Fill in what you can before the meeting and make sure it works. 5. Prepare a list of expected attendees (check off names as attendees arrive or use as sign-in sheet). 6. Decide, gather and prepare the tools and equipment you will use. * See sample templates on next two slides If you need to take formal or corporate Minutes, you will need to do some homework! The rules are rigid around motions and resolutions.

11 Before the Meeting Agen da Item & Leader DiscussionDecisions & Outcomes Action Items (who, what, when) Capturing Information for Meeting Minutes Meeting Purpose: Meeting Leader:Team or Department: Date & Time:Location: Attendees: Regrets:Minute -Taker: Sample A: Meeting Minutes Template

12 Before the Meeting Topic & Leader Objective Highlights/ Decisions/ Agreements Actions & Next Steps (by whom) By when? Capturing information for Meeting Minutes Objective: Leader:Date: Sample B: Meeting Minutes Template

13 During the Meeting In this section, you will gain tips and techniques to help you capture the information you need to write good Minutes. Return to main Table of Contents Three Levels of Listening Taking Notes Preparing for Success

14 Three Levels of Listening Effective listening is an essential skill for taking good notes. It is a complex, multidimensional skill. People listen at three levels: At Levels 1 and 2 the intention is to protect, defend or be right. At Level 3, the intention is to learn, build trust and reach understanding. Level 1: Im not hearing you. Level 2: Im hearing you...but youre wrong! Level 3: Heres what Im hearing you say and this is how I sense youre feeling about the issue. During the Meeting

15 People who write good meeting Minutes listen at Level 3 during a meeting. Here are some tips to help you develop your Level 3 listening skills: Listen and stay alert Identify and overcome barriers Read non-verbal cues Listen objectively Assess what you hear Ask questions/paraphrase During the Meeting

16 Taking Notes Whether you lead meetings, lead topics or simply attend meetings, at some point you will be assigned the task of taking notes for Minutes. To take notes adequately, you need to know: WHAT to record WHEN to record HOW to record During the Meeting

17 Record themes and key points that will enable you to write accurate Minutes following the meeting. On the next three slides, you will find the logistics and key outcomes typically included in Minutes. During the Meeting WHAT to record

18 During the Meeting Logistics Time and place Meeting leader Start and end times Attendees (present and absent) and guests Names of topic leaders

19 During the Meeting Outcomes Highlights of topics discussed Decisions made Unresolved issues Agreed upon actions and deadlines Person responsible for each action Date of next meeting

20 During the Meeting More formal meetings will also include these outcomes: Reading of the last Minutes Motions – who made them and voting results Motions to be voted on at future meetings

21 When productive ideas are flowing or constructive problem solving is in progress, you should capture as much as possible. However, if a group is frustrated or feeling blocked, they may need to vent their feelings before they can move on. Stop recording and simply let the conversation run free for a while. Also, if highly confidential or sensitive information is being shared, stop recording – unless the group agrees to a written record and you agree on a plan for keeping flip charts or written notes secure. During the Meeting WHEN to record

22 Below are some key things to consider when choosing your media and recording the discussion. Choosing your media: Pen & paper: If taking notes by hand, you can capture them on a pad of paper or in a meeting template. List out the agenda items and leave plenty of white space to capture key outcomes. Also bring backup supplies. Laptop or notebook: If you type faster than you write, you may choose to use a laptop or notebook. Pre-planning is vital. List the agenda items in a blank document or meeting template. Charge the battery and bring the AC adapter. During the Meeting HOW to record.

23 Audio recorder: This is a great back up tool for your notes. You can refer to the recording if your notes are unclear or missing key outcomes. However, check with the meeting leader before you use a recording device during a meeting. Keeping up with the discussion: Speed up your note taking by using abbreviations: Commonly-used abbreviations: For a list, consult a recent dictionary; ex. department = dept, at Consonants only: Write only the consonants – leave out the vowels; ex. manager = mngr, key point = ky pnt Cut out the middle: For small words with just one syllable, try writing just the first and last letter; ex. desk = dk, heart = ht During the Meeting

24 Preparing for Success Here are eight steps that will help you prepare for success during your next meeting: 1. Make a seating map with everyones name as they sit around the table to help you quickly identify who says what. 2. Record what was done, rather than what was said. 3. Think in terms of major issues discussed, major points raised and decisions agreed upon. 4. Use bullet points to capture responsibilities assigned during the meeting. 5. Identify who is responsible for what and by when. During the Meeting

25 6. Use a prepared template to capture the information. If using a tape recorder, turn it on! 7. Listen actively. If unsure about a key statement or decision, ask for clarification. 8. Collect documents you will need to attach to the Minutes. (e.g. reports, estimates). Don't record every single comment. Concentrate on the gist of the discussion and take enough notes to summarize it later. During the Meeting

26 After the Meeting In this section, you will learn how to plan and organize your Minutes, and to write in a style that is clear and easy to understand. Return to main Table of Contents Preparing & Organizing Your Minutes Write in High Impact Style Refine Your Minutes Preparing for Success

