Does anyone still take minutes in 2017? When there is so much talk of artificial intelligence, robotics and other labour-saving technologies to support or replace repetitive work, surely someone, somewhere has come up with a technologically sophisticated way of taking minutes that doesn’t involve trying to keep up with impassioned discussions, streams of consciousness and tangents to make any maths teacher proud.
The answer is yes, plenty of people are still being asked to take minutes in meetings ranging from impromptu team meetings to multi-site, multi-national, multi-company project meetings which must be documented for contractual or compliance purposes. Our Minute Taking workshop is as popular as ever, with delegates from all parts of the organisation keen to know how they can do a better job of taking minutes without it having to take over their lives.
There are three main ‘problems’ our delegates seem to have:
How can I save time? Minutes seem to turn into a full-time job alongside my actual job.
How do I get the level of detail right? I never know how much of a ‘tangent’ discussion actually needs minuting.
How can I keep up if I don’t understand what people are saying? Jargon, technical detail, non-native speakers, poor quality telecon lines.
These are very real issues, which can make the job of the minute-taker onerous, time-consuming and ultimately very stressful. Often we meet people who seem to feel the weight of the world on their shoulders when it comes to meetings; they feel completely responsible for the quality of the minutes, without actually feeling they have any control.
In our workshops we discuss what we term ‘the politics of minutes’. Where there are minutes, there are always politics involved! We work through a simple but profound, and I might even venture so far as to say ‘life-changing’ exercise around the purpose of the minutes the delegates are writing. The outcomes of this simple exercise almost always change the way they approach not only the minutes, but the quality of the agenda, chairmanship of the meeting, as well as each attendee’s responsibility within the meeting.
One of the greatest joys in my working life is watching a ‘minutes victim’ enter the workshop in the morning and seeing a ‘manager of agendas, chairpeople and meetings etiquette’ leave at the end, his/her head held high, SMART action plan in hand.