Error-Free Meeting Transcription Tips and Tricks

Administrative Assistant Resource
October 14, 2013 — 2,211 views  
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One of your tasks as a secretary could most likely be to attend meetings and take down the minutes. The essence of the meeting is captured in the minutes and it includes details like decisions made, steps planned and tracking of the action.

The minutes are a tangible record of the meeting having taken place and it provides information to those who were not able to attend. In some cases, they are also a reference point. All this may sound like arduous work, but it does not have to be if you follow a few simple rules. Here are some of them.

Transcribe Immediately Following the Meeting

Consider that you have just attended a meeting. After you have taken down all the details comes the onerous task of segregating the information and transcribing the notes into effective minutes. As soon as the meeting is over, pull your notes together and start writing down the minutes, when things are still fresh in your mind.

Review the outline and if needed, add more notes or clarify the points raised. All decisions, motions and actions should be clearly noted.

Clarify in Advance the Format of the Minutes

Before you take any kind of notes, you should know what information you need to record. Some organizations have a specific format, but generally, the minutes will include:

  • Time and date of the meeting
  • The names of those who are taking part in the meeting
  • Corrections/amendments and acceptance of the minutes of previous meetings
  • Decisions on actions, next steps, voting, motions, new business and the date of the next meeting

Condensing Lengthy Discussions into Main Points

You may have written down lengthy notes during the meeting, but when you write the minutes, shorten them into small concise points. Here is what you should do when you write the minutes:

  • Write clear headings
  • Summarize the points discussed
  • List key decisions and agreements
  • Write the action items
  • Identify the date of the next meeting

After you have written the minutes, edit them to ensure clarity and brevity. This will make them much easier to read. Whenever you are writing minutes, always be objective and use the same tense in the entire document.

Confidentiality Considerations

Do not mention names unless someone has put a motion forward or seconded someone. Neither should personal or inflammatory observations made by the members be included in the minutes. After all, it is a professional document.

Some board meetings are confidential and they are only taken down to keep a record, or for the benefit of the members who could not make it to the meeting. In this case, you have to ensure that the minutes do not fall into the hands of anyone who is not authorized to see them.

Approval before Distribution of the Minutes

After you have written the minutes, you may have to distribute the minutes to others. But before you do it, ensure that you get it reviewed by the chair, who will either approve it or revise it, prior to circulation.

Filing and Storing for Future Reference

Most boards and committees will review, approve or amend the minutes of the last meeting in their next meeting. Once the required revisions have been made, you will have to store the minutes for reference. Some companies and organizations upload these minutes online (Skydrive, Dropbox). You may store them in an external hard drive also. You can also print and store them or give them to a member for filing.

Administrative Assistant Resource