Hello and thanks for taking minutes for the New York City General Assembly! Taking minutes for GA is a big responsibility, and involves a bit more than the summary-style minutes you may have used in other groups. Here are a few tips for making the minutes as consistent and high-quality as possible.
Treat minutes as a historical preservation of GA proceedings. Minutes are essential not only for written record, but for GA accountability and transparency. Anyone should be able to look back and see not just what was decided, but how the Facilitation team handled the dialogue, what the mood of the crowd was, how hard or easy the process was, etc. A minute taker aims to be 1) accurate, 2) objective, 3) thorough, and 4) sensitive to crowd dynamics. One goal to keep in mind as you type is that if anyone went back to the live stream footage of the GA and checked it against the minutes, they would find the minutes to be accurate and objective. A secondary goal is that anyone can get a “feel” for the meeting as if they were there, by reading the minutes.
- Aim for a verbatim transcript
- If you fall behind, use ellipsis (…) to show there is missing material and jump to the current dialogue rather than scrambling to catch up.
- Only fill in material from memory if you are absolutely sure of the wording. Better yet, don’t fill in material from memory. The idea is historical accuracy.
- Common abbreviations: GA (General Assembly), OWS (Occupy Wall Street), NYC (New York City), CQs (clarifying questions), R (response), Crn (concern), FAs (friendly amendments), temp (temperature), WG (working group),WGRBs (working group report backs), PoP (point of process), PoI (point of information), F (facilitator). Limit use of other abbreviations, or go back to expand them afterwards.
- Use CQ:, Crn:, FA:, R:, F:, PoP:, PoI: to introduce facilitators and different parts of dialogue. If a speaker’s name is given, use the name to introduce what is said.
- When temperature checks are taken, look around and assess the response. Write results in brackets. Example: [mostly positive], [mixed], [lots of negative]
- Other visual aids and demonstrations that are not spoken can be described in brackets.
- Capitalization: Use proper capitalization and/or go back to fix it afterwards. Names of working groups should be capitalized, but not the words “working group”. Example: “Principles of Solidarity working group” or “Principles of Solidarity WG”
- Some common procedures are reviewed at every GA and don’t need to be re-typed every time. They can be put in brackets to indicate that they happened. These are: [review of hand signals] [review of GA process] [review of consensus process] [review of progressive stack].
- The invitation to join the Facilitation working group, statement that the facilitators are not leaders, and information about their meeting times, is mentioned at every GA but should still be explicitly typed out each time. This is an important check/balance between Facilitation and the GA.
- If there is side conversation, for example between facilitators and presenters, it does not need to be typed unless it is mic checked
- Interruptions/disruptions do not need to be typed unless they are mic checked.
- Mic is not spelled “mike”
- Avoid giving editorial commentary unless it fills in important contextual information. Aim for a neutral, comprehensive record of GA proceedings.
- New paragraph for each new speaker, except statements from anyone within the Facilitation team can be treated as one speaker.
- There is no need for an extra space between paragraphs; the website automatically doubles spacing between paragraphs when posting.
- If a presenter reads from a printed document, it can be helpful to obtain a copy of the document and use that to fill in/verify the minutes.
Please proofread your minutes for typos, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation before submitting. Expand any non-conventional abbreviations.
Thanks again, we love our wonderful volunteers and we couldn’t do it without all of us! We’re helping ourselves make history!