1 Understand the task of taking minutes at meetings
1.1 Describe the purpose of meetings
1.2 Describe legal and organisational requirements that may apply to minute taking 1.3 Explain the purpose of minutes as an accurate record of discussions and decisions The purpose of holding a meeting is to discuss topics that are relevant to the running of the business and to keep all working together towards the same goals. During the meeting it is important to record what actions have been decided upon, who is responsible and what the milestones and deadlines are. The minutes accurately record summaries of the discussions held and decisions made at the meeting. This is particularly important for those who were unable to attend.
Minutes also protect the organisation by providing a paper-trail showing proper authority was exercised and protocols followed. They can also be used as a legally binding agreement, however they are only officially signed off as an accurate record of the meeting once they have been reviewed and agreed as accurate. Drafts of minutes, notes and audio or video recordings should not be retained once the minutes are approved.
1.4 Describe the purpose of documents and terms that are commonly used in meetings
Some common meeting documents and their purpose:
Notice of meeting: detailing date, time, type of meeting, location and the purpose of the meeting Agenda: detailed listing of the order of events for the meeting. The agenda keeps the meeting focused and helps in time allocation for the topics to be discussed. Minutes: the official record of meeting outlining details like place and time of meeting, purpose, attendees, the leader of the meeting, apologies, agenda, review of previous meeting minutes, date, time and place of next meeting and time of meeting closure. Resolution minutes record only decision reached, while narrative minutes provide a record of the decision-making process. Attendance Register: a document circulated for attendees to put their name on to show their attendance.
A list of terms commonly used in meetings:
Ad hoc: from Latin, meaning ‘for the purpose of’, as for example, when a sub-committee is set up specially to organise a works outing. Adjourn: to hold a meeting over until a later date.
Adopt minutes: minutes are ‘adopted’ when accepted by members and signed up by the chairman. Advisory: providing advice or suggestion, not taking action
Agenda: a schedule of items drawn up for discussion at a meeting AGM: Annual General Meeting: all members are usually eligible to attend Apologies: excuses given in advance for inability to attend a meeting Articles of Association: rules required by Company law which govern a company’s activities Attendance list: in some committees a list is passed round to be signed as a record of attendance Bye-laws: rules regulating an organisation’s activities
Casting vote: by convention, some committee chairmen may use a ‘casting vote’ to reach a decision, if votes are equally divided Chairman: leader or person given authority to conduct a meeting Chairman’s Agenda: based upon the committee agenda, but containing explanatory notes Collective Responsibility: a convention by which all committee members agree to abide by a majority decision Committee: a group of people usually elected or appointed who meet to conduct agreed business and report to a senior body Consensus: agreement by general consent, no formal vote being taken Constitution: set of rules governing activities of voluntary bodies Convene: to call a meeting
Decision: resolution minutes are sometimes called ‘decision minutes’ Eject: remove someone (by force if necessary) from a meeting Executive: having the power to act upon taken decisions
Extraordinary Meeting: a meeting called for all members to discuss a serious issue affecting all is called an Extraordinary General Meeting; otherwise a
non-routine meeting called for a specific purpose Ex officio: given powers or rights by reason of office
Guillotine: cut short a debate – usually in Parliament
Honorary post: a duty performed without payment, e.g. Honorary Secretary Information, Point of: the drawing of attention in a meeting to a relevant item of fact Intra vires: within the power of the committee or meeting to discuss, carry out Lie on the table: leave item to be considered instead at the next meeting (see table) Lobbying: a practice of seeking members’ support before a meeting Motion: the name given to a ‘proposal’ when it is being discussed at a meeting Mover: one who speaks on behalf of a motion
Nem con: from Latin, literally, ‘no one speaking against’
Opposer: one who speaks against a motion
Order, point of: the drawing of attention to a breach of rules or procedures Other business: either items left over from a previous meeting, or items discussed after the main business of a meeting Point of order: proceedings may be interrupted on a ‘point of order’ if procedures or rules are not being kept to in a meeting Proposal: the name given to a submitted item for discussion (usually written) before a meeting takes place Proxy: literally ‘on behalf of another person’ – proxy vote
Quorum: the number of people needed to be in attendance for a meeting to be legitimate and so commence Refer back: to pass an item back for further consideration
Resolution: the name given to a ‘motion’ which has been passed or carried; used after the decision has been reached Seconder: one who supports the ‘proposer’ of a motion or proposal by ‘seconding’ it Secretary: committee official responsible for the internal and external administration of a committee Secret ballot: a system of voting in secret
Shelve: to drop a motion which has no support
Sine die: from Latin, literally, ‘without a day’, that is to say indefinitely, e.g. ‘adjourned sine die’. Standing Committee: a committee which has an indefinite term of office Standing Orders: rules of procedure
governing public sector meetings Table: to introduce a paper or schedule for noting
Taken as read: to save time, it is assumed the members have already read the minutes Treasurer: committee official responsible for its financial records and transactions Ultra vires: beyond the authority of the meeting to consider Unanimous: all being in favour
2 Understand the role of the chair and other formal responsibilities in meetings
2.1 Explain the role of the chair and other formal responsibilities within meetings The chair is the person given authority to lead or to conduct the meeting. It is their role to plan and organise the meeting.
Other formal responsibilities are:
Deputy-Chair: this person stands in for the chairperson should they be unable to attend. Secretary: the person responsible for taking the minutes during the meeting, providing support to the chair and ensuring the attendance is recorded. The secretary also may be expected to supervise the provision of refreshments, stationeries etc. during the meeting. Treasurer: The person responsible for the finances, overseeing how money is spent. Often appointed in the running of charity organisations.
