Effective meeting planning and minute taking
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Do you worry about meeting planning? Believe it or not with a creative approach, proper planning, and expert execution, you can arrange meetings that leave attendees excited, energized and feeling that the meeting accomplished what it set out to achieve. Minute taking essentially boils down to what was decided, what was accomplished, what was agreed and actions for the attendees. Fully understanding the purpose of the meeting will go a long way to making this task less onerous.
There are three stages around meetings: preparation, the actual meeting and follow-up.
- Determine the ‘who, what and why’ of the meeting to enable you to you make an informed decision as to the purpose and desired outcome
- Identify Participants needed to attend
- Offer a choice of 3 Dates and Times
- Create an Agenda
It is essential to have a schedule of the topics that will be discussed as well as who will lead each section of the meeting.
- Ensure a good meeting result by distributing and providing necessary pre-work in advance of the actual meeting
- Determine Presentation Needs and plan accordingly
- PowerPoint functionality, internet access, and white boards are just some of the workings you might need to make arrangements for.
- Create an Agenda – It is essential to have a schedule of the topics that will be discussed as well as who will lead each section of the meeting. You can find templates on line to help you to organise your minutes if needed.
- Find a venue
When choosing a venue consider the purpose of the meeting, the number of attendees and the ease of access. Check with the venue to see if they have all the facilities needed. Keep the menu functional with as little interruptions as possible. Select a light, healthy menu and ensure there are also healthy snacks, fresh juice and plenty of water. If a sit-down lunch or dinner is requested then try to book an adjacent room for the meal so that attendees can get back to the meeting as soon as possible. Request a break out area for refreshments and chit chat to revitalise attendees at an all-day meeting. Request signage. Arrange A/V requirements. Alternatively you could use a venue finding service to take the stress and strain out of finding a venue and save you time.
- Send Final Details
- Several days before the event send out the final agenda together with all the information relating to the meeting. This should include directions, parking information, room numbers and emergency contacts. Copy in administrative assistants on the email as well.
The Actual Meeting Day
- DO arrive on-site early. Inspect the room; meet with the food & beverage and A/V coordinators and check timings for any breaks scheduled. Check signage if requested.
- Minute Taking DO’s and DON’Ts
- DO use the agenda to guide your note-taking, ideally on a logoed template which should at the very least capture:
- The name of the meeting
- The date, time and location of the meeting
- The attendees
- The apologies
- The name of the minute taker
- The agenda items listed and details on what was decided and the action points to take forward (with the initials of the person responsible for the action).
- Any other business
- The date of the next meeting
- DO use shorthand or self-made shorthand symbols and/or a recorder. Note take directly to your computer. This will enable you to go back and fill in while you’re taking notes.
- DON’T include dialogue. Typical workplace meetings do not require this, only those of a legal or medical nature.
- DO remain neutral in tone and use of vocabulary. If an argument took place during the meeting or someone stormed out of the room do not put this detail in the minutes unless this level of detail is asked to be recorded.
- DO write in the same tense throughout (use past tense in the 3rd person) and avoid using people’s names except for motions or seconds.
- DO recognise when to make the intelligent decision and recommend a professional minute taker if there is a need for additional capacity, a specific speciality is required, an additional level of skill is called for or fast delivery is vital.
- DO discipline yourself to type up the minutes as soon as possible after the meeting. If you leave this it is very likely that you may forget some salient points that needed to be added in
- DO distribute the minutes within 24 hours. That way, those who attended can be reminded of action items, and those who did not attend will promptly know what happened
- DO proofread before circulating
- DO file minutes in a place where you can easily find them for reference and for chasing actions before the next meeting.
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