27 Preparing & Organizing Your Minutes The best time to write your Minutes is immediately following the meeting when the discussions are fresh in your memory. Prepare and organize your Minutes by: Using the agenda to help organize your Minutes (list the agenda items in order and identify the topic leader). Writing the highlights of the discussion for each item or topic. Summing up each agenda item with decisions made, actions and responsibilities assigned, deadlines and key players. Writing and distributing the Minutes within 48 hours. On the next slide, you will find an Action Minutes Template that will help you to prepare and organize your Minutes. After the Meeting

28 [Meeting Name] Meeting Date: Attendees: REVIEW OF LAST MEETING S ACTION ITEMS : TOPIC 1: TOPIC LEADER : Highlights: Decisions: Issues Unresolved: ACTION ITEMS: [by when/by whom] TOPIC 2: TOPIC LEADER : Highlights: Decisions: Issues Unresolved: ACTION ITEMS: [by when/by whom] Sample: Action Minutes Template After the Meeting

29 Use the Reader Questions Technique Rather than asking yourself, What do I want to tell the readers?, give your readers the specific information they need. Use the Reader Questions Technique to determine what information to include in your Minutes by asking: What information do my readers need to know to do what they need to do OR know what they need to know? Hint: Brainstorm the questions your readers will need answered and put them in the order they will want the information. After the Meeting

30 High Impact Style 1.High Impact Sentence Techniques 2.Packaging & Labeling Techniques Good business writers write in a High Impact Style. To make your written messages understandable, use the High Impact Writing Strategies below: After the Meeting

31 Two Styles of Writing The characteristics of both low and high impact styles are compared below. Only one of these two styles meets the needs of the business reader – High Impact. Which style do you prefer? vague muddy bureaucratic difficult concise to-the-point clear easy Low Impact High Impact After the Meeting

32 High Impact Sentence Techniques The first step to writing in a High Impact Style is to use High Impact Sentence Techniques. When you craft High Impact sentences, you write messages that are clear and easy to understand. Lets look at the two High Impact Sentence Techniques that will help you to write High Impact sentences. #1. Picture Nouns #2. Active/Linking Verbs After the Meeting

33 #1: Picture Nouns By using picture nouns in your writing, you will write sentences that are clear and easy for the reader to read. The next few slides will provide you with examples of helpful and less helpful nouns and pronouns. After the Meeting

34 Picture Nouns Helpful Nouns management department procedure I, we, you equipment policy money computer he, she, they software High Impact picture nouns and pronouns create pictures in the mind of your reader. After the Meeting

35 Vague Nouns Less Helpful Nouns involvement viability optimization development modification this, it aspect probability renewal illustration Low Impact nouns and pronouns force your reader to analyze an abstract concept or idea. After the Meeting

36 Vague Pronouns Rather than:It has been noted... Try:We have noticed… I have seen… We reported… Rather than: There is only one reason why the policy will not be accepted. Try: Management will not accept the policy because… Rather than: The side effects are minimal. This means patients will not suffer. Try: Patients will not suffer because the side effects are minimal. Or: The side effects are minimal; therefore patients will not suffer. When you use a vague pronoun as the subject of your sentence, you completely confuse your reader. As well, vague pronouns can make you sound old-fashioned or pompous. After the Meeting

37 Verb Nouns Rather than:The introduction of the speaker will be made by the Chairman. Try:The Chairman will introduce the speaker. Rather than: The utilization of the new financial reporting process is mandatory for everyone. Try: Everyone must use the new financial reporting process. Some nouns are really verbs masquerading as nouns. High Impact writers take care to replace the verb noun with a picture noun and use the verb noun as – guess what – a verb! The following examples show you how you can transform verb nouns back to the verbs they were derived from. After the Meeting

38 Describer Nouns Rather than:The effectiveness of the testing was an area of doubt for the manager. Try:The manager doubted that the testing was effective. Rather than: The viability of the procedures timely completion is questionable. Try: We are not sure if the procedures completion date is viable. Some nouns are really adjectives masquerading as nouns. High Impact writers take care to replace a describer noun with a picture noun and use the describer noun as an adjective. The following examples show you how you can transform describer nouns back to the adjectives they were derived from. After the Meeting

39 #2: Active/Linking Verbs Some verbs work harder than others; that is, they give the reader information in the natural order of: Actor » Action » Acted-Upon. By using active/linking verbs and the Actor » Action » Acted-Upon format in your writing, you will write sentences that will help your reader grasp the message easily and quickly. The next few slides provide you with examples of active/passive/linking verbs while introducing you to the Actor » Action » Acted-Upon format. After the Meeting

40 Active Verbs Use active verbs when the subject or actor in the sentence is taking/going to take/or took action. Sentences with active verbs have High Impact because the actor comes before the verb. Actor Action Acted-Upon (Subject) (Active Verb)(Object) The manager is writing the report. (present tense) The controller will prepare the statements. (future tense) The doctor prescribed the drug. (past tense) After the Meeting

