Feature Articles

Feature Articles

We will be adding some interesting articles from our team to share with you for your reading pleasure. Hopefully, you will find them interesting and useful.

1. How to write good effective minutes that work!

By our freelance writer who is an experienced minute taker who has written an uncountable number of minutes :-)

I believe anyone in the corporate world would find himself or herself having to write minutes or taking notes of a meeting in some phase of their working life.

Some people seem to be able to do it well and fast while others take much time. Of course, having a good command of the English language helps but there is more to it than merely knowing good English.

To really prepare well and write good minutes is a skill that can be learnt and here I shall expose all the tricks that I have learnt as an experienced note taker and share with you. Hopefully, it will help you to become a more effective minute taker quickly.

Tip 1: Understanding what you are in for...
Most of the time, we get called upon to take notes by our bosses without having any idea what is the meeting about. To go in having no idea is a big NO NO. Be brave and ask your boss what the meeting is about. You don’t need your boss to go into details .. you simply need to know the agenda and purpose of the meeting so that your mind can mentally set the context. This will allow you to better catch the key points of the meeting easily and effortlessly later.

Tip 2: Is there any agenda?
Lack of an agenda is like going into the mountains without a map. No one knows what it is about and when it will end. More importantly, it gives you added information on how the meeting will go thereby allowing you to get an idea of how the meeting will flow to plan your minutes writing.

Tip 3: Who's there?
Get an idea of who will be at the meeting. If you don't, then go there with a piece of paper and ask who ever enters into the meeting room to write their name, department and designation so that you know who is saying what later and also to include the names of the attendees in your minutes later.

Tip 4: Arrive 10 minutes earlier
Arriving early not only allows you time to get ready, it allows you to catch each attendee as they come in thus giving you enough time to get their names and titles if you don’t already know them. Also arriving late doesn't reflect well on you as the meeting obviously cannot commence without the minute taker.

Tip 5: Two is better than one
A simple but yet frequently overlooked fact. Bring two pens! You never know when one pen will run out of ink and it is really embarrassing if you have to ask your boss or colleagues in the middle of the meeting for a pen. Walking out of the meeting to get a pen also doesn't reflect well on your image giving people the perception how poorly prepared you are.

Tip 6: Strategic positioning
Try to sit or place yourself near the chairperson so that you can clearly hear whatever has been said since the chairperson is going to be the person who is going to vet or approve your minutes so it is important to ensure that you capture what he/she has said.

Tip 7: Getting the gist
During the meeting there is bound to be many discussion of which some are related to the meeting and some are not. Always keep alert and record only those stuff that are relevant to the meeting agenda and filter away all the 'noise'. More importantly, capture the key decisions made and also the action items and who is to follow up on these action items.

Tip 8: The good old pen and paper
Some people has advocated typing the minutes on a laptop as the meeting progresses. I find that recording the notes on paper is much faster especially if you are a slow typist. Also, it allows you the freedom to scribble and draw mind maps which will help you easily type out the minutes later instead. The typing noise I think is also particularly annoying.

Tip 9: Finishing it fast
After the meeting, aspire to finish the minutes within 1-2 days. The reasons are simple. The information is still fresh in your mind hence it is easy to recall and type it down fairly quickly. Finishing it early and submitting to your boss also improves their impression about you as it allows them to clear the minutes fast and ensure that the relevant people can proceed with their action items asap.

2. Language Variations

Do you know that there are actually many variations of a language. For instance, Simplified Chinese as written and spoken in Singapore is different from that in China. Likewise, although Traditional Chinese is used in both Hong Kong and Taiwan, there are still slightly differences in some terminologies.

Besides Simplified and Traditional Chinese, there are also differences between Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese as well as Spanish used in Spain vs those used in Europe.

Also, there are many variations of the Indian language too. The most commonly spoken Indian languages are Hindi, Bengali and Tamil etc. Check this out for the many languages used in India: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_India

Therefore, when we carry out translation, it is always important to determine precisely which country that particular language is to be localised/translated too. Take note of these variations when you are planning to translate a document and you can ensure that it will relate better to the people there.

3. Translation vs Interpretation

Many people often get confused between translation and interpretation. Translation usually refers to the written format whereas interpretation is a spoken form. Interpretation can in turn be classified as consecutive interpretation or simultaneous interpretation with the latter generally being more challenging as the interpreter has to interpret concurrently as the speaker speaks whereas in consecutive interpretation, the interpreter speaks after the speaker has finished speaking.

The skills sets for both interpretation and translation are not exactly identical. A good interpreter may not necessarily be a good translator when it comes to writing/editing. Clients should try to find out the experience of the interpreter before engaging them while for those who aspire to become translators or interpreters, it is important to firstly understand whether translation or interpretation suit your strengths and personality more. Refer to Wikipedia for more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_interpretation

Get a Quote - Do you need help to translate, proofread or write a document ? Just email team@languagesurf.com for a quote now!

Join us - We are always looking for excellent freelance translators to join our growing team. To find out more, just email team@languagesurf.com We hope to hear from you soon !

"Every language is a world. Without translation, we would inhabit parishes bordering on silence."
George Steiner