One of my mentors once offered these words of wisdom: “If you really care about something, volunteer to be the secretary.”

When he said it, I was baffled as to how fulfilling that role could make such a significant difference.  But as time went on, I got it, and believe that he was absolutely correct.

The one who takes the notes at a meeting defines the parameters as to what was discussed and interprets what was decided.  They have permission in a meeting to ask for clarification (ostensibly to get it correct for the minutes, but often to gain the clarity that was lacking.) The person who writes the proposal shapes the direction of what is included and often frames the outcomes that result.  The secretary is the one who takes minutes in a way that assigns actions and next steps.  This person takes the time to schedule the next meeting, write out the agenda, and have materials ready so decisions can result.  The secretary can move something forward through prompt updating of drafts, or allow it to stall through the reverse.  

Often the job of taking notes at a meeting is given to the person who drew the last straw.  If you really want to make the meeting matter, raise your hand to be the recorder.  The pen really is mightier than the sword.

— beth triplett

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