Taking Meeting Minutes

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The style of minutes has changed a lot over the last ten years – there is less emphasis on verbatim notes and more focus on actions.  The saying goes, “prior preparation and planning can prevent poor performance” and this applies as much for taking meeting minutes as it does for any other task.  So, if taking minutes for meetings leaves you in a cold sweat, here’s a few tips to get you ahead of the game:

Agendas and Papers

If you’re not the person preparing the agenda and papers, ask for copies along with previous minutes and make sure you review them before the meeting.  This will help you anticipate the discussion and decisions that need to be made.  It will also give you a guide as to what actions might arise.


Use previous meeting minutes and/or the agenda to create a template for your minutes. Most meetings will follow the order of the agenda and often the meeting papers will outline the decisions or actions to be taken. You can prep these in your template, meaning you can better focus on what is said in the meeting.

Speak to the Meeting Chair

The Chair will be able to guide you on how formal the minutes will need to be. They will also be the person who has the final sign off on the meeting minutes, so can give you guidance on the level of detail and format they expect.

 Choose your Technology

Some people still prefer to take minutes using paper and pen. Others prefer going straight to the laptop. Personally, I prefer to take minutes on the laptop as I type quicker than I write and if the agenda order changes, it’s easier to shift things around. If you are planning to use a laptop make sure it is fully charged or that there’ll be a plug close to where you are sitting. It’s also helpful to keep your original typed document, creating a new document when it comes to the editing process.  Always make sure you have a notebook and pen just in case your technology doesn’t work!

Arrive Early

Be the first one in the meeting room. Make sure any technology you plan to use is working and, as above, if you’re using a laptop, choose a seat close to a power supply. As people arrive, if you don’t know them, introduce yourself and make yourself a seating plan – this will make it easier to note who said what and who has received actions in the meeting.

Minute taking is a great skill to have, regardless of your role within a company, and it needn’t be daunting.

Photographer’s Copyright

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Pennie Withers is a Commercial and Event Photographer working in the Thames Valley and London.  She helps businesses stand out from the crowd by enabling them to have professional photographs on their websites, marketing materials and social media.

In the final guest blog of a three-part series by professional photographer Pennie Withers, she covers the thorny subject of Copyright.

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Happy New Year – 2018 is here!

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Welcome to 2018!

The first full working week of 2018, how are things going for you?  

Last week whizzed by for me, with an on-site day with one client and an excellent meeting with another, reviewing the past three months and planning for the coming months. My feet barely touched the ground.  Unfortunately, I was suffering with a cold (kindly donated by my nephew over Christmas, he was happy to gift it to me, my Mum and Dad, we have taught him to share well!).

This meant I wasn’t able to join my walking group on Saturday, however, I snuggled up at home and went slightly mad with de-cluttering rooms, updating music on i-tunes, putting the Christmas decorations into the loft and generally filling my recycling bin to the brim.  It felt very therapeutic, almost worth missing the walk!

I also reviewed my categories, which I have blogged about previously and thought it may be helpful to re-share with you, “Must Do”; “Should Do”; “Will Do”!

Must Do: for me, are things that have been outstanding for some time, not necessarily important, though items I would like to complete for my own sanity.

Should Do: are daily or weekly tasks that will be completed regularly and will always be there.  Identified in Outlook, my reminders keep these in hand.

Will Do:  are goals we have set for 2018, to assist Holly and I, in continuing to develop and grow Virtual Angels.

Take a look at your own task list, identify tasks that fit into each category, then book out regular blocks of time in your calendar to tackle them.  January is a great time to review processes and tickling completed items off at the end of the day provides a sense of achievement.

Make this full working week count and take a little time each day to identify and complete some Must, Should and Will Do tasks.  Let me know how much you enjoy ticking them off at the end of the day.

Dead Time – what can you do?

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I’m really busy……………..

People seem to be increasingly busy these days. Increased connectivity keeps us online and tuned in more than we have time out. When you’re on the move, whether traveling for business or between meetings, sometimes it can be frustrating when you have time waiting around. Here’s some ideas of what you can do in those short gaps:

Focus on a small project or task

When I’m travelling on a train, it is often my best time for writing blogs or thinking through a problem I need to solve for a client.  The lack of connectivity and restricted access to distractions makes it perfect thinking time.  Don’t force it though, go with your though flows – sometimes not thinking about something at all will help it come together in your head in the quiet times.

Catch Up

If you’re stuck at an airport, or have an hour to kill before meetings, it can be a great time to clear some of those emails that have been sitting around for a while. It can also be a really good time to read those blog posts or newsletters that looked really interesting when it popped in to your inbox.

Breathe and Take Time Out

Life is busy and actually, sometimes it is good just take some time out.  Whether it’s reading a book, knitting, meditating or taking some form of exercise. Whatever helps you wind down, try to find a way to take that with you when you’re travelling or away from the office going from meeting to meeting.

Three top tips for planning communication for your business

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Sarah Browning is a freelance people communication specialist and has been working with charities, not-for-profit and Higher Education organisations since 2003.  She is a certified member of the Institute of Internal Communications (CIIC) and a member of CharityComms.

In this guest blog, she offers three tips when planning communication for your business.

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Tips and Tricks: Gmail Settings (personal or business)

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Today, it’s Google’s turn for our ‘tips and tricks’ spot. Google have a range of apps for business under their GSuite subscription. One of these is Gmail, which is also available free as personal email. Continue reading “Tips and Tricks: Gmail Settings (personal or business)”

Building client relationships

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Work is a huge part of our lives, as well as being the most important factor in our financial well-being, it is the place where we socialise and build relationships.  Usually, we spend more time with our co-workers than we do with our families, so while you may think that working and socialising don’t mix, our social relationships with our workmates are a vital part of a healthy and productive workplace.

However, as a Virtual Assistant it’s not possible on a daily basis to meet your client in the office kitchen when making a cup of tea or have your lunch in the cafeteria together.  So how do you make sure that you get to know your clients, allowing you to build a successful working relationship?

Here are some tips for developing a productive and enduring relationships with your clients: Continue reading “Building client relationships”

Tidy desk, tidy mind?

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The old adage says ‘tidy house, tidy mind’, but there is conflicting information out there as to whether this extends to ‘tidy desk, tidy mind’. Some people say creativity is boosted by a messy desk, other people prefer a more minimalist approach. In many modern offices, a clear desk policy is normal – but often this has more to do with the security of documents than it has to do with the employees’ ability to concentrate. Continue reading “Tidy desk, tidy mind?”