Reported Speech

Wow. My blog has been quiet for some time.

I was on course for the past 2 days. I've been waiting to go for this one a very long time man! Minutes of Meeting @ the British Council PDC centre which happends to be just 8 floors above my office! Nice.

I write minutes for the almost weekly dept meetings. While my boss said its exactly what he's looking for.. i feel like my format and/or technique is not quite right. Is my grammar correct? Should i be noting certain points down, like is it imp or not or can it be skipped? etc...


I wrote before in this entry :

Is it correct to say "She WAS my consultant"? Whereas she is NOT dead and
still IS a consultant.

How about "She was the winner of YESTERDAY's contest." Wouldn't using a
past tense mean that she is not the winner anymore? But the contest happened
yesterday~ :S

The presenter told us that TRADITIONALLY (meaning what we learn in sch) is this way:

"Dialogue" => Reported speech

"I write minutes" => She said she wrote minutes
"I wrote minutes" => She said she had written minutes
"I am writing minutes" => She said she was writing minutes

etc etc....

BUT a group of linguists think that the first reported speech doesn't make sense if the person STILL writes the minutes. Therefore, it is ALSO acceptable if you write it this way:

She said she writes minutes.

It is IMPORTANT tho that you be consistent.

No wonder i was sooo confused. Wah and to think that i came up with the same reasoning as these linguists. Cheeebah. LOL


I wrote:

Should i say "Can i speak to _____" or "Can i speak with _______" ?

Why is it I'm not IN the office but i'm AT home? When office and home
seems to be the same kind of place you go INTO?

The lecturer said that there's no logic in the English Lang. As in there's no formula to remember which word is accompanied by which preposition or whatever. All u can do is refer to the dictionary. A good dictionary (eg: Oxford's dictionary for ADVANCED learners) would give example for each definition.

We learnt that same word with diff meaning can lead to diff sentence struction eg: "Approval"

1. Liking something / somebody. Eg: John's mother approves of his fiance
2. Agree to something. Eg: The board approves the minutes of meeting.

Something to that effect. It was CRAZY i tell you. I kept making the mistake of writing "to discuss ON the terms" when it should have just been "to discuss the terms". You only add ON before its noun ie "The discussion on the terms".

Note-taking & summarising

I also learnt 4 diff styles of minute taking in the form of a table/seat plan, mindmap or blank sheet. But the one i like most is the A4 Minute book with columns like Who, What, When.

Reminder to self: Always start a new topic / agenda on a fresh page. In case they get back to that topic, u can add it in easily.

When summarising, no need to include arguments, jokes bla bla bla... Its our duty to be impartial, leave out the unnecessary and spell out the conclusion.

How to Write them Down?

There are 3 types to write down the minutes: Narrative, REsolution and Action.

Resolution will only write the decisions made or resolved problems. Only relevant to board meetings.

Action minutes will only list down the list of actions to be taken.

Narrative, the most common, tells of who says what as well as who has to do what.

There is no hard & fast rule how the layout of the written minutes SHOULD be. But you should list down:
  1. Date & Time
  2. List of Present & Absent participants
  3. Title of meeting

You can have two column tables or numbered points with bullet subpoints. You can be concised, or you can write as much detail as you want. You can write in TRADITIONAL reported speech or the modern one (as long as you're consistent). This all depends on the CHAIR. Clarify with him/her how he'd like it to be or refer to previous style or both.

3 types of Tone Register

There are Strict, Professional and Informal tones in minutes.

Strict is for when you sit in Board Meetings - Imagine a Judge. Professional, like a management meeting. An Informal is like one between friends.

Strict / Professional / Informal

Appended / added / tacked on

Reiterate / insist / urge

Note: It is important that you keep the consistency of the register through out your minutes.

Rights & Obligations

We always have this traditional image of a minute taker. A silent lady at the corner of the room with her legs crossed and a notepad in hand.

I didnt know that its ok to:

  1. Ask Q to clarify what the presenter meant. (chances are you're doing the rest a favour too)
  2. Stop the chair from proceeding to the next point so u can finish writing

etc etc...

This is useful so that you can write ur minutes down more clearly. You know, i used to audio record the whole 1.5hr session of the meeting. I had tried listening back to the track but very diff to pause n rewind, i gave up.

It's also important that u take 5min or so to go thru ur notes in "downtime" of the meeting (eg: pple joking around) or right after the meeting so u can fill in info gaps.

There are lots more that i've learnt in those 2 days i cant simply summarise in this blog. You can msg me tho.


The training was a small one consisting only 8 pple. 7 of us clicked very very well. It is the first time i went for lunch w coursemates. Bcos i work in the same building, I am the designated tour guide and brought them to Amoy St on first day then Lau Pa Sat on the second. 3 of us lives in the north so we even went back together!

One is 6 months pregnant. When pple ask when she's due, i cldnt help but add, "Then u hafta ask me when im due also." They never fail to look surprised to know im 5 months pregnant! Im not showing just yet.

one or two of them have been complaining of how tiring this training is. A lot of Work. I cldnt disagree more. i LOVE British Council trainings. They are always interesting and Keeps you involved with lotsa hands-on practices. Granted, the lecturer is a bit rigid/strongly principled.

It's a shame that the friendship ended there. The lecturer forgot to take our emails to be circulated. Oh right.

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6 glasses of Juice:

Nurulain said...

Hi Jus,

I really liked this entry because it is so useful for me. I am currently interning and I have to do minutes too. I didn't know there were so many tips for minute-taking. Thanks for the info :)

Jussaemon said...

Heya Ain,

My greatest pleasure in writing that up. Soo happy to know somebody is benefiting from it. No.. really!! :D

Good luck in ur future minute writing!

Sandra said...

1. Yes, the English language (esp. American English) is very illogical. Like the phrase, "come over." Good luck and if you ever have a question I can help with, let me know.

2. I take minutes for meetings and have often done it by phone, as a conference call. I often had to clarify who was speaking and to what they were referring to. Everyone was fine with my few interruptions for this purpose.

as an objective outsider to the meetings (I don't work for the companies or groups, but am contracted as a consultant) I sometimes have the role of keeping the meeting on task and schedule. Sometimes there is a person in the meeting that takes too much time or is a disturbance, and my objectiveness in my role of minute-taker keeps things moving along without other meeting attendants having to directly address this person they also work with.

3. I love training things as well, ad miss them. I work for myself and it is not in my budget to do a lot of training stuff. I miss working for a company that paid me to take training!

4. Cute/funny/weird baby stuff: Hope you and Z. are doing ok as parents!


Nisa AK said...

This is great! I shall refer to this post the next time i have to take minutes :P

Jussaemon said...

Wow.. u take minutes for teleconferences!! Amazing!

Sounds like a chairperson's job to keep the meeting on target?

Yeah that's one of the disadv of having own co huh? But of course MORE adv too =)

Jussaemon said...

Nisa.. haha r u sure? my sis said its too long. But hope u guys get it and can use it too.. Can't wait for my next meeting to practise on. HAHAHA