No need. Its not really a legal requirement to note when the treasurer got up to make a cup of tea! There will always be a draft agenda, so you know what the major issues are going to be, and what to expect during the meeting. Its also a huge help to read the previous minutes of a past meeting - how are they recorded? How much detail did they go into? You can use this as guidance on how youre going to record the minutes this time around.
Its always a good idea to sit near the person whos going to be chairing the meeting. You need to hear what is being said, and you wont have to interrupt the proceedings to ask for clarification (but dont ever be afraid to do this, if you miss something).
The meeting starts - what do you do?
When the meeting begins, you need to make a note of the start time (sometimes fancily titled "a call to order"), location, and who is in attendance or absent. Its easier to mark these down in the minutes as initials - for example, Joe Bloggs would be "JB", so if he proposes or comments on anything, it saves you precious writing time.
A meeting will often consist of motions, seconded motions and whether they passed or failed. A motion is an issue that someone would like addressing. For example, if a person was to stand up and say "I move to give the company ten new copies of Microsoft Office", then thats a motion. You have to write down the exact words of motions, so then theres no room for error in determining what was being asked for.
Youll also need to record the old business. What needed to be done at the last meeting? Who did it? Whats left to be done? This isnt as daunting as it may seem, because the chair of the meeting will guide this conversation - you simply have to record it. For many organisations, outsourced, professional minute taking is just an extension of the in-house minute takers work. An additional resource. An extra arrow in your quiver, as it were.
The bottom line is that minute taking professionals, like professionals in any discipline, bring additional skills, training and capacity to your organisation. You probably wont need professional meeting minutes for every meeting - although some organisations do choose this route. The key for you, as someone responsible for your organisations meeting minutes, is to know when to choose professional minute taking services. You might choose professionals when a meeting is particularly complex or sensitive; when there are extra meetings and the workload is heavy; when you need a very fast turnaround.
Professional minute takers develop a particular set of skills and spend a lot of time training. They spend every day on the job practicing their minute taking skills. Competition to be hired as a professional minute taker is intense. Although there is no one route to becoming a professional minute taker, most new minute takers have a background in high academic achievement and professional writing. Although minute taking is definitely not journalism, the skill of paring down and summarising complex information that journalists develop is also relevant to minute taking.
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