Notice, Notes and Minutes8th February 2020
Notice of a meeting
When a meeting is to be convened, a notice is required to be sent to all who are to attend it.
It should satisfy these conditions:
- It should be under proper authority
- It should state the name of the organization
- It should state the day, date, time, and place. Also, sometimes, how to reach the place
- It should be well in advance. Some require seven days’ notice, some 48 hours’
- It should state the purpose and, if possible, the agenda
- It should carry the date of circulation and convener’s/secretary’s signature
- It should go to all persons required at the meet
- It should mention the TA/DA etc. payable and the arrangements for this
In practice, it is necessary to ensure that the notice has reached in time. This may be done telephonically. Dispatch section and post are prone to delays
We often find that between the date of a letter from a major public organisation and the post mark on the letter, there is a gap of 10-12 days. A notice that should reach seven days before a meet should not reach seven days after the meet.
Notes at a meeting
Taking notes at a meeting is a completely different task than taking minutes at a meeting. Meeting notes tend to be for personal reference, while meeting minutes are for official record-keeping purposes. When taking notes, one is not focusing on a general outline of decisions that were made or topics covered. Rather, the notes should serve as a comprehensive listing of the details of the meeting and the ideas and topics covered.
Methods for Taking Meeting Notes
There are a number of ways to effectively take notes at a meeting. Choosing a method should depend entirely on the note taker and how they are best suited to retain information and enhance their understanding of the topic.
(i) Comprehensive notes
For a person who is more comfortable knowing and recording every single detail, it is best to write down everything that is said. While this would be difficult or impossible for some, for others it is simply the only way to be sure the information they collect is accurate.
To write these types of notes, it is best to have different color pens or highlighters. This way, items that are especially important can be circled or highlighted to bring attention to them when the notes are being reviewed. Information such as deadlines or phone numbers are easier to keep track of amidst the vast amount of information gathered this way if there is some way to single them out. Another great method is to record the meeting with a digital audio recorder and then write comprehensive notes while listening back.
(ii) Mind mapping
This graphical approach is an excellent option for people who do not want, or who don’t feel able to accumulate detailed written information. To create a mind map, it is best to obtain a copy of the agenda prior to the meeting. Then list any topics of the meeting on the center of a piece of paper. Each topic should have its own page to allow enough room to branch out as necessary.
Minutes of the meeting
The minutes of a meeting are the record of the discussions/decisions therein. They have an official status; they are useful in law, and in some cases required by law to be written. Minutes are final when they are approved by the members of the group to which they relate, generally in the next meeting, and signed by the chairperson.
Even if there are emotional moments in a meet, the minutes are written in an unemotional manner, are cool, factual, impersonal, and impartial. Moreover, such are the demands of time on most people that the minutes should be concise, boiled down to the essentials.
Only some organizations’ require that they record the detailed discussions as well (i.e. who said what and what were the reactions… until the decision was reached). Normally, the body of the minute’s records.
(a) The motions and amendments thereto
(b) The proposer and seconded of motions
(c) The details of voting, if any
(e) Decisions/ resolutions
(f) Tasks assigned to individuals, sub-committees
The overall minutes should give:
- The name of the organization/ unit
- Day, date, time and place
- Number in order (e.g. 33rd meeting of…)
- Names of chairperson and secretary
- Names of members present
- Names of the absent
- Attendees by special invitation, e.g. auditor, caterer, etc.
- Record of the transactions (on the guidelines given above)
- Signature of secretary and, after approval, that of the chairman.
Tips for writing minutes
The minutes are written generally by the secretary from the notes taken during the meet. He/she can use the agenda as the framework for writing them and use short forms, shorthand etc. to take quick and accurate notes. He may have to ask members to repeat their words to get them right.
He should note down all the particulars needed for the fair copy of minutes. The items of the minutes can be written under short headings such as are used in the agenda.
(As for reading them, some committees circulate them in advance and take them as read. Otherwise the reader should read them loudly, clearly, and quickly.)
Style wise, they use one of these constructions:
- It was resolved that the minutes of the previous meeting be approved.
- It was decided that a sub-committee be set up to consider
- Resolved that a blood donation camp be held on 15th August. (The verb is used in the subjunctive mood: “be done, be appointed”, etc.)