With thanks to all who participated in my latest Weekend Poll, here are your responses to my questions associated with all those hours you spend on minutes!
Minutes are part of the career
A whopping 96% of respondents told me you’re responsible for recording minutes. While 16% of participants record minutes for a single committee or body, and another 27% do so for two bodies, a full 57% of respondents attend and record meetings for three or more bodies.
Recording for multiple bodies
I wasn’t surprised to see the breakdown in terms of how many different committees or bodies some of you support – after all, in my last role, I routinely coordinated, attended and recorded meetings for a board of directors and all five of its committees. That meant preparing eight different sets of minutes during each month in which meetings were held. As it turns out, a full 17% of respondents also record meetings for six or morebodies.
While 19% of respondents reported recording minutes for three committees or bodies, another 12% do so for four bodies and another 9% for five bodies. This can make your role increasingly interesting or challenging, depending on your situation and your outlook.
How many chairs are there in your life?
One in five respondents reported working with a single meeting/committee chair, while 21% work with two. Forty-four percent of respondents adapt to the working styles of either three or four meeting or committee chairs. Fifteen percent of respondents, however, record meetings chaired by five or more different individuals.
How much of your life revolves around minutes?
Forty-four percent of respondents spend 10% or less of their careers working on minutes. For 31%, this responsibility consumes somewhere between 11% and 20% of their time at work. One in four respondents reported spending more than 20% of their working life taking care of minutes.
But how do you feel about recording them?
Let’s look first at your confidence with this part of the job. Fifty-one percent of respondents are generally confident with them, with exceptions that may depend on the meeting focus/subject matter or the chair’s expectations. Thirty-two percent of respondents reported being very confident when it comes to recording minutes, while 17% have low confidence levels.
It’s unsurprising, then, that 17% of respondents said they dread attending and recording meetings. Almost one third (30%) reported that, while they wouldn’t say they enjoy this aspect of the job, they’re fine with it.
Who loves attending and recording meetings, you ask? That would be 2% of respondents. Another 51% said that love is too strong a word, but that they’re fine with recording minutes and value opportunities to gain insights on what’s going on.
The majority, 52%, reported using laptops to record meetings, while 5% use audio recordings and another 13% rely on a combination of both laptops and audio recordings. Eight percent of these assistants specifically rely on portal software for recording meetings.
Twenty-nine percent of respondents take a low tech approach. Fourteen percent use shorthand, 13% record in longhand, and 2% of respondents use speedwriting.
As your meetings unfold, the majority of respondents (59%) record sentences or almost complete sentences and edit their documents post-meeting. Just over a third, 36%, record key phrases or words during their meetings and flesh out the details after the fact.
Pre-prepared minute templates
During my days in the boardroom, I built in efficiencies by entering the meeting room with the core of my minutes pre-prepared from templates. While I used to prepare them myself in advance of meetings, my workload grew to such an extent that delegation was in order. As each board and committee meeting agenda was set and I finalised the documents, I’d place them on a shared drive so that an executive assistant colleague, Bette, would then prep seven sets of of minute templates for me.
As it turns out, 73% of respondents also prepare templates/the core of your minutes before entering your meetings.
Keeping up with standards
Depending on how long you’ve been in the career, you may have seen significant changes in what should and should not be recorded. As well, recording expectations can vary depending on the chair, the nature of your meetings, the organisation itself and more.
With all this in mind, I asked readers how recently you’ve participated in training/professional development (PD) related to recording minutes. For 10% of respondents, it’s been 11 months or less; a total of 23% have attended related training within the last three years.
Half of all respondents said it’s been more than five years since you’ve undertaken related professional develpoment, and another 14% said you’ve been doing this for years and don’t need training.
Have a look below for all the details.
All the hours you spend on minutes …
1. In your role, are you responsible for recording meeting minutes?
- Yes: 96% of respondents
- No: 4% of respondents
2. What percentage of your working life do you estimate you spend on minutes?
- 1-5%: 19% of respondents
- 6-10%: 25% of respondents
- 11-15%: 15% of respondents
- 16-20%: 16% of respondents
- 21-25%:12% of respondents
- >25%: 13% of respondents
3. On a scale of 1 (low confidence) to 3 (very confident), how confident are you when it comes to recording minutes?
- 51% of respondents 2 – generally confident, with exceptions depending on meeting focus (subject matter) or chair’s expectations (2 out of 3)
- 32% of respondents: very confident: (3 out of 3)
- 17% of respondents: 1 – low confidence (1 out of 3)
4. How much do you enjoy attending and recording meetings?
- 51% of respondents: Love is too strong a word, but I’m fine with recording minutes and value opportunities to gain insights on what’s going on
- 30% of respondents: I wouldn’t say I enjoy it, but I’m fine with this part of the job
