Business meetings take many forms, from a quick, casual meeting of a few team members that lasts 10 minutes to a longer, all-team meeting telephone conference that may include 200 people and take four hours. The size of the group and the length of time isn’t the most important factor when deciding how to take minutes at a business meeting. Understanding the corporate document purpose takes priority.
How to Take Minutes at a Business Meeting
Most business meetings are less formal than board meetings, or voting membership meetings, but it is important to note that some companies do require that Robert’s Rules of Order be followed for certain types of business meetings. This article does not address such formal techniques, but rather aims to provide guidelines for business meeting structures most common to product development, customer development and sales, academic administration meetings, and other such groups.
Most non-Roberts Rules of Order business meetings require a note taker to follow a basic structure, and knowing how to take minutes at a business meeting helps employees to maintain proper corporate documents.
Format for Meeting Minutes
- Before taking minutes for a meeting, ask your supervisor the following questions:
- Should the meeting be audio recorded for documentation to back up the notes?
- Will the meeting leader provide an agenda in advance to the note taker?
- Is the meeting in person, via teleconference, or a hybrid, with some members in office and others dialing in?
- Once you know the answers to these questions, you can take the minutes at the business meeting and know better how to document.
The basic format for meeting minutes, though, is fairly similar:
- Names of persons attending
- Name of person leading
- Time the meeting began
- Agenda items – go through the agenda and note the major arguments, concerns, and statements. Attribute statements made to the person who made them, using their full name.
- Action items – note actions decided during the meeting and note which person is assigned to which action.
- Time the meeting ended
Every manager will have a different style. Some will want the prior meeting’s notes read and briefly discussed, while others may not. Some will want the note taker to email the draft to each attendee and ask for editing, while others will want the note taker to complete the final draft.
Minutes for a Meeting
If you’re not a member of the team that is meeting, taking minutes for a business meeting is easy. Document what you hear, following the structure described above. It’s fine to politely interrupt and ask for clarification of points during the meeting. Ask people before the meeting begins to avoid “crosstalk” (talking over one another), as it makes it hard to take minutes for a meeting.
If you’re a team member who needs to report information, then your task is a bit more difficult. Ask the meeting leader in advance if you can go first, to get your presentation out of the way and to focus on taking minutes for the meeting. Then, do as any other minute taker would do – document the meeting.
Taking Minutes at a Business Meeting – Teleconferences
If the meeting is via conference call, ask all participants to state their name whenever speaking.
“Greg here – I think that…” or “Marcia speaking – so the 20 percent increase in…” can make a huge difference in identifying who says what, and helps to keep the meeting flowing.
For teleconferences, also consider using the Instant Message feature (if your company has this) to clarify points. IMing someone and asking “Did you say…” can give you a clear answer – and in
some cases, you can simply copy and paste your coworker’s IM into the meeting minutes.
Never multitask during a business meeting – it can come back and bite you, especially if you’re recording the meeting.
When the meeting is done, compile the notes into a final set. If any statements or attributions are
unclear, send an email to the team and ask for clarification. Take all the answers, complete the final revision, and then send out the minutes as an official corporate record.