When teaching the Writing Skills for Trainers workshop someone asked, “How do the rules of writing apply to taking minutes for a meeting?” The answer is that meeting minutes still need to follow the 4 Cs of writing. They need to be clear, concise, complete, and compliant. Let’s talk about what this means.Clear
Minutes need to address the 5 Ws: who, what, when, where, and why. To cover these you would want to include: who attended and who was absent, when the meeting occurred (date, time, and place), what was discussed, what action needs to be taken, who should take the action, when the action should be completed, to whom should they report the completion of the action, and why the meeting was scheduled (annual directors meeting, bi-weekly sales meeting, etc.).
When taking minutes, write in a direct manner focusing on the need-to-know information (key items discussed and/or actions to be taken). Avoid presenting any subjective opinions. The purpose of the minutes is to present an objective account of the business meeting, not to share personal opinion or to share who did what to whom. Use as few words as necessary and reduce the number of adjectives. Plain simple language is best.
You’ll have a good start at making the minutes complete if you have covered off all 5 Ws. Here you should focus on providing all the information the reader needs to determine what happened, who is to do what, and what the next steps are. In addition, use the same style throughout your writing (conversational, casual, formal, etc.).
Minutes need to follow the rules of grammar and punctuation. Don’t just use spell check; have someone read the minutes to ensure clarity. As another option, you could have the person who ran the meeting review the minutes prior to distributing them to the necessary parties.
Remember less is more. After reading the minutes, the reader should know all the important information about the meeting and what their responsibilities are. This can help reduce the feeling that a meeting was a waste of time.
The 4 Cs of writing apply to any writing you need to create. Implementing the 4 Cs of writing is an awesome way to help keep your writing on track.