Taking minutes

Which protocol types are there and what must be considered?

Writing minutes

The minutes are a formal record of the proceedings of a meeting, negotiation, conference, or meeting.

The usefulness of the protocol can serve the following purposes:

A woman writes on a laptop

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Minutes: There is more than just one benefit!

  • General evidence
  • Control instrument
  • Basis for a discussion
  • Basis for a documentation
  • Basis for further action
  • Mnemonic aid

A protocol is written in the present tense. A third person who did not attend the meeting and is reading these minutes should be put in the position as if they were there. The presentation must be objective and neutral and is taken down during the event.

The different types of minutes

At negotiations, discussions, with politicians, scientific experiments, conferences (also video and telephone conferences), at court hearings, meetings and many other occasions – minutes are taken everywhere. Due to the flood of information that we are exposed to today through digital media, it is becoming increasingly important to record what has been said in writing. We can’t remember everything.

Since the information needs of a later reader about the course of a meeting can be different, this also results in different types of minutes.

In some companies it is determined which protocol should be written for which purpose – but mostly a mixed form results.

The word log

The word protocols are the most detailed and extensive protocols ever. In addition to the speakers’ remarks, all other events during the meeting are also recorded. This can be heckling, applause as well as every request to speak. Everything is reproduced verbatim.

What does it mean for the minute taker?

He must be extremely concentrated and must not overhear anything. Therefore a very high writing speed of the recorder is necessary. Shorthand skills are also helpful. You may feel more confident if you run a tape so that you can listen to key points again afterwards. This kind of protocol requires a very high workload.

When to use a word protocol?

Mainly when the content is later of interest to politicians, historians or lawyers down to the last word.

A verbatim protocol is the verbatim documentation of a meeting, a lecture, a discussion.

Nothing can be added, but also nothing can be left out. Your own interpretation or personal comment is not allowed. Only the style – for the sake of better comprehensibility – may be corrected. In parliamentary sessions, for example, verbatim records are created that can be obtained regularly by interested parties. Because a normal citizen very seldom participates directly in a meeting and even then cannot follow it over several hours.

The progress protocol (detailed protocol)

The most essential excerpts are reproduced, but not verbatim, but in spirit.

The course of the negotiation is as important as the arguments on which the decisions are based. This provides a structured overview of the course of the meeting. Trivialities are deliberately omitted.

In the minutes of proceedings, contributions are written with names (unless otherwise requested).

What does a minute of proceedings mean for the minute taker??

It must have the ability to filter out the essentials and maintain an overview at all times.

The reader of this protocol needs to be able to discern: What is in favor of this decision and why? What speaks against an argumentation and why? What was clarified? What is still open?

The minute taker should already pay attention when taking notes to the fact that the transcript is structured.

When to use a progress log?

Mainly when a word protocol would go beyond the scope and this would also be difficult to read. Therefore it is suitable everywhere, where a certain evidential value is required. Particularly popular for general meetings, work sessions and conferences.

Minutes of proceedings show which arguments played a role in the decision-making process or which arguments were used in the decision-making process. which points were disregarded. The "pros" and "cons" of the debate are made clear, and additional information is also recorded.

Expressions of opinion should be given by name.

The short protocol – result protocol (shortened form of the detailed result protocol)

A short protocol contains only short information about the content of the meeting and its results. Short minutes give the essential statements of the participants in key words and thus make clear the contexts that led to a particular decision.

The brevity of the record accommodates the usually limited time of the participants and yet captures everything essential. This protocol is short, concise and very structured and essentially contains the following four points:

  1. The current state of affairs
  2. The way forward
  3. The allocation of tasks
  4. The dates

What does this mean for the minute-taker?

He pays attention to the results and summarizes them briefly. It is very concentrated and filters the information.

When is a short protocol used?

In some cases short minutes are taken in addition to minutes of proceedings or verbatim minutes.

The memory protocol

A memorial protocol is often a stopgap solution. It is made afterwards "from memory" because z. B. no agreement has been reached on how the minutes are to be taken. Or because it only turns out later that perhaps minutes are needed after all, or because the meeting chairperson writes the minutes himself/herself.

Memory protocols are not infrequently incomplete and often have gaps in the reproduction of the agenda items and contexts discussed.

What this means for the minute taker?

He has to collect the most important points afterwards, so he has to have a very good memory. If the minute-taker is also the chair of the meeting, the minutes are most likely not written in a neutral way, but with the points that are important to the chair of the meeting. It is therefore not objective.

When is a memorial protocol used?

It is used when, for example, it was forgotten to name a minute taker or when it only becomes clear afterwards that the conversation needs to be recorded.

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