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What are Meeting Minutes?
Minutes, protocols or notes are a written transcript of what took place or was discussed during a meeting or hearing. Often, notes are taken during the meeting by a designated note taker or secretary who proofreads and prepares the final meeting minutes after the meeting. Here you can find some tips and tricks to take more efficient meeting minutes.
Why are Minutes Important?
Meeting minutes are essential for organizations to convert meetings into action plans and to provide a transparent decision-making process. Many organizations have to meet regulatory compliance by recording and archiving minutes in order to conduct business in a transparent and accountable manner. Minutes should contain:
- Decisions made (votes, motions etc.)
- Discussions that lead to the decision (Discussion Minutes Format)
- Action items and status thereof
Tip Proper meeting minutes and electronic archiving will ensure you get more out of your meetings.
Meeting Minutes Formats
When setting up your infrastructure for minutes, you need to determine how to archive your records, which minutes formats are suitable for your organization, how to take minutes and how to archive your records. You may have to use different meeting minutes formats depending on whether you are capturing notes for board meetings or committee meetings. There are three different minutes formats:
- Action minutes
- Discussion minutes
- Verbatim minutes
Tip Read more about Minutes Formats
How to Create Meeting Minutes
If you are chosen as the minute taker, it is important to prepare and organize yourself well before the meeting. You need to ask the chair what is expected of your role during the meeting. You need to establish which minutes format to use and if you will be dealing with motions, action items or voting. You may have to use Robert’s Rules of Order for board meetings, public hearings etc. Effective record taking can be broken into the following four steps:
Tip Read more about how to take minutes
Minutes Approval Process
Most meetings are executed in a democratic setting where attendees share decision-making and accountability. Therefore, minutes should be approved, which typically happens in the beginning of the following meeting.
Sometimes the chair, secretary or note taker can amend the records from the meeting to clarify and elaborate. However, this could be risky as perceptions of a conversation often vary by stakeholders. It is better during the meeting to have the note taker or chair summarize the discussions and note the consensus of the main points. The note taker could choose to show the records as they are being taken live on a projector or screen unless the meeting is a public hearing, board meeting, congress meeting etc., where it would not be appropriate. If you are the note taker, using a Word document with a proper minutes format or using a minutes software program helps when displaying the capturing of notes live. If you are editing the minutes, it should be done shortly after the meeting, while attendees can recall what took place.
It is beneficial to distribute the minutes to the attendees shortly after the meeting to ensure that actions are carried out in due time.
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