Writing Effective Meeting Minutes

Format and style of meeting record

The format, style and content required for Meeting Minutes will vary depending on the organisation, its formality, size and culture. This is a general guide and does not encompass fulfilment of statutory requirements, such as the minutes required for a public company Annual General Meeting, but is a guide for less formal meetings.

gIf you are asked to take Minutes at a meeting you are effectively making a record for the meeting Chair, so ask them what they expect you to record on their behalf. They may have a standard format or even a form for you to use. You should have a copy of the Meeting Agenda so that you can reflect the numbering and topic titles the Chair has used in the agenda.

There are tools available that create a document that works as an Agenda and forms the basis of the Minutes. If you use Google Calendar to arrange the meeting, there is an Agenda document available there, which can be used as a basis for the minutes which can then be shared with the attendees.
Why are minutes taken?

There are a number of reasons for minutes to be taken.

  • They are a record of what happened at a meeting (This can have implications for public companies for fulfilment of statutory requirements)
  • They are a record of decisions made, votes taken, actions agreed, as well as who has responsibility for the action.
  • They are a record of who attended the meeting
  • They may act as a point of information for people who are unable to attend a meeting.
  • They may act as a reminder for people who did attend the meeting.
  • They may be read at the next meeting if it is one of a series, such as a regular weekly meeting. This allows each of the points covered at the last meeting to be revisited and perhaps moved along.
  • The action points can act as stimulus for tasks to be completed or followed up when the Minutes are circulated.

What should the minutes record?

  1. First of all, the title of the meeting and its date, e.g.
    Minutes of ABC Project Meeting Friday 12 February 2016
  2. Who is present at the meeting and in what capacity? If an attendee is only present for part of the meeting this should also be recorded. So for example
    Present Tom Smith Chair
    Abdul Ahmed Secretary
    Mohammed Kimora
    Valerie Jones
    Jim Mbale (part)
    David Salam
  3. The minutes should then record apologies sent from those unable to attend., and any absentees
  4. Notes of corrections needed to previous Meeting Minutes
  5. A record of the outcome of the discussion on each agenda item, together with details of a vote if relevant, next steps, actions to be taken, and by whom and when . This is not a record of what was said, but a summary of the outcome of the discussion of each agenda point
  6. A record of any Motions put to the meeting , whether they are accepted or rejected
  7. A note of any Items to be held over for the next meeting. (this may be for time reasons, lack of required information , absence of the main person concerned)
  8. Any new business, not on the agenda. Minutes for each of these items to be treated as point 5 above.
  9. Date and time of the next meeting