The skills you need to be an accurate minute-taker (scribe)

Minute-takers, who scribe what people are saying (or a summary of what they’re saying) while they say it, at a meeting, interview or workshop, need a different set of skills and qualities than, say, a transcriptionist who scribes a recording of an event after it has transpired.

The skills you need to accurately scribe and produce the minutes of a meeting, transcript of an interview or report of a workshop or seminar are as follows.

  • Good corporate writing and self-editing skills (the better your writing and self-editing skills, the better your end product will be). This skill can be continually improved. The more experienced you are, the better your reports will be.
  • Ability to paraphrase and summarise, or at least leave out  the ‘unimportant’ words, as you type, and the ability to use shortforms (which you can translate into formal narrative style later). These skills are especially important when scribing when people are speaking quickly.
  • Excellent knowledge of spelling, grammar and punctuation, eye for detail and proofreading skills.
  • Fast touch-typing skills (90 to 100 words per minute). Because when you’re scribing, you need to be able to think faster than your flying fingers. For more information go to: How to increase your typing speed
  • Very good auditory (listening) and comprehension skills. See below for more details
  • Great accuracy. See below for more details
  • Ability to work under pressure.  See below for more details.

More details…

Very good auditory comprehension skills

You have to know which words and parts of the  meeting are really important words that must be scribed, and which words are less important. To do this, you don’t have to thoroughly know the subject that is being discussed. But you do need really good  auditory attention, discrimination and memory skills so you can comprehend what is being said, hold that information within your short-term memory while you’re listening to the next thing that’s being said, and record your summary of that information into your laptop or computer.

Great accuracy

Whilst your first draft of a meeting, interview, workshop or seminar doesn’t need to be highly accurate, it has to be accurate enough for you to rewrite/edit it into an accurate representation or summary of the event. This can be difficult when you have been scribing for two hours already and people are speaking at 140 words per minute. But it is necessary.

Ability to work under pressure

Even though you may be a very fast typist, when people are speaking at 100 to 140 words per minute you have to keep up or your minutes/report won’t be accurate. This can put you under a lot of pressure. For information about how to handle the different pressure of scribing, go to: The pressures of scribing and minute-taking.

Writing, summarising and editing skills

Stay posted for my future article that outlines the specific writing and editing skills a scribe needs to produce clear, accurate minutes or reports.

For more information, go to

How to prepare before minute-taking a meeting

Why pianists make good scribes and minute-takers

The pressures of scribing and minute-taking

How to learn to become an on-site scribe

Photograph: Alexas Photos – Pixabay – Creative Commons Licence 



Back To Blog