41 Passive Verbs When you use passive verbs to show an action is being/will be/has been done to the subject of a sentence, you make the sentence more difficult to read. Sentences with passive verbs have less impact because they stray from the natural order of Actor » Action » Acted- Upon…and sometimes the Actor is completely absent. Acted-UponAction Actor (Subject)(Verb) The project is being carried out by the consultant. (present tense) The report will be completed by the manager. (future tense) The project has been approved. (past tense) (Studies show that people read sentences with passive verbs 14-17% more slowly than they read sentences with active verbs.) After the Meeting

42 Linking Verbs Use linking verbs in a sentence where no action is taking place. They are called linking verbs because they simply link the Actor (Subject) and the Acted-Upon (Completer). ActorAction Acted-Upon (Subject) (Linking Verb)(Completer) The reportis long. Management seems to be satisfied. After the Meeting

43 Summing up High Impact Sentences To write High Impact sentences that are clear and easy for your reader to understand: Use Actor, Action, Acted-Upon format. Use PICTURE nouns. Use ACTIVE/LINKING verbs. After the Meeting

44 Packaging & Labeling Techniques The second step to writing in a High Impact Style is to use the two Packaging & Labeling Techniques. When you apply these techniques, you present information in a way that helps the reader grasp the key points quickly and easily, and you lower the possibility of miscommunication. #1. Label sentences #2. Bullet points After the Meeting

45 #1. Label Sentences The human brain likes to receive information in chunks. By using Label Sentences, you will easily organize information into coherent paragraphs or packages of related information. Label sentences also help you guide a busy reader to key information as they skim through a long message or document. After the Meeting

46 Packaging Information Think of your document as a series of packages of information; for example, these moving boxes: Each package begins with a label that tells the reader what is inside the package. Then, when you look inside the package you find out more (ex. cutlery or platters; kitchen or bar glasses; blender or microwave oven). You will find an example on the next two slides showing how one writer planned then wrote a paragraph using this technique. After the Meeting

47 Example: The Plan for the Paragraph Readers Question: How will this type of system benefit my company? Label Sentence: By introducing one of these systems, you will see immediate benefits in three areas. Supporting Detail: improved employee morale lower wage costs less absenteeism After the Meeting

48 Example: The Finished Paragraph By introducing one of these systems, you will see immediate benefits in three areas. First, because the job will be easier, job stress will be reduced and employees will have improved morale. Second, your employees will be more productive and will take fewer sick days, so absenteeism will be reduced. Finally, with less absenteeism, you will see the cost of wages decrease as you will need fewer temporary employees. After the Meeting

49 Make Your Point, Then Support It Each time you start a new package (paragraph), you need to signal the reader by using a label sentence which states your main point. Then, you follow the label sentence with several sentences that provide the supporting details. Remember that you can help your readers read more quickly and find the information they need by: Chunking related information into paragraphs. Making your point in each paragraph with a label sentence. Providing the supporting details. After the Meeting

50 #2. Bullet Points You can help your readers by using bullet points to: List things. Describe a series of ideas. Write instructions. Highlight important points. Describe short sequences/processes. Create variety on a page. Keep in mind that bullet points are not helpful to your readers when you list more than seven items, or when you are trying to persuade or build an argument. After the Meeting

51 Tips for Effective Bullet Points When you decide to use bullet points, please use these simple guidelines: Begin each group of points with a descriptive label sentence or heading. Cluster points into groups of seven or fewer. Begin each point with the same kind of word (e.g. a verb or noun). Use a number (1, 2, 3) or letter (a, b, c) if you want to show sequence or refer to a specific point later. Use a symbol to differentiate each point in a list that does not have a specific sequence. After the Meeting

52 Summing up Packaging & Labeling Use these two packaging and labeling techniques to organize your information into clear and easy to follow packages for the reader: Make your point in each paragraph with a label sentence; then support it. Use bullet points sparingly and purposely. After the Meeting

53 Refine Your Minutes The final step is to ensure that your Minutes are complete, accurate and error free. To ensure that readers find your Minutes useful, professional and inviting, you need to complete three levels of review: Level 1:Edit your Minutes to ensure the content is accurate and you have answered all your readers questions in a High Impact writing style. Level 2:Proofread your Minutes: a) for errors and typos; and b) for consistency of text standards. Level 3:Obtain approval from the meeting leader. After the Meeting

54 Preparing for Success The following four steps will help you prepare for success after your next meeting: 1. Write the Minutes while the discussions are fresh in your mind. 2. Note key elements: type of meeting, name of the department/organization, date and time, location, name of the meeting leader, main topics and the start and finish times. 3. Write the Minutes in a clear, easy-to-read High Impact style – include decisions made, actions/responsibilities assigned, deadlines and key players. 4. Take the time to edit and proofread your Minutes. Have the meeting leader or chairperson approve the Minutes before distributing them. After the Meeting

55 By applying the tips and techniques you have learned in this slideshow, you will be well on your way to: Taking and writing Minutes confidently and effectively. Becoming the group memory. Demonstrating your communication ability. As a minute-taker, you fulfill a critically important role – you become the groups memory.

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