Meeting minutes are a crucial part of the meeting process. Find out how to create effective meeting minutes with our guide to the do's and don'ts of meeting minutes.
Meeting minutes keep a historical record of the main discussion points of a meeting, including the decisions made. They should be written in a way such that anyone who didn’t attend the meeting can read them and have knowledge of all the important information from that meeting. Meeting minutes serve as proof of what occurred in a meeting and can be used when examining why a decision was made.
Meeting minutes can be written for any type of meeting, whether it's for the board, executive, or leadership team, or just your regular weekly staff meeting. Which meetings you decide to take minutes for depends on your organisation and industry regulations. However, the minutes of board meetings must be taken and kept for at least 10 years, according to The Companies Act (2006), and failure to do so is a criminal offence.
So, we know that taking effective meeting minutes is crucial for keeping an accurate record of past meetings, but how do we take effective meeting minutes? Here at Convene, we have decided to give you our top Do’s and Don’ts for writing meeting minutes...
Meeting Minutes Do’s
Listed below are our top Do's for creating meeting minutes. Follow these tips and you will be on your way to taking effective meeting minutes.
- Use the meeting agenda as the template.
Using the agenda as a template is a great way to structure your meeting minutes. Meeting notes should be made for each agenda item. Having an effective agenda will ensure consistency across all meeting minutes.
- Include the date, time and venue of the meeting.
First thing is getting the basics in order. You should record the date, time, and venue of the meeting.
- Register of all the attendees.
Record all of the meeting attendees, including the minutes taker. Also remember to record the participants who were unable to attend.
- Record any decisions, votes, or approvals.
Be sure to keep a record of the outcomes of any decisions, votes, and approvals for future reference. That way, if there are any disagreements in the future about a decision, you can easily pinpoint when and why the decision was made.
- Track action items including due date.
The actions from the meeting should be tracked with the due dates. It is also worth recording any actions that were carried over from the previous meeting.
- Get the draft meeting minutes checked by the chair.
Once the draft meeting minutes are written up, share them with the chair before publishing. There may be things not included that they want included in the final version.
- Store the meeting minutes digitally.
Archiving meeting minutes electronically has multiple benefits. Firstly, it takes up less space than physical copies. Secondly, electronic archiving is easier to manage. The ability to search through hundreds of past meeting minutes can save you significant labour hours and the cost that goes with it. Furthermore, storing documents on the cloud is is safer than physical copies.
- Keep the meeting minutes concise.
The point of keeping meeting minutes is the ability to look back and understand the main discussion points and outcomes of the meeting. When taking meeting minutes be concise. Summarise the main points of the meeting as well as any outcomes to decisions.
- Record amendments to previous meeting minutes.
Include any amendments and corrections made to the previous meeting minutes.
Meeting Minutes Don’ts
Listed below are our top Don'ts for creating meeting minutes. Follow these tips and you'll be on your way to taking effective meeting minutes.
- Don’t share the meeting minutes via email or paper.
Sharing your meeting minutes via email or on loose paper is a security risk - once shared you have no control over who this information is forwarded onto. We advise you to store, and share meeting minutes on a secure board portal platform.
- Don’t handwrite the meeting minutes.
Firstly, if you're handwriting your meeting minutes that means your using paper. Paper copies of minutes can be lost (and found by the wrong person) or destroyed. That's why meeting minutes should be kept digitally. Furthermore, handwritten meeting minutes may not be readable by all necessary parties due to poor handwriting.
- Don’t include direct quotes or debates.
Meeting minutes should be concise. Just include the facts, summarise the main points and the outcomes of any decisions.
- Don’t wait long before writing.
You should write your meeting minutes straight away, while the meeting is still fresh in your mind. If you wait too long, you may forget some key information from the meeting. Best practice is to take meeting notes during the meeting, and then to write up the draft minutes on the same day, before sharing with the chair.
- Don't switch tenses throughout.
Consistency is important. Stick to one tense when writing your meeting minutes. We advise you to use past tense, however you can choose to use present tense if you prefer. Just stay consistent!
- Don't use personal judgements.
Try to stay objective when writing your meeting minutes. This means no personal opinions or comments about the meeting. You should keep a neutral tone throughout the meeting minutes.
To summarise, meeting minutes are a vital part of your meeting process, from a governance and regulatory perspective. It's essential to have consistent and effective meeting minutes. If you follow these do's and don'ts, you'll be well on your way to creating good quality meeting minutes.
We understand it's a lot to take in. Using a board portal, such as Convene, with a minute taking feature will help you to streamline the whole minute taking process and can save you time, money, and effort.