Tips for Taking Minutes

setup | the important stuff | capturing discussion | afterwards | more information

The advice here is geared towards taking minutes for a distributed meeting using the W3C tools in IRC. However, much is applicable to face-to-face meetings and minutes taken with other tools (e.g., as text).


To prepare the IRC channel for taking minutes, the following IRC commands should be issued;

  1. /invite Zakim [channel] -- e.g., /invite Zakim #WidgetWG
  2. /invite RRSAgent [channel]
  3. Zakim, this conference is [conference name] -- see the teleconference calendar for the appropriate conference name.
  4. Meeting: [name] -- e.g., "Meeting: Widget Working Group Teleconference"
  5. Chair: [chair's name]
  6. Scribe: [your name]
  7. Agenda: [URI] -- a link to the meeting's agenda

The Important Stuff

If you remember to capture the following things, your job is mostly done.

Discussion Topics
TOPIC: [topic name]
Action Items
ACTION: [precisely worded text]
Decisions and Resolutions
RESOLUTION: [precisely worded text]
Be sure to capture any important announcements about deadlines, meeting dates, etc.

Be sure to avoid relying on surrounding discussion and other context, because action items and resolutions are usually read without the rest of the minutes. E.g., don't say "Joe should do this by tomorrow"; say "Joe should make a proposal about the Widget Model by 2004-12-09."

Capturing Discussion

Try to capture the general flow of discussion as it goes by; this should be in the form:

[name]: [gist of what they said]

Where "name" doesn't contain any spaces. If you need to continue what someone said, do it with elipses;

... [some more things that they said]

Always refer to the chair as "Chair", unless they specifically say they're not speaking in that capacity (they "take their hat off").

Remember, you always have the right to interrupt discussion to ask someone's name, or for clarification.


  1. Zakim, list participants
  2. RRSAgent, make logs public
  3. RRSAgent, generate minutes
  4. Zakim, bye
  5. RRSAgent, bye

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