How To Create Meeting Minutes

Two people making a presentation in meeting.

Understanding and Creating Meeting Minutes

Minutes are the official record of a meeting. Clear, and to the point, they are a concise summary of all essential discussions.

Writing meeting minutes is not the same as taking notes. Though it’s crucial to acknowledge critical details, not everything that transpires needs to be documented. Therefore, to be able to draft meeting minutes, you have to first understand what they are.

This article chronicles the specific process of how to create meeting minutes. It covers all you need to know from start to finish and will even get you started with a few templates that’ll turn you into a professional in no time.

Creating Meeting Minutes

There are many elements involved in meeting minutes. From initial planning to filing the finalized record, several significant factors come into play. Step-by-step, you’ll gain an understanding of what meeting minutes truly detail, the process of writing them, and tips on creating a quality draft with minimal effort.

What Are Meeting Minutes and Why Are They Important?

The word “minutes” can be a confusing term, especially if you’re new to the concept of recording information. However, when referring to meetings, it has nothing to do with a time designation. “Minutes” in this regard has the definition of “small” (mī-ˈnüt). Therefore, the phrase “meeting minutes” translates to “a small or short reporting of a meeting’s key aspects.”

Meeting minutes are the official recorded document of an established and formal gathering of specific individuals. Entities such as committees, management, organizations, clubs, and boards of directors fall into this category.

Minute taking is essential for several reasons:

  • Reminders of what went on and what’s to come for the next meeting
  • Organization and guidance for structured operations
  • Time-saving efficiency that provides streamlined knowledge of duties
  • Reference material for those who weren’t in attendance
  • Evidence and a possible defense regarding any litigation or worst-case scenarios

Why Take Meeting Minutes?

The typical meeting is designed for many beneficial purposes:

  1. It creates a sense of unity and teamwork. Bringing people together to fluidly perform and creates a more positive mindset and sense of appreciation.
  2. Ideas are shared and discussed, boosting morale by allowing everyone to contribute to operations. Brainstorming and development unfold while fine-tuning organizational processes.
  3. Meetings get everyone on the same page and constantly seek out ways to improve the organization.

Therefore, it is critical that you officially document the proceedings to maintain a precise record of events. Information and communication are the ever-evolving building blocks of any successful business or association. Meeting minutes establish this foundation.

Meeting Minutes vs. Notes

Meeting minutes aren’t the same as meeting notes. Granted, different organizations allow a certain amount of leeway for minutes formats. Still, generally speaking, there are a few key characteristics that you should be following when it comes to differentiating minutes and notes:

  • Less is more: Meeting minutes are more of a concise record than notes. They do not entail every detail discussed.
  • A matter of formality: Minutes are a formal and official summary of the meeting’s agenda or outline. Notes often constitute informal documentation for personal use.
  • Group preference: If the meeting is a casual gathering between a few people, minutes are not necessary. Informal group discussions don’t require anything more than note-taking. It all depends on the situation, purpose, and who is in attendance.
  • Attendance variables: Minutes should be a part of any meeting where outside sources are present. For example, in a casual environment that meets weekly for an informal discussion not involving minutes, you should catalog the minutes if a third party attends.
  • Who’s who: Anyone can take notes during a meeting. Regarding minutes, there is typically one person in charge of documenting what’s needed.

What Should Minutes of a Meeting Look Like?

Meeting minutes range in presentation style depending on your preferences and needs. They are documents with fixed structures that should be kept relatively simple and basic. Since they are the only official permanent record of a meeting, they need to hold true to the same format for easy reference and consistency.

The ideal goal of how to create meeting minutes is a minimal effort with maximum comprehension. They should be both easy for you to write and easy for attendees to read. Ideally, you want to ensure they follow a specific and fluent format.

What to Include

Despite the varying nature of meeting minutes, there are specific crucial points that you should include in every draft:

  • The meeting group’s title
  • Time (start and finish), date, and location
  • An attendance roster
  • Designated agenda
  • Basic summaries of each topic
  • All votes in an “Action: Motion, second, carried/failed” format
  • Information regarding the next meeting

What to Avoid

Although everyone involved won’t necessarily see them, you need to remember that minutes are still considered public information. Therefore, certain aspects should remain private and not be included in minutes:

  • Direct quotes
  • Detailed discussions
  • Speculation or opinions
  • Named individuals, unless for an exceptional circumstance
  • Off-track topics unrelated to the agenda

Who Takes Meeting Minutes?

Simply stated, the minute taker, or minutes taker, is the person assigned to take meeting minutes. However, it can get a bit more involved, depending on the situation. Different types of meetings have various designations for who is responsible for documenting the proceedings.

