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Too Much or Too Little Detail

Taking minutes for a meeting is not something you ask of the first person you see. It requires knowledge and skill because minutes form an integral part of meetings.

Minutes should capture the purpose of the meeting and its agreed outcomes as a record that can be referred back to and that can be used for follow-up purposes. But, just how much detail should be included in a set of minutes?

Defining the purpose of the minutes
The manner in which minutes are taken and drawn up is defined not only by the purpose of the meeting but also the purpose the minutes.

The required format for the minutes should be clearly indicated to the minute-taker to avoid disappointment and wasting of valuable time by having to re-write half the record. It also helps the minute-taker not to miss important information during the meeting but to also not include unnecessary content.

A very useful tip to ensure constantly correct minutes reflecting the information you need is to establish a template indicative of the purpose. A previous example with which you are satisfied, could be distributed to your minute-taker to empower her/him in advance and assists in preparing for the meeting.

How much detail to include in Minutes
Effective meeting minutes are clear and to the point, but at the same time, they do not leave out important information. They are not meant to be transcriptions of meetings, where every word spoken is recorded, but their original purpose was also never to just create to do lists for all involved.
Keep the following two good practices in mind when deciding on how much information to include at each point on the agenda:

  • If there is extensive deliberation before passing a motion, summarize the major arguments from the different parties before noting the decision
  • Otherwise, at each point, just include a short description of each decision taken (10 – 12 words) followed by a brief explanation of the rationale for the decision

I.e. the objectives of the meeting and the decisions leading up to that should be clearly noted in the minutes and unnecessary content should be avoided, it is the duty of the chairman to clearly indicate if information is valuable or unnecessary.

In a nutshell
When it comes to an effective format for your minutes, the template is determined by the purpose and to save yourself a lot of trouble, this should be defined beforehand, not amended afterwards.

Call us as AdminAssist today for a professional assistant to take minutes at your next meeting, or learn how else you can take advantage of our knowledge and skills.