How To Take Meeting Minutes: a Complete Guide With Examples
Meeting minutes are an important resource in many workplace settings. Recording the details of a meeting can help team members who may have been absent or need to reference a previously discussed topic. It takes some training to learn how to take minutes during a meeting and format them professionally. Some jobs may emphasise this skill more than others, such as executive assistants or administrative professionals.
In this article, we define meeting minutes with examples, explain why they are important and provide some tips on how to write meeting minutes.
What are meeting minutes?
Meeting minutes are notes taken during a company meeting. These notes serve as a record of the decisions made, actions planned and steps taken during the meeting. Typically, an attendee takes meeting notes during a meeting and types those in an easy-to-read format after the meeting. Then the attendee sends the meeting minutes to a senior leader for approval. Once approved, the meeting minutes can be distributed to others and filed away.
Meeting minutes dictate the actions that take place during the meeting, including assigned projects, delegated work and other important workplace decisions. This also helps employees who attended the meeting remember important discussion topics.
What to include in meeting minutes
When writing meeting minutes, your primary goal is to document all important details that might be useful for future reference. Here are some essential elements you might see included in your meeting minutes:
The meeting agenda
First and last names of attendees
The date and time of the meeting
Any formal announcements and/or important decisions made
Details of attendance, including who joined late or left early
Projects assigned, who's responsible for them and the deadlines
Any corrections of previous meeting minutes
Voting outcomes, if applicable
Details about the next meeting date and time
Importance of meeting minutes
Meeting minutes can provide a record of important discussion topics within meetings. Here are some reasons meeting notes are important:
Helps keep track of the team's progress
Meeting minutes can be a vital tool for keeping tabs on the progress of each team member and their schedules. It serves as a map for your team towards accomplishing each task or goal. It can also be a helpful review tool, to see how far you've come as a team and review important votes or milestones at later dates.
Acts as a reminder
You and your team can forget what you have discussed, agreed upon or decided in your last meeting. With meeting minutes, you can easily check back on those at a later time. Meeting minutes can also help you remember the date and time of your next meeting.
Acts as a reference for absentees
Meeting summaries can be helpful tools for bringing absentees up to date with the organisation's proceedings. A simple follow-up email with the minutes attached can ensure that no one gets left behind in pursuing company goals.
Meeting minutes can work as a single source of truth for the entire team. With each member aware of their responsibilities, accomplishing goals and meeting deadlines becomes easier. The document helps remove unnecessary information and streamlines the overall functioning of the team. It also helps your team save time on planning because they don't have to revisit previously discussed topics.
Serves as corporate defence
As companies that expand and diversify, they may face some litigations and civil suits. Meeting minutes can serve as a solid record of intent in such cases, allowing the authorities concerned to pinpoint all relevant details and proceedings. Usually, the members of the meetings vote to approve the minutes before their next meeting. This can ensure minutes are accurate if they're needed later for evidence.
How to take meeting minutes
Follow these steps to take meeting minutes:
1. Prepare a template
To ensure you are ready for the meeting, make a template with all the relevant information filled out before the meeting starts. Make sure the template has placeholders for specific meeting items and information. It can be a good idea to reach the meeting venue early and fill out the template as much as possible before the meeting begins.
Discuss the main agenda of the meeting beforehand with the meeting leader and, if possible, go through some previous records to build a suitable template. Once you know what to include in the meeting minutes, you can create your format and simply fill it in during the event.
Here are some common placeholders used in meeting minutes:
Name of the organisation
Purpose of the meeting
Start and end times
Date and location
List of attendees and absentees
Space for important information, such as decisions made and responsibilities delegated
Space for signatures
An agenda (consult the meeting leader if in doubt)
2. Take notes during the meeting.
When the meeting starts, you can simply begin taking notes. You should note only the important factors of the meeting. Consider passing around an attendance sheet or check off individuals as they arrive. Record motions passed and make immediate notes to ensure accuracy. Be sure to ask for clarification when required. Note taking should not interfere with the meeting, but for important decisions or discussions, it's important to get the details right. Groups can sometimes lose focus, but it is your responsibility to ensure they resolve each topic before proceeding.
If you are struggling to keep up, you can switch to noting decisions, assignments and actions rather than quoting verbatim. Another option is recording the whole dialogue. Use shorthand or abbreviations to write your notes quickly. Use initials to identify meeting participants or an acronym to represent an important project. With time, you'll likely develop your own form of shorthand that you can easily translate to full writing for others to view.
3. Transcribe the meeting minutes.
Transcribe the complete document while things are fresh in your mind. The minutes can serve as a reminder of the commitments made in the meeting, so meeting participants often want details clearly stated. Review the template and add or subtract sub-headings and notes wherever required. Verify that you have noted all the key points clearly and correctly. Note any deadlines, events or other important dates mentioned in the meeting. Try to detail your report sufficiently to ensure you're providing valuable context. For top-level management meetings, try including a brief description of each action taken and the rationale behind it.
If a team actively debated a particular motion, mention the major arguments given in favour of and against the motions, ensuring brevity and clarity. If your company requires it, you may also need to note the voting details. The final document should be impartial, in a single tense, devoid of personal observations and fact-based. It may contain links to other documents in the meeting as an appendix, if appropriate, as well.
Read more: How To Use Deductive Reasoning
4. Distribute and share meeting minutes.
Have the meeting chair or leader review your minutes and make respective revisions and/or corrections prior to circulating the meeting minutes. The document needs to be officiated as a record of the meeting. As the official minutes-taker, your role often also includes the dissemination of the minutes.
Once complete, you typically type the minutes into an official record, receive approval from present leadership and, finally, forward your document to colleagues who require it.
5. File and store meeting minutes.
Finally, be sure to label and file your meeting minutes so you can easily retrieve them later. Consider creating and maintaining a clearly labelled digital or print folder. This can help you easily refer to the minutes at a later date.
Meeting minutes example
To see how the proper format for meeting minutes looks and get an idea of what type of content you should include, it can help to look at an example. The following minutes represent a typical meeting of an organisation's board members. Note the formatting of the minutes so that the information is easy to scan for important details.
DT LABS Pvt. Ltd.
*Board of Directors Meeting
Date: Thursday, June 11, 2020
Time: 3:00 p.m.
Location: DT Corp Headquarters, New Delhi
Type: Monthly meeting
Vinod Kumar, President
Amit Singh, Vice President
Anand Joshi, Treasurer
Call to order at 3:05 p.m. by President.
May 2021 meeting minutes approved.
1. The financial report provided by Vice President.
2. Company tax return has been completed and filed. An annual review of the organisation's accounting procedures to be completed by July 2020.
3. Trends from the past year's finances include an increased cash flow because of vendor changes enacted in 2019.
4. Motion to accept financial statements – seconded and passed.
5. Development Committee report provided by Treasurer.
6. Company search for a second business location has not turned up any promising prospects yet. The board is using the services of a Goa-based commercial real estate agent to help locate a property that meets the organisation's needs, but the development committee recommends extending the search to include properties in Karnataka.
7. Motion to expand property search – seconded and passed.
New Business and Announcements:
1. Fundraising efforts have been falling short of expected targets so far this year. Members are asked to tap their networks for potential fundraising resources and report back at the next meeting.
2. The annual organisation retreat will take place on July 26, 2021.
3. The next monthly Board of Directors meeting is scheduled for Thursday, July 1, 2021.*
Meeting adjourned at 4:35 p.m.*
Authorised Signatories --/--
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