Writing minutes of conversations: Every employee in a company has experienced business meetings, works council meetings or conferences where people talk endlessly. By the end of the meeting, many participants have already forgotten what was discussed or suggested at the beginning, because such meetings become tedious. Nevertheless, everyone should know what was decided in the meeting. It should be able to understand for which reasons other things were rejected.
In order to record everything that is relevant, it is advisable to write a meeting protocol. If a permanent secretary has not been appointed, someone competent, such as the executive secretary should take such minutes at important meetings.
What is the purpose of minutes?
The most important function of a meeting protocol is to inform each participant – and possibly also those who are absent – about such important data as timing, duration, content, course and resolutions to keep you informed. The individual participants in a meeting can also be relevant. Meeting protocols therefore primarily serve the purpose of Capture information.
Experience shows that without a meeting protocol many things are forgotten. Other things are misinterpreted, only half implemented or completely lost in the flood of things discussed. As a result, things do not run smoothly in the company. Agreed deadlines are forgotten, delegated work is not started, misunderstandings about a decision or responsibilities for certain tasks cause unnecessary delays. The minutes provide security – or, in the case of comprehension problems, cause to ask questions. It clarifies responsibilities.
In addition, discussion protocols also have a control function. Supervisors can see if a meeting was actually productive or if it was just a lot of talking and endless discussions about trivialities. Works councils can see whether their initial objectives and plans have been implemented or not. The protocol provides brief information about the relevance of the topics discussed and the solutions developed from them.
It sets goals and responsibilities – and these can be reviewed afterwards. Therefore, the minutes of past meetings are also important for the future. They document dynamic processes and eventually gain historical value.
What forms of meeting minutes exist?
When two colleagues are delegated to write the minutes of a meeting, you may end up with two different sets of minutes. The reason for this may lie in the different protocol form. Protocols are basically divided into
- Test protocols
- Progress reports
- Full protocols
- Minutes of results
- Brief minutes
- Meeting minutes
- Court minutes
- Minutes of hours,
to name just a few forms.
Protocol forms in companies
Full minutes are verbatim minutes, in which all speeches are recorded in the wording. Those present are listed in full.
Negotiation or progress protocols on the other hand, should record the contents of the meeting in a concise and factual form and in indirect speech. They are nevertheless relatively detailed, because they are supposed to reflect the course of the discussion held. Here, too, the speakers and those present are named.
The short protocol summarize only the key points of a discussion. The participants are not mentioned by name, only their number may be relevant.
In Minutes of results or resolutions only the final results of a meeting are noted down. The participants are not mentioned by name. The turbulent or structured course of the discussion does not play a major role for the minutes. Contain the key points of the discussion, as well as all resolutions that were passed. In addition, the minutes of the results contain all responsibilities that have been delegated to someone.
In principle, the minutes of the last works council meeting should be available by the next meeting at the latest. However, it is often useful to take the minutes of a company meeting immediately after the meeting and distribute them as a memo.
Minutes of meetings document debates, for example. They contain the place, time and subject of discussion, as well as references to distributed working papers and the attendance list. The meeting minutes are taken down verbatim, including all interjections.
When is a meeting protocol worthwhile?
Minutes of discussions are only useful if they actually serve as a basis for action and for controlling it. Photo: contrastwerkstatt | fotolia.com
It is worth taking minutes of all works council meetings, meetings in small groups and all internal company meetings in which important topics are discussed. They are particularly important for all negotiations from which legal consequences and contract conclusions arise. Minutes are also taken at all general meetings, membership meetings or advisory board meetings, project meetings or vote counts after elections.
Depending on the occasion, certain forms of meeting minutes may be desired. For this reason, the minute-taker should ensure in advance that he or she selects the appropriate form of minutes. Irrespective of the form chosen, however, minutes of meetings are only useful if they actually serve as a basis for action and for controlling the same. Simply writing them down and filing them away does not get anyone anywhere.
Who should draw up the minutes of the meeting?
As a rule, a secretary is appointed who writes all the minutes. This offers the advantage that the style of all minutes remains the same and the minute-taker is practiced. It is advantageous for the longer forms of minutes if the minute-taker is skilled in shorthand or records the meeting on tape and then transcribes the speeches into written form. The key point about meeting minutes is that they must record all important data for reference and leave out nothing relevant.
It is therefore important that the minute-taker has a good knowledge of German and is able to write factually, legibly and precisely. He or she should be familiar with the company structures and know which topics are to be dealt with in the meeting. Knowledge of the majority of the participants is also an advantage, because the secretary can then better evaluate their contributions in terms of their relevance or clarity. The minute taker must be able to separate the essential from the unessential.
A secretary should be appointed to write all minutes / Photo: yellowj / fotolia.com
As a rule, minute-takers are not only responsible for noting down and reproducing the content of a meeting. They often also take on leadership roles in the content of the discussion. During the meeting, for example, they summarize the key points of a discussion again for all to see. You’ll lead a sprawling debate back to the point of the meeting, if necessary, and be responsible for making the minutes themselves relevant to those who read them.
Knowing the minutes of previous debates is useful. In many a discussion. If the minute-taker knows the wording of past minutes written by him, or can determine it in a flash from a folder he brought along, this is often helpful for the upcoming debate on a topic.
The minute-taker has the agenda in front of him. He participates in discussions, takes notes or records everything. He knows the rules of procedure and the formalities that are important for a secretary.
Write minutes of the meeting: Attention should be paid to
The minute-taker ideally writes the minutes immediately after each meeting.
Important fixed points that every meeting protocol should contain are
- information about the place and purpose of the meeting
- If necessary, information about the participants with contact details
- the outline of the agenda items
- the course of discussion for each topic on the agenda
- Statistics or diagrams, if applicable
- the resolutions and decisions made
- the set targets, deadlines and dates.
In order for the minute-taker to record all relevant information in the minutes of the meeting, good preparation is advisable. All required materials should be ready. The notepad or a dictaphone are part of it. In the case of important meetings, a thematically arranged form could be prepared in advance, in which the individual meeting items are entered with enough space for entries about them.