How to Create Meeting Minutes

Meeting minutes are meant to capture an accurate and tangible record of what took place in a meeting. Minutes serve as a reference for participants and other members that could not attend of decisions made, actions taken and voting results. Minutes turn discussions into concrete action plans and create a transparency of how business is conducted. They also show outcomes that could impact other projects throughout the business. Therefore, it is important to set yourself up for effective minutes taking:

How to take minutes in 3 steps:

Preparation

Get Organized

Start by setting up a clear labelling system for archiving your agenda, attachments and minutes. This will help participants and stakeholders find relevant information at a later stage. For instance:

AG-CM-180117 (Agenda, Committee, Date)
AG-BM-200117 (Agenda, Board Meeting, Date)
MIN_CM_200517 (Minutes, Committee, Date)
MIN_BM_210517 (Minutes, Board meeting, Date)

  You may have to follow an existing internal archiving system or document management system.

Select a format for the minutes

Talk to the chair or co-organizers about the degree of formality of the meeting and the expected outcome. In some meetings, such as board meetings, you will be dealing with motions, voting etc. You should ask the chair for names of who are making motions, and seconding etc. You need to know if you will be referring to Robert’s Rules and/or which meeting format to follow. Most commonly used is the discussion minutes format.

Create an Agenda

The minutes format required and selected should be used to create a concise agenda. The agenda will provide an outline for enabling you to capture minutes more quickly during the meeting.

  •   The minutes format required and selected should be used to create a concise agenda. The agenda will provide an outline for enabling you to capture minutes more quickly during the meeting
  •   You could consider parked items and motions from previous meetings as agenda items
  •   Attach relevant files and documents for participants to review prior to the meeting
  •   The agenda should be decision-orientated
  •   Get updates on action items before the meeting

Most of the minutes software programs contain an agenda module that make it easy to create the agenda, but Word templates can work also. Some tools facilitate collaboration options for co-organizers and attendees depending on how much control you want to the agenda creation.

Take Minutes During the Meeting

Taking minutes during the meeting is a big responsibility and can be intimidating, however, at this point, you have created your agenda. Once the agenda is improved by the chair, you are good to go. Here are some tips for taking minutes:

  •   Start by taking attendance
  •   Focus on key points and decisions being made by the group and not individual comments. However, in informal business meetings it can be beneficial to record individual comments
  •   Take objective and professional minutes and try to be consistent in the layout of notes
  •   You are responsible for the notes, so ask for clarification or summarize aloud the decision made. The chair should summarize each topic’s decision to host the meeting properly
  •   In an informal meeting, you could show your minutes on a projector to make sure participants agree with the discussions and decisions
  •   Assign action items per the decisions being made
  •   Take notes of when the following meetings should take place.
how to create meeting minutes

Finalize, Distribute and Archive Minutes

Once the meeting has ended, it is important to get the minutes distributed to participants and members that could not attend in order to get decisions and actions items carried out:

  •   If you and the chair are editing minutes for clarification after the meeting, be very careful not to change key points of the discussion and decision
  •   If you must make changes, do it shortly after the meeting when conversations are still fresh in participant’s memory. Doing it a month later does not make sense
  •   If the minutes are not approved yet but you must distribute them, mark in the header of the minutes that they are “Unapproved” or a “Draft”
  •   Send out action items preferably using a software tool that allows you to track status. Consider using Outlook or minutes software
  •   Remember to archive your minutes because some minutes must be archived by law. Use a shared drive, document management system or an enterprise meeting management system such as MeetingBooster

  Learn more about how to take minutes