Minutes template : how to structure minutes in a reader-friendly way

In many organizations, protocols are treated in a step-motherly manner – and it often shows. As we all know, first impressions count. And the first thing readers notice – before they’ve even read a single word – is the presentation, the layout. And they decide in a flash whether they like the minutes, find them readable, difficult or easy to understand. If you want to appear organized, professional and knowledgeable, a well-structured protocol template will ensure that you make an extremely positive impression in the first three seconds.

Minutes template : how to structure minutes in a reader-friendly way

Heath R. Koppenhofer

Heath R. Koppenhofer has been a self-employed trainer for specialists and executives in the fields of: Office Management, Customer Orientation, Work Organization and Communication as well as a technical author. She is involved on a voluntary basis in clubs and associations and works on the German national committee "Geprufte/r Fachkauffrau/-mann fur Buro- und Projektorganisation". She leads the WEKA seminar "Effective minute taking".

Log template

From a must to a pleasure: minutes are important evidence and working documents

Logs are essential. In the case of meetings of supervisory bodies, general meetings or general assemblies, minutes are part of the "required books" in the sense of the law. They are often the basis for official action. Sometimes there is a reference in organizational or business regulations to the desired type and form of minutes. Otherwise a protocolist informs himself about this before an event. Because already when taking notes during a meeting, a session, a conference, the later evaluation of minutes and the follow-up of measures are important preparation criteria.

There are almost no rules about how to write minutes or what content is mandatory. For board meetings, read that proceedings and resolutions must be minuted and the minutes must be signed by the chairman and the secretary. Here we speak of a progress protocol or detailed result protocol. Internally, mostly effective resolution or result or short minutes are written. Decisions are documented here, rather than the discussions that led to them.

Protocol template

Minutes – regardless of whether they are minutes of proceedings or minutes of resolutions – must contain this information:

  • the word "protocol
  • Designation of the subject of negotiation z. B. General Meeting 2015 of the Golf Club Grun-Weiss Zurich
  • Date, place and time (start and end)
  • Names and functions of the participants (also attach as a list, but then note "see attachment no."). 2)
  • Indication of excused/unexcused absent participants
  • Note of a time-limited presence of individual participants
  • Distribution of the minutes to people who are not present (e.g. B. lawyer, tax consultant)
  • number of the protocol (recommended for frequent project meetings)
  • Designation of the chairman and the keeper of the minutes
  • Listing of negotiation items/agenda/agendas
  • Possibly the approval of this agenda
  • Possibly mention how to meet deadlines and formal requirements
  • Possibly approval of the minutes of the last meeting resp. Change requests for the last protocol

What does the participant of a meeting care about after the meeting?

Once of course the correctness of the representation. If minute-takers are new in their office, it is recommended to discuss exactly with the meeting leader about the general and its specific objectives. Then it is important to be able to quickly find your own tasks or those to be checked. For this purpose, a simple structure has proved to be very useful, namely a table consisting of the columns

No. |Topic/Action | Deadline | Responsible | Completed

Minutes must be true, concise and objective, should contain only facts, no assumptions or feelings, and really only the essentials.

All measures are to be formulated as clearly and concretely as possible and deadlines are to be verifiable as dates. Formulations like "immediately", "as soon as possible", "promptly" always bring misunderstandings. If necessary, the minutes can also be checked after an event for the exact date. With it they steer affairs of the completion, otherwise often threatens procrastination.

Valuable tips for reader-friendly protocols

A standard protocol template, z. B. in tabular form, makes it easier for all participants to find tasks, dates/deadlines and responsibilities. It is to be considered whether a DIN A 4 landscape format is more practical than DIN A 4 portrait format.

Protocols with single line spacing The formulae are written with a wide margin and in a flat typeface (appears more friendly and less formal), and are easier to read. It should be the block record? Then only choose a proportional font (Times), which inserts the spaces between the letters and not the words. The font size Arial 11 is easy to read and keeps the size of the overall protocol within limits. People do not like to read documents with more than five pages.

Headings and Subheadings bold and clearly formulated are like signposts in the text. They loosen up long texts. In this way, all readers can later easily find what they are looking for.

Numbered paragraphs are extremely helpful for the later follow-up of decisions and tasks.

Detailed information, e.g. B. Statistics, tables, diagrams, illustrations, presentations, numerical series, are more skillfully than Attachments attached. They are then better recorded than if they have to be taken from a text. Readers are grateful for short protocols. No one will believe that the person taking the minutes was lazy or missed important information. A reference to the attachment in the text is perfect. If there is more than one attachment, they are numbered consecutively.

Enumerations catch the eye and provide structure. If they are then still correctly weighted: So first things first, even if there was more of a mess in the meeting.

And now the minutes are 30 pages long? With a Table of contents every minute taker collects plus points. Likewise, a glossary with explanations of technical terms and abbreviations is very helpful for new participants in a round or laypersons in the subject area.

And at the end comes the creation date. It goes without saying that protocols are completed after two days, or a week at the most. To do this, minute-takers need an undisturbed workplace. Postponing never gets you anywhere. The time window for the transmission of the minutes is reserved in the calendar already before the meeting.

And now the Signatures by the leader of the event and the keeper of the minutes. The names are typed with the respective function.

As with a letter, the appendices are listed at the end with their exact title.

If minute-takers then develop a first draft for the next agenda/agenda list from the open agenda items, they have done a perfect job.

If a company is certified, a protocol template coordinated with all areas can be included in the document set of the quality management manual.

Many colleagues and supervisors don’t even know that taking minutes is one of the highest concentration tasks. Minute-takers can inform you about this. You don’t have to practice fishing for compliments; Goethe was already of the opinion that careers are written and talked about. Excellent protocols have already started some great careers.

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