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Writing minutes
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Stop and think for a moment: why do we write minutes at business meetings? What are our aims, what are the results, most of all: why bother? Their main purpose is to remind us of what was discussed or decided, and to remind people of what they need to do next - even if this only means reading the minutes in preparation for the next meeting.

Who takes them?

The person who takes the minutes at a business meeting is called the secretary of a meeting. Remember: this does not mean that the person's position in the company is really that of a secretary, merely that they are performing a specific and vital role in the meeting.

In some firms the secretary of a meeting may not be a participant, thus ensuring that the minutes are unbiased and also that nothing is forgotten while the secretary is engrossed in debate. However, this is not really necessary as long as the secretary is given enough time to both make notes and participate.

How are they taken?

In the "old days", minutes were often taken by real secretaries skilled at shorthand. Usually seated just behind the chairperson, she would note down almost everything said and later transcribe these notes into official minutes. These would have to be approved by the chairperson before being circulated to the remainder of the people involved.

Today, as we have already mentioned, the label of "secretary" does not necessarily mean that a secretary takes the minutes, and shorthand is no longer required. If the secretary of the meeting can write fast and is comfortable doing so, the notes might be taken by hand. Alternatively, she or he might make notes on a PDA or notebook. The meeting could also be recorded, aurally or audio-visually, and later transcribed.

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