On this post, you will learn what is meeting minutes and why it is so important. I will also show you how to write the minutes of a meeting together with samples and templates.
You are on this page possibly because you need help on how to write minutes in a meeting. Maybe you have been appointed secretary to the governing board of your organization and has been tasked with the responsibility of taking notes during meetings. Maybe it’s a small committee of an organization set up to carry out a project. Whichever it is, if you have been saddled with the responsibility or you just volunteered to take notes during meetings, you will find this post helpful.
Here, I will be giving you great ideas and tips to help you get started with the task of preparing an effective meeting minutes. I’m going to give you some meeting minutes sample and meeting minutes template you can choose from.
As we journey through this expository article, it is important to note that the format, style and content requirements for meeting minutes vary based on organization, committee or board. And my job here is to give you a general guideline.
What Exactly are Meeting Minutes?
Meeting minutes are also referred to as Minutes of Meeting (mom). Many look at it at the surface level and think it means writing every single thing that is said in a meeting minute by minute. That could portray the task as daunting and could scare some people. Fortunately, meeting minutes does not mean that.
It is a written record or summary of everything that happened during a meeting. The meeting can be one for board of directors, members of a committee, or group. They are used to update those who were absent during the meeting of what happened in the meeting. Minutes are also a means of keeping track of the important decisions taken in a meeting for future references.
What is the Purpose of Meeting Minutes?
Most times, the purpose of a meeting is to assess the progress of previous plans, make decisions and plan for the future. The purpose of meeting minutes in also be in that line. Meeting minutes
- provide a historical record of the plans of an organization.
- are used by participants as a record for future references.
- help to track the kinds of progression that has taken place in an organization.
- serve as reminders as to who was given responsibilities and what was given to them.
- also serve as evidence of action points and deadlines.
- can be used for legal purposes. If well documented, they can be used to confirm the ethical and fair practices of the organization in case it get sued.
Items that Should be Included When Writing Meeting Minutes
What are the basic things that should be included when writing meeting minutes? Here are seven things that should be included.
- Date and time of the meeting.
- Names of the participants.
- Purpose of the meeting.
- Agenda of the meeting and topics discussed.
- Action Points.
- Next meeting date, time and venue.
- Documents to be included (if any).
1. Date and time of the meeting
This first item seems like a no-brainer but it’s really worth a mention because of its importance. Before you start writing a meeting minute, you must first write the date, time and venue of the meeting. This will enable the members and admins of the organization to be able to look back and understand when a meeting was held, the decisions taken, the action points, what has been accomplished. More so, the date will also help to appreciate what is outstanding with respect to the agreed deadline.
2. Names of the participants
The next item to document in the minute are the names of all the participants present. You may also pen down the names of other members of the board or committee who were absent.
At the beginning of a meeting, there is usually a time given for the reading, acceptance or amendment of previous meeting minutes. When that is done, you can look at the attendance of the last meeting to get an idea of the attendee list.
But if you already have the list of the attendees, you can check them off as they enter the meeting hall. Otherwise, let the attendees introduce themselves before the start of the meeting.
3. Purpose of the meeting
The purpose of the meeting has to do with the reason why the meeting was scheduled. And as you can tell, this item is very important. The reason for the meeting must be clearly stated. You can as well include the issue(s) the meeting was scheduled to sort or whatever is intended to be achieved through the meeting.
If the purpose of the meeting is clearly stated, it is going to help those who could not make it to the meeting. They could get an idea of why the meeting was held.
4. Agenda of the meeting and topics discussed
The agenda of the meeting is a list of the items to be discussed in the meeting. In order to make recording easier and more comprehensive, you can use the items on the agenda to form a kind of outline. That way, each agenda can easily form a section of the meeting minute. So that when each agenda is discussed, you can record the notes, outcomes or major decisions taken on the agenda.
Furthermore, if you are the secretary of the group, committee or board, it is your responsibility to send the agenda of the meeting to the participants before the meeting. So that everyone is aware of what is to be discussed and come ready with their contributions.
5. Action Points
One of the essential qualities of a good and productive meeting is that it ends with action points. These are specific actions that must be taken either to correct a wrong or to boost effectiveness and productivity.
Truly speaking, you may not be able to capture everything that is said. However, you must endeavor to record actions intended for major decisions; challenges identified and the solutions recommended.
In recording the action points of a meeting, you must capture the individuals assigned with various responsibilities with to the decisions, challenges and recommendations. That way, the group members would be able to hold each other responsible. More so, they would be able to know where and how to support each other in getting the tasks done.
