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Four Tips to Make Meeting Minutes Less of a Time Drain

Posted on April 23, 2021


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This article was written by Dana Healy, Executive Director of NineNorth. Connect with Dana by email or LinkedIn


I was speaking to a client yesterday about increasing communications for his city. “It’s difficult,” he said, “My City Clerk is also the Head of Communications.”

Oh dear. Once again, the City Clerk gets more responsibilities attached to their job description. The City Clerk position becomes a catch-all job, which can be overwhelming. Here is a couple of tips to help our very busy City Clerks tackle the meeting minute monster.

1. Templates

During the meeting, it can be difficult to take accurate notes about motions, and amendments. Utilize a simple template, where you can mark off actions rather than writing them out. Here is a simple, but useful guide (https://ninenorth.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Meeting-Minute-Notes-Template.docx) .

2. Video Playback

Lean on your local community media centers, who record and play your city meetings. Review the video of the meeting to take more detailed notes for your minutes. Some organizations, like ours at NineNorth, have packet and agenda indexing to jump you to certain points in the meeting, a real time saver for City Clerks looking for specific information.

3. Automate Deadlines

Packet assembly takes time since so many people are adding information. Without prompting, people can easily forget. Set up automated emails three days before packets are due to remind contributors to submit their reports. Automation can be set up through Gmail, Outlook, Slack, and my favorite, Zappier.

4. Cooperative Council

Really! Communicate with your City Council about agenda items and the possible length of a meeting. The more on-topic council’s and commissions can stay, the more streamlined the meeting can be. Develop a good report with your City Administrator and City Council Members. Communication is key!

Will these tips make your workload more reasonable? Gosh, I hope so. There is a lot on your shoulders. One thing that shouldn’t be on your shoulders in the video recording and web-streaming of the Municipal Meetings. Reach out to us at NineNorth and learn how we save hours a week in meeting coordination and video recording for our cities.


Dana Healy is the Executive Director of NineNorth and the CEO of the North Suburban Communications Commission. She leads a team of Emmy-award winning professionals that serves cities, nonprofits and government agencies looking to connect and engage with their communities through digital media. Her guiding principle is, “Don’t make videos, make an impact.” She holds two master’s degrees she earned while working full-time. Her passion is discovering and planning effective communication strategies to help municipalities reach their target audience. She also holds a third degree black belt in Karate, which she only occasionally uses in business meetings.  

Read more from Dana at the Amplify your City’s Voice: How Community Media Centers Can Help homepage.

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