Spotlight on: Minute and Note taking

Posted on 28th April 2023

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Here at Lummus Virtual Solutions, we’re able to transcribe online meetings, either live or recorded. 

We find this is a sought-after skill by the legal profession, HR consultants and others. 

It’s all too common to attend a meeting thinking you’ll remember what was said, only to find that each participant has a different recollection or understanding. We’ve all been there.

Whilst your memory might fail you, a good set of minutes or notes won’t!

A good set of minutes or notes also ensures that the way forward is well-defined through a clear set of action points.

If taking notes is too much hassle, you’ll stop doing it. Similarly, if no one refers to them because they’re too hard to understand, you’ve wasted the effort.

That’s where a designated, professional note or minute taker is worth their weight in gold.

One of the first things we establish with the client is whether they’re looking for notes or minutes.

So, what’s the difference?

Notes tend to be a detailed summary of the discussion. An example might be something along the lines of, "a discussion took place surrounding x, and it was agreed that y". 

Meeting minutes are typically a more formal record, whereas meeting notes tend to be for internal use. If you have external participants in your meeting, you may wish to consider minutes, but there may be other factors at play, and it’s a decision to be taken in each case on merit.

Either way, the intent is the same: to record what was discussed.

Next, we’ll look at the depth of detail you wish to capture: should it be verbatim or intelligent verbatim?

Verbatim  captures everything that was said, including every ‘umm and errr’.

Intelligent verbatim , as the name might suggest, captures everything that was said but strips out the extraneous and superfluous.

What we ask from you:

✅ A copy of the meeting agenda, if there is one.

✅ If there is a copy of the minutes/notes from a similar meeting to help us gauge the depth of detail required, style, format, etc, this would be helpful. If you have a minutes/notes template in your house style, please let us have a copy.

✅ If there is any special terminology or any acronyms that are likely to be used, it's helpful to know these in advance. 

✅ We request a meeting with the chair. This can be 15 minutes immediately prior to the start of the meeting. This allows us to gain an understanding of the specifics of the meeting, e.g. what the background is, who everyone is and why they are at the meeting, etc.

✅ We ask that the chair begins the meeting with proper introductions to allow us a better understanding and to capture the individual speakers better.

✅ Whilst recognising that the note taker/minute taker’s job is to be in the background, sometimes things happen when they do need to interject in order to do their job properly. We keep these to a minimum, but if, for instance, someone has a strong accent or a poor connection, it may be necessary to clarify what was said.

✅ If there is a lot of background noise or people are talking over each other, we would expect to have the authority to ask an attendee to put themselves on mute when not speaking or to politely ask attendees not to talk over each other. This allows us to do the job to the best of our ability.

✅ We would agree on a signal such as a raising of the hand with the chair if we need a point clarifying or agree with you that we should interject if the need arises. Again, these would be kept to a minimum, but sometimes language or acronyms arise which need clarification (e.g. SPT or SBT).

✅ We ask that the chair clearly confirms any action points, e.g. “note that as an action point for xxx.” This ensures that the whole meeting is clear and in agreement.

✅ Sometimes, note takers are given the opportunity every now and then to read out what they’ve captured to give the attendees the opportunity to agree that it’s an accurate reflection and what they intended to say. This can be worth consideration.

How we work:

👉🏼 Our charges are by the hour and include the 15 minute meeting with the chair, the meeting itself and editing the notes/minutes after the meeting.

👉🏼 Typically, we would capture as much information during the meeting as possible and then edit out what is not required and tidy up the notes/minutes. As a general rule of thumb, this edit takes around the same length of time as the meeting, although various factors can be at play to make this more or less, e.g. number of speakers and complexity of language.

👉🏼 Our time is rounded up or down to the nearest 15 minutes.

👉🏼 We would agree on a turnaround time to produce the final minutes or notes before commencing work.

👉🏼 Before returning the final document, we would agree with you by what means you'd like this to be transmitted and if it should be password-protected. 

👉🏼 We would ask you to review and sign our terms and conditions. Not only does this ensure that both parties are clear on what has been agreed, but it also protects you as it contains a clause on confidentiality.

When hiring Lummus Virtual Solutions, you can be confident you’re in safe hands. We are all fully insured and registered with the Information Commissioner's Office for data protection.

We work with an encrypted hard drive, have professional-grade internet security and sole use of a password-protected device.

Here's what one client said:

Denise Murphy of the HR Dept Wimbledon and New Malden had this feedback for us, "I am very pleased with the service provided and greatly appreciate the support."

If there is anything further you wish to know, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Let’s just have a chat and see where it takes us!

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