Taking Meeting Minutes Best Practices

Hey all!

I was wondering if anyone had access to any resources on best practices for taking meeting minutes.

Before I came to sociocracy, I used to take pretty much verbatim minutes. Now after using it with some groups and taking the SoLT class I have switched to trying to take minutes of just the notes that fit within the agenda questions, and not even taking note of who says what but more of the content.

In a local group (Valley Community Land Trust) I am a part of, we were discussing how much to take in meeting minutes, to make them clear for folks to read who weren’t there, but not too verbose.

If you have any resources for best practices, I would appreciate it!

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Sorry for the delay! @saulshanabrook

Here’s what I recommend:

Reports
Type basic keywords/sentences. Or link the slides/report that the reporting person brought.
Clarifying questions and answers. just add the info from the answer. Typically, it’s irrelevant whether that info was included in the original report or added in response of a clarifying question.

Explorations
Depends on the intention of the exploration. For example, if someone asks for input for a task of theirs, scarce notes are okay because they will likely retain the details and it’s only relevant for them.
If we are brainstorming proposal ideas, I just type the gist of the ideas. I simply add point by point as people speak, and gently cluster them or provide headers, just to already start to process the information a little.

Decisions
The proposal in its final wording.
Added info that comes out in clarifying questions.
Reactions (keywords).
Indicate whether it’s consented to or not.

If there’s an objection, I will often just edit the proposal. If there’s a tedious objection process, we might want to document the process and list all stages:

  • Proposal 1
    Objection: xyz,
  • Proposal 2
    (consented)

A few more general comments

  • Verbatim notes are NOT helpful. You get into all kinds of “this is not what I said” discussions that aren’t helpful. It’s also simply too much and therefore not accessible because outsiders have to read a lot to get the info.
  • I never type who said what unless it’s absolutely critical, which it only is if who says it provides relevant context. But that’s so rare, I don’t even remember an example.
  • The most important function of notes can be the PROCESS of taking them because we already provide real-time structure. For example, indicate which topic area (dimension) hasn’t received proposal ideas. That way, our notes are not for later but for now.
  • A smooth facilitator - secretary pairing is worth a lot! For example, the facilitator can ask the secretary to put backlog items on the backlog or action items in the task management system right then and there (or the secretary volunteers that they are doing that).

Others are welcome to add! Then we can turn it into an article to share with others.

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Thank you Ted, this is super helpful!

It’s great to see this all in one place. I’ll see if I have others to add as well, but this seems very thorough.

I’m including our group on this email as well, since this came up before for us.