RE: Tech Writers taking minutes

Subject: RE: Tech Writers taking minutes
From: "Harold B. Gill" <hal -at- web500 -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 30 Jun 2002 10:07:51 +0200

My take on minute taking is that it is something for which I volunteer
or I volunteer the writer on my staff to do the job.

My situation is that I am the Technical Editor of a young software
production company. The management and most of the developers are in
their first corporate situation and, much to my astonishment; don't tend
to take minutes during meetings. Their informality might be partially
cultural (they are Danish) however it impedes the progress and
efficiency of the company if minute taking is not done.

Furthermore, writing the minutes gives me the opportunity to subtly
shape the emphasis of the meetings. Applying my skills with the nuance
of language, I'm able to "lead up" in a manner of speaking. I find that
some of the "hooks" or "spin" that I can write into the minutes without
distorting the content end up being adopted whereas they would likely be
rejected if they were directly suggested.

Like any other task in technical communications, minute taking can be
regarded as an opportunity to extend influence in the organization. The
final goal always is to have a positive impact on the bottom line for my
employer. If they do well, I do least in theory ;) The theory
seems to be pretty well borne out by experience far.

One funny anecdote: My technical writer was surprised and a bit upset
that the minutes that I was writing of our Development Status meetings
were not being printed by the developers and taken to meetings even
though he was even going to the trouble to post them on our company
intranet. I explained it this way: "It's like giving a saw to a caveman.
It isn't intuitive that it's used for cutting wood. You have to show
them how to use the tool."

The main ingredients needed are diplomacy and tact. If I get defensive
or make anyone feel stupid in the process of "education", more harm than
good is done and my primary task, communication, is compromised.

Best regards/Med venlig hilsen

Hal Gill
Technical Editor
Web500 A/S

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