- 17% of respondents: not at all; I dread it
- 2% of respondents: I love it
5. When is the last time you participated in training/professional development related to recording minutes?
- 8% of respondents: within the last 6 months
- 2% of respondents: within the last 7-11 months
- 5% of respondents: 1 to 2 years ago
- 8% of respondents: 2 to 3 years ago
- 5% of respondents: 3 to 4 years ago
- 8% of respondents: 4 to 5 years ago
- 50% of respondents: >5 years ago
- 14% of respondents: I’ve been doing this for years and don’t need training
6. For how many different committees/bodies do you record minutes?
- 16% of respondents: 1
- 27% of respondents: 2
- 19% of respondents: 3
- 12% of respondents: 4
- 9% of respondents: 5
- 8.5% of respondents: 6
- 8.5% of respondents: >6
7. With how many different meeting/committee chairs do you work?
- 20% of respondents: 1
- 21% of respondents: 2
- 24% of respondents: 3
- 20% of respondents: 4
- 5% of respondents: 5
- 2% of respondents: 6
- 8% of respondents: >6
8. If you prepare minutes for more than a single body within your organisation, which of the following best describes the minutes you produce?
- 54% of respondents: templates/formatting, styles and standards are consistent from one body to the next
- 46% of respondents: templates/formatting, styles and standards vary from one body to the next
9. If you work with different meeting chairs whose expectations, style and formatting preferences vary, which of the following best describes the impact on you?
- 52% of respondents: It’s a non-issue; I adjust accordingly
- 25% of respondents: It’s manageable, but requires additional expenditures of time
- 15% of respondents: This creates more pressure than people might anticipate
- 8% of respondents: It’s manageable for the most part, but I almost dread submitting minutes to one chair in particular
10. Within your organisation as a whole, which of the following best describes how minutes are prepared?
- 49% of respondents: There are some consistencies of expectations, style and templates
- 27% of respondents: there is almost no consistency of expectations, style or template from one department/division/unit/ location to the next
- 24% of respondents: Expectations, styles and templates are consistent
11. Which best describes the autonomy with which you approach your recording template(s) and style?
- 35% of respondents: I have almost complete autonomy
- 28% of respondents: It varies with each body or committee; some chairs have very specific expectations
- 16% of respondents: We have organisation-wide expectations, styles and/or templates
- 13% of respondents: I have complete autonomy
- 8% of respondents: My principal (boss) dictates this
12. If you work with more than one committee/meeting chair, have you broached the topic of standardising expectations and/or templates and styles?
- 28% of respondents: No, because expectations are already consistent
- 26% of respondents: Yes, and we’ve established consistencies or are working on this
- 18% of respondents: No, but I may do so
- 16% of respondents: No, because I’m pretty sure they will want to stick with what they have
- 8% of respondents: Yes, but there’s no interest in this
- 4% of respondents: No; I hadn’t thought of this
13. Do you typically enter your meetings with the core document/template for your minutes pre-prepared?
- 73% of respondents: Yes
- 23% of respondents: No
- 4% of respondents: I hadn’t thought of this, but will do so
14. Which of the following best describes your tools for recording meetings?
- 52% of respondents: laptop
- 14% of respondents: shorthand
- 13% of respondents: longhand
- 13% of respondents: combination of laptop and audio recording
- 5% of respondents: audio recording (Apple, Dragon, Google, Otter or other)
- 2% of respondents: speedwriting
- 1% of respondents: audio and video recording
15. If you audio record meetings, which of the following best describes participants’ reactions?
- 55% of respondents: Participants are comfortable and speak freely
- 15% of respondents: Participants seemed to be less vocal initally but reverted to norms
- 12% of respondents: Some participants remain uncomfortable with this
- 12% of respondents: There have been expressions of privacy concerns, and we are working through these
- 6% of respondents: We’ve documented practices and I delete recordings once minutes are approved
16. Do you use portal software in preparing your minutes?
- 85% of respondents: No; we don’t use a portal
- 8% of respondents: Yes
- 3% of respondents: No; we have a portal with this capability but the chair doesn’t want to use it
- 3% of respondents: No; we have a portal with this capability but the chair doesn’t want to use it
- 1% of respondents: No; we have a portal with this capability but I don’t want to use it
17. Which of the following best describes your approach to recording meetings?
- 59% of respondents: I record sentences/almost complete sentences and edit post-meeting
- 36% of respondents: I record key words/phrases and flesh out the details after
- 4% of respondents: I record verbatim
- 1% of respondents: I use portal software, which auto populates some info
18. Do you typically invest time in pre-reading agenda packages to support your familiarity with the material to be discussed and recorded?
- 30% of respondents: Yes; I do some pre-reading but with no particular focus
- 22% of respondents: Yes; I read the executive summaries/ briefs
- 16% of respondents: Yes; I read each agenda package in full
- 11% of respondents: Yes; I focus in on agenda items that are new to me
- 8% of respondents: Yes; I focus on any potentially contentious agenda items
- 8% of respondents: No; I’d never get the rest of my job done
- 5% of respondents: No
19. How soon after meetings do you typically have minutes ready drafted and ready for review?
- 42% of respondents: within a week
- 27% of respondents: within 24 hours
- 11% of respondents: the same day
- 8% of respondents: It’s an ongoing challenge fitting this in; I never have them ready as early as I’d like
- 7% of respondents: within a couple of weeks
- 5% of respondents: right around the deadline for circulation of the next agenda package