For example, the secretary is in charge of meeting minutes for a board of directors or any other group with officers. Sometimes, a business authorizes a company secretary for this position. Other titles include note-taker, scribe, registrar, and reporter.

Terminology aside, these roles are essentially the same across the board. The official duty is to record meeting minutes. This person may be an active participant in the meeting or an outside source hired exclusively to take minutes. Active participants can be elected to or volunteer for the position, depending on how a body operates.

As you’re the designated person to fill this role, it’s important to remember that you’ve been selected to report the facts. Don’t let your personal opinion lean toward one side or another. This slant can be intentional or subconsciously accidental. Regardless, you must report from a neutral standpoint. Make sure to periodically review your language when writing so you can keep any opinionated wording in check.

Suggestions for Taking Meeting Minutes

The best way for you to take meeting minutes is to head into the situation fully prepared. There are a few steps you can follow to maximize your output while still keeping things simple.

Pre-Planning an Outline

Going into the meeting with an agenda-based template or outline is half the battle. This allows ease of documentation as the meeting progresses. In other words, you just plug in the information as it happens.

Be the First to Arrive

Make sure you’re ahead of the curve and be ready to go before the meeting begins. Check off people as they come in or pass around an attendance roster. Add any newcomers to the list, and get contact and other pertinent information from them before the meeting’s call to order.

Follow Along

Write down everything as it happens. Don’t procrastinate. If you’re confused about something or missed a part, ask for it to be repeated.

Don’t Overdo It

When you try to capture everything, you’ll end up missing the most important things. Since meeting minutes are not the same as notes, there’s no reason to document extensive details. Stick to the basics.

Record Everything

If you feel you cannot keep up with what’s going on, there’s always the option to record the meeting audibly. It’s essential to notify those in attendance that the meeting is being recorded. However, the recording shouldn’t be used as a transcript. It’s merely a source of reference and must be destroyed afterward, as the minutes will be the only official record of the meeting.

How Are Meeting Minutes Approved?

After the meeting concludes, it’s time to prepare the draft. Minutes don’t become official until they’re approved at the next meeting. Historically, minutes were read at the onset of this meeting. However, technology comes into play in today’s world, and you can simply email the draft to group members. So instead of taking the time to read them aloud at the next meeting, those in attendance can already come in prepared. Either way, approval takes place in the same way:

  • A chair or director is the one who makes a motion to approve. If the consent is unanimous, then it is officially announced, and approval goes on the record.
  • If certain corrections are necessary, then they must be unanimously approved. Once this occurs, then you need to correct the master copy of the draft.
  • Anyone can object an approval. However, to do so, the individual is required to have a correction. Without it, the objection is not allowed.
  • If a correction is disputed, a body should already have an amendment rule to handle the situation. This is an established protocol unique to the group.
  • A committee or board will assume responsibility in an annual convention where regular meetings don’t occur. They’ll follow this same approval process shortly after the meeting has concluded.

Who Signs Meeting Minutes?

The official handler of meeting minute signatures varies depending on the organization. The minute taker, chair, or director are the leading figures involved with certification. If the designated person is not available, rules already in place that are exclusive to the group should determine a hierarchy of authorization to sign.

Methods of signing can slightly differ according to the group and its established protocol. However, typically you should initial each page, with the whole document being dated, signed, and sealed (physically or electronically).

How to Distribute and Store Meeting Minutes

Once everything is finalized, distribution is up to the group. It is not required to circulate additional copies of the sealed minutes, but some prefer this method. Usually, meeting minutes are available upon request to the members.

Recently, cloud-based storage has become the premier method of holding minutes for a lot of organizations. This cuts out the middle man and allows all vested parties constant access to information. Plus, in the event of a problematic or troublesome member, this technology has the advantage of regulating permissions. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea for you to keep the original copy in paper form as a matter of record and security.

Who Can See Committee Meeting Minutes?

All members are permitted to see minutes as long as part of the specific group approved the minutes. Nevertheless, this must be done via a “reasonable” request if the minutes are not readily accessible to members. “Reasonable” is a subjective term and left up to the group to decide, but it can involve a certain time frame to fulfill the request or the request being done without harassing behavior.

Allowing non-members to see minutes is acceptable under certain circumstances. For instance, you may distribute minutes to a bank to show that a change in signature authorization has met approval. Still, attendees must always vote on special circumstances.

Sample Email for Meeting Minutes

To save yourself time and effort during the meeting, the most convenient way to distribute minutes is ahead of time via email. All it takes is a basic informative summary of the draft.

