Are Your Minutes Objective?

Do you invest time and energy in inappropriately embellishing your minutes?

Paris Bakery 15-8584 Copyright Shelagh DonnellyWhile there’s a time and place (such as the Parisian patisserie pictured here) for ornamentation and embellishment, you want to refrain from this in your writing style for minutes.  

When it comes to minutes, those unnecessary embellishments may be adjectives and quantifiers rather than colourful icing,  dark chocolate, berries and other confectionery concoctions.

It was a board member, one who held the role of vice president in his day job, who helped me on this front years ago.

I didn’t typically insert my perspective in minutes, yet I did quantify a statement in one set, using the word “very” or something to that effect in a sentence. While the board approved the minutes, Mike took a minute during a break between sessions to privately offer me some friendly advice.

He commented that, in using such a term, I’d quantified the matter at hand – and that this was not objective. The fact that my assessment was correct was beside the point. It’s not the recorder’s role to assess or categorise the nature or quality of a debate or presentation. This was one of the best pieces of minute-related advice I’ve received.

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Minutes are objective records, and should not contain subjective observations. Think about this statement, and then check your work. Do any of your minutes depict inspiring, intense, motivational, extraordinary, heated (or other such) presentations, deliberations or debates? Such use of adjectives may be subjective, and represent the recorder’s interpretation (however accurate it may be) of tone.

Do your minutes pronounce someone as having been “happy to advise” a committee, or “proud to report” on results? Even if you are accurate in perceiving that someone was “anxiously seeking” resolution to an issue, do you think the speaker would appreciate this characterisation being preserved for prosperity?

It’s Not A Matter of Degree

Review your work for the use of words such as “very” or “thoroughly”, which imply your assessment of degree; that is not your role. It can be easy to slip into such modes, which are not appropriate.

Instead, skilled assistants will retain focus on the reason we record minutes. In short, we are creating historic records of the business conducted, the decisions made and commitments undertaken.

 Remember to minimise the embellishments, and you’ll have simply elegant minutes

Montreal Bakery 14-4369 Copyright Shelagh Donnelly

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