6. Next meeting date, time and venue
If the meeting was held with regards to a project or a matter that requires various stages to be completed, there may be need for other meetings. In this case, it is very important that members of the group know when and where the next meeting is scheduled. Talking about where the meeting would be held, member should be made to know whether the meeting would online or physical.
With this knowledge, members would have an idea of how much time they have to complete the tasks given them in the concluding meeting. So they can prioritize their tasks and manage time well.
7. Documents to be included (if any)
In getting your meeting minutes ready, you need to consider if there are other supplementary documents that need to be attached to the minutes. Were some documents used or referenced during the meeting? Would they be useful to the members, possibly in the next meeting? If the answer the answer is YES, then you must attach the document(s) to the meeting minutes before sending it out.
Steps Involved in Writing a Meeting Minutes
Having outlined and described the items that should be included when writing a meeting minute, it’s time to examine the steps involved in writing. Here are the steps.
- Record taking.
- Minutes writing or transcribing.
- Distributing or sharing of meeting minutes.
- Filing or storage of minutes for future reference.
Pre-planning a meeting makes it very much easy to write effective meeting minute. However, for there to be good planning prior to the meeting, the chairperson and the secretary (or minute taker) need to work together. They need to ensure that the agenda of the meeting are well thought out. When that is the case, note taking become pretty easy.
Like I pointed out above, the agenda may be used to form an outline or a template for the meeting minute. This will make it easy to jot down notes, decisions and recommendations under each item.
2. Record taking
Record taking is done in the course of the meeting. That is when to jot down things as quickly as possible. Things to record include
- date, time and venue of the meeting.
- names of participants present and those absent.
- Amendments or acceptance of previous meeting’s minutes.
- deliberations and decisions taken about each agenda.
- Motions moved. Who moved the motion. Who seconded or rejected it.
- Matters to be carried over to the next meeting.
- Date, time and venue of the next meeting.
Tools For Recording the Minute of Meetings:
Here are some tools that your organization will likely find helpful for recording meeting minutes. You can check them out.
3. Minutes Writing or Transcribing
This is a task to be done once the meeting is over. It involves pulling together your notes and writing the meeting minute.
It is very important that you write the minute as soon as the meeting is over i.e. when everything is still fresh on your mind. Do it immediately and don’t postpone it.
Review your outlines. Clarify points raised with additional notes. Also check to ensure all decisions, actions and motions are clearly noted.
More things to observe or bear in mind while writing the meeting minute.
- Edit your jottings as much as possible. Ensure brevity and clarity so that the final meeting minutes is easy to read.
- Be objective in your writing.
- Ensure that your tenses are uniform throughout the writing.
- Avoid mentioning names except to record motions and seconds; and maybe those who took the opening and closing prayers.
- Don’t fall into the temptation of writing your personal observations. The meeting minute must be objective and fact-based.
- I talked about including documents if there is need. Where there is need, attach the necessary the documents and indicate where the information can be found. This is more acceptable than trying to summarize the document for members.
4. Distributing or Sharing of Meeting Minutes
The meeting minutes requires approval before sharing. So you have to pass it through the Chair for review. The Chair will revise and/ or approve the minutes for circulation. Note that until this is done, what you have is not an official record of the meeting.
However, for some groups, committees or boards, the meeting minutes will be formally approved at the beginning of the next meeting.
Now, as the secretary or the official minute-taker of your organization, your responsibility may also include dissemination of the minutes to participants. Albeit, the method you will adopt for this will depend on tools you and your organization use. If yours is an analogue-based organization, you can share the minutes on paper.
But if the organization has gone digital, you can share the meeting minutes online. You can as well share in the cloud if your organization has a cloud management system.
5. Filing or Storage of Minutes for Future Reference
Filing and storing of meeting minutes is a very important practice. Once the minute has been reviewed, amended and approved, you will need to revise it. After the revision, the minutes should be stored for future references.
Meeting minutes can be stored online (e.g. Google drive) and also stored in external hard drive. Organizations can also go an extra mile to store theirs in hard copies by filing and keeping with the admin.
Meeting Minutes Samples and Templates
In this article, I have been able to show you what meeting minutes is all about. I’ve told you why it needs to be written and how to write it. You can see that with the information given here, writing a meeting minutes is not stressful. At the end of the day, meeting minutes serve to make the life of the group, committee or board less stressful. Yes, because they would be able to keep track of their deliberations and decisions as they progress.
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