Here’s a concise email template that demonstrates a simple introduction format that will keep everything neat and easy to follow.


Subject: Meeting Recap [Date]

Hello,

[Make sure to thank everyone for attending the meeting and express your excitement for discussed items and accomplished goals.]

[The first couple of sentences need to cover the discussion topics from the meeting. If you want, you can highlight projects completed, items achieved, or important announcements. If there are too many discussed items that you want to cover, it’s a good idea to list them in bullet points]:

  • [First topic of discussion with details]
  • [Second topic of discussion with details]
  • [Third topic of discussion with details]

[The following sentences should cover action times to be completed along with any plans or strategies that the attendees agreed on. You can use bullet points to list action items, deadlines, and people assigned]:

  • [First action item, deadline, and the appointed person]
  • [Second action item, deadline, and the appointed person]
  • [Third action item, deadline, and the appointed person]

[Don’t forget to mention the date of the next meeting]

Sincerely,

[Name]


Sample Meeting Minutes Template

With all of the information out there, which route you should take when drafting meeting minutes can be a bit perplexing. There are many helpful resources, but you need to know where to begin and what style best suits your particular needs.

Following the same fluid format as the email template, this meeting minutes template is a great example. It provides a clear way to summarize everything necessary for formal draft documentation. Furthermore, it shows how to create meeting minutes in an organized and efficient manner.

[Company name]

[Meeting or project name]

[Date] [Time] [Location or platform]

Attendees

[List attendees and absentees, if any.]

Agenda Items

[Cover agenda items from the previous meetings (if any) and list any new agenda items.]

Last Meeting Follow-Up

  • Item 1
  • Item 2
  • Item 3

New Discussion Items

  • Item 1
  • Item 2
  • Item 3

Discussion

[Summarize the key discussion points for each agenda item, state the outcome, decisions made, conclusions, and any action items along with their status, individuals or teams they were assigned to, and deadlines if needed.]

Notes

[Make sure to note any additional items raised during the meeting.]

Adjournment and Closing Remarks

[Mention when the meeting was adjourned, by whom, and summarize the closing remarks (if any).]

Next Meeting

[List the time, date, and location or platform of the next meeting.]

Minutes submitted by [Name].

Minutes approved by [Name].


Summary and Conclusion

An official record of a meeting, minutes are a streamlined synopsis. Documented and put together by a minute taker, they are an abridged version of meeting notes, devoid of personal opinion.

Meeting minutes serve many purposes. They are a source of reference and guidance while providing organization and efficiency. To achieve this, they should adhere to a standard template protocol to create uniformity and clarity. Information requirements focus on key meeting elements such as agendas, votes, attendance, and dates.

Drafting meeting minutes is a skill that is not only helpful but potentially marketable. By investing the time and dedication to learning it now, you’ll set yourself on the path to creating practical and efficient documents.

Meeting minutes lay the groundwork for many businesses and associations. By following the steps and points in this article, you’ll instantly become a key player in contributing to the success of your organization. All you need is a little preparation, a standardized structure, and familiarity with the process.

Find what methods work best for you, and in no time, creating meeting minutes will become second nature, and you will be able to accomplish your writing with little effort.

Resources

There are a few resources you can use that can make taking meeting minutes easier and save you time. Have a look at the categories below for resources you can review.

Images

You may want to spice up your meeting agenda with images. First, however, you want to make sure you have the licensing or permission to use the image.

Even though your minutes are an internal document, it is binding. Therefore, you don’t want to use any image without the proper license or permission.

See the latest Google search results for Royalty-free Meeting Minutes.

Apps and Software

If you have many meetings taking place, then you may want to consider looking at software, whether for your phone or computer. For example, meeting software can help you format your meeting correctly and save you time.

See the latest search results on Google for Software and Apps to create minute meetings.

Templates

Templates can save you time and eliminate inaccuracy in the document. There are many templates you can download on the web that you can review and download. You’ll want to update the template with your organization’s information and add anything relevant while removing irrelevant items in the document.

See the following Google search results for templates to review

Meeting Minutes and Agenda Templates

Meeting Minutes Format Templates

Meeting Minutes Excel Templates

Meeting Minutes Summary Templates

Voice to Text

A decent voice-to-text app will help you transcribe your meeting. Naturally, you will still need to copy-paste and make adjustments because meeting minutes aren’t meant to be word for word. You can test a voice-to-text app to determine if something like this is effective for your purposes.

See the latest Google search results for Voice to Text Apps and Software.