2.2 Describe how to work in partnership with the chair when taking minutes The Chair is your main ally, as they control the way discussions flow. A good Chair will always be conscious of the minute taker, and he or she will intervene if more than one person is speaking at the same time. I take time to discuss the agenda with the Chair before the meeting wherever possible, as close liaison with the Chair is another important factor that will help make the meeting run smoothly. It can be helpful to have a little signal to let the chair know to return to a topic if it has not been sufficiently closed. If the chair is aware of my capabilities then they can ensure the meeting flows at a suitable speed for accurate minutes.
3 Know how to take minutes at meetings
3.1 Explain the purpose of listening actively when taking minutes 3.2 Explain how to listen actively when minute taking
3.3 Describe how to take notes during discussions held at meetings The purpose of listening actively when taking minutes is to ensure all points are noted accurately without giving a word for word record of the discussion. Active listening involves following the conversation while simultaneously maintaining a mental summary of what has already been said. I find keeping the agenda in mind helps, keeping the topic of discussion in the forefront of my mind.
At the start of the meeting I always ensure I have a spare working pen, just to be safe. If I don’t recognise or know the names of any of the people present, I ask everyone to write their name down. I hand a sheet of paper to the person to my left and ask them to pass it along. It is useful to have this list in visual range then I can be sure I am attributing statements to the correct person. I keep the agenda to hand and give each topic a reference number for speedy note-taking; I keep the action points and related discussion under the numbered section. I am actively listening for the conclusions and any decisions reached and ensure I write these clearly. I abbreviate where I can, writing initials rather than names, using phrases instead of sentences and keeping the writing as easy to read as possible by using a list form and bullet points. I try to separate fact from fiction, being selective in my note-taking to keep my minutes objective and unbiased. If someone refers to a document I write the page number down.
3.4 Explain the purpose of getting clarification
3.5 Describe how to get clarification
If, during the meeting, I find myself unclear on what an outcome was or some other point of discussion I usually request of the chair that he/she clarify the item. If the moment is unsuitable then I will make a note of it and approach the chair at the end of the meeting for clarification. This helps to keep the minutes accurate.
3.6 Describe different types of minutes and their purpose
3.7 Describe the different styles of writing that may be used in minute taking Minutes can be informal or formal depending on their purpose and audience. Resolution minutes record only the decision reached, while narrative minutes provide a record of the decision-making process.
Small internal groups, such as teams or project groups, which meet on a regular basis, are likely to produce minutes that emphasise action points without worrying about keeping a detailed account of how or why decisions were made. The purpose of these minutes is to provide a record of decisions that require action. In this instance, brief notes with lists of action points might be all that is required. As the audience is internal, the style might be informal with action points listed in a table, and discussion and decisions noted as bullet points. Often the minute-taker will be a member of the group, and is free to participate in the discussion.
Formal committee and board meetings that may have an external audience, and that are used to provide an historical record and to disseminate information, are likely to be drafted in a more formal way. Discussions and decisions are recorded in paragraphs of full text with full sentences. Usually, decisions are recorded as having been taken by the committee, or by the members. It is rare to name individuals in formal minutes. Formal minutes are often accompanied by papers which inform the discussion by the board/ committee. The minute-taker in this scenario is usually a formally appointed secretary. The secretary is not expected to contribute to the discussions, leaving him/ her free to accurately and faithfully describe what passed at the meeting without bias or distraction.
Occasionally, it may be appropriate to produce verbatim minutes. These offer a word-for-word account and are used where there is a dispute of some nature. The minute-taker is expected to record what was said by all parties. All statements are directly attributed to a named individual.
Verbatim minutes are used to capture what passed at disciplinary panels or panels which consider student complaints and appeals. As with discursive minutes, the minute-taker is not expected to contribute as this may compromise their role as an independent and objective observer of all that passed.
3.8 Explain how to sort, select and structure information to produce minutes Our Organisation has a template which I follow when writing up minutes. It always has the Organisations name at the top, the place, date and time the meeting was held, the title of the meeting, a list of all the attendees and any apologies. I then create a heading and a number for each agenda item and put the relevant minute below. I record the main points raised, the decisions, and any major disagreements. I put the resulting action points in a column to the right, along with the initials of the person whose responsibility it is to follow the item up. When producing my minutes I try to keep in mind that they should be able to be read by someone who wasn’t in attendance at the meeting. I make sure I write my minutes up as soon as possible, so that the meeting is still fresh in my mind. Before circulating the minutes I hand them to the chair, who will suggest any changes necessary.
3.9 Explain what is meant by using the correct tone and professional language in minutes It is important to use the correct tone and professional language when writing minutes. They should always be written in an objective and neutral tone, and in the past tense. Minutes should record all discussions, placing emphasis on no particular discussion and be written in a professional manner. I aim to capture the meaning in as few words as possible without sacrificing accuracy. Writing in an engaging way helps the reader to take in the information. It helps to use language that is clear, keeping sentences short and easy to follow. I try to write my sentences in the active voice, e.g. Staff suggested we should have longer breaks, and use passive voice more occasionally, e.g. It was suggested by the staff that we should have longer breaks as passive writing can be monotonous to the reader. I write in the third person to keep a consistent point of view, noting the owner of statements for a more objective and neutral tone.
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