“Who’s keeping the minutes today?” It’s not exactly a question that makes you popular. As soon as the chairperson asks this question, his or her colleagues quickly hide behind their laptops or suddenly have to check something important on their smartphone. Rarely if ever does anyone volunteer. Which is hardly surprising as transcribing minutes takes time. And as you’re busy enough as it is, you’d prefer to spend that time on other things. Yet it can all be done smarter and faster. Surely you’d prefer your colleagues not to stick their heads in the sand when you ask for someone to keep the minutes? Or take down the minutes faster if you’re often called on to be the secretary? The following tips will help.
Tip 1: a tight agenda and a good chairperson
A meeting in which the chairperson does not keep strictly to the agenda is a drama for every secretary. You quickly end up in a meeting in which items are discussed willy-nilly and verbose colleagues talk on and on. Not even the most talented secretary is up to coping with a chaotic meeting like that. So make sure there’s a clear agenda with timing per item and an authoritative chairperson who really keeps to the agenda!
Tip 2: a clear deadline
If you’re not the secretary yourself but are still responsible for disseminating the minutes, ask the chairperson for a clear deadline for delivering them. If a secretary waits too long with transcribing the minutes, the most important details may well be forgotten. 24 hours after a meeting, you can remember approximately 90 per cent of what has been discussed. After three days, that goes down to around 40 per cent!
Tip 3: take breaks when needed
If your colleagues are going too fast, or making decisions that are clear to the participants but not clear to you, just say so! They are focusing all of their attention on the discussion but you are multi-tasking. As the secretary, you have to listen, summarise and note everything down. So it’s no more than normal to ask for explanations once in a while.
Tip 4: meet digitally
Like many other secretaries, you probably note down the minutes on your laptop. Ever thought of taking the next step and meeting digitally? Organisations that already do that no longer use paper in their meetings – not during preparation, not during the meeting itself, and not even after it. All the documents are digital and are shared through a meeting tool. This saves a lot of work and time, not least because you assign actions and decisions to participants automatically during the meeting. If you need an overview of all the action points immediately after the meeting - according to subject, dossier, meeting or person responsible – you can easily get it by simply clicking a button.
Save time keeping minutes, and a lot more
With these four tips, your organisation can save a lot of time in minute-keeping. And hopefully the question “Who’s keeping the minutes today?” will be less of an annoyance. If you would like to read more about the benefits of digital meetings, download our book ‘The 7 benefits of paperless meetings’. You’ll find it useful yourself, but so too will your manager and colleagues. They’ll certainly be pleased with the time-saving changes in the meeting room.