How to Take Minutes at a Board Meeting: Effective Tips for Beginners

How to Take Minutes at a Board Meeting Effective Tips for Beginners

Meeting minutes, or known as MOM (minutes of meeting), can be defined as the written record of everything that’s happened during a meeting. These help to keep track of the meeting’s actions and decisions to inform people who couldn’t attend the meeting about what happened so that they can revisit it and use it to make future decisions. 

Whether you’ve been asked to take notes for a company or have been appointed as secretary to the board of your organization, making meeting minutes doesn’t have to be an arduous task for you.

Before taking minutes of a board meeting, it’s essential to know the reasons behind to ensure you’re documenting the relevant actions.

Benefits of Taking Minutes of Board Meeting

Let’s explore the most important three benefits of recording effective notes. To get a firm grasp on how to take minutes on a board meeting you need to know these:

Once approved, board minutes can become a legal record of what actually occurred or discussed in the meeting. In a lawsuit, minutes can be subpoenaed, and in turn, board members could potentially hold liable. If votes are recorded incorrectly or if important details are missing, this could be a disastrous situation for its board members.

A well-organized board meeting minutes serve as a valid reference point for effective decision-making in future. These can act as a reminder of the meeting’s key points, next steps, who said what, and who is taking responsibility for what upcoming projects.

Potential sponsors looking to expand their philanthropic activities or other funding sources can access board meeting minutes which will help them to make decisions. Funders can use the board meeting minutes to determine how effective the board is. in leading the company toward its goals. In other words, this could be a very crucial determining factor in whether someone chooses to financially support your cause or not.

How to Take Minutes Effectively at a Board Meeting

As you can see, board meeting minutes can play an important role, not just for future reference by the board itself but also for legal purposes. Now, let’s dive into the best practices for creating well-organized, coherent board minutes.

Let me warn you not to be intimidated by the term “minutes” since it’s actually a little misleading. After all, your organization, board or committee doesn’t need or want a record of its meeting proceedings minute by minute! 

But it is vital to capture the essence of the meeting, including details like: 

  • discussions and decisions made by the board members 
  • what are the next steps for the future
  • tracking and identification of action items occurred in the meeting

The Important Steps To Follow

Also, minutes are a source of information for members who were unable to attend and an explicit record of the meeting for its participants. In some cases, board meeting minutes can act as a reference point.

These steps will help you to take minutes and apply it effectively:

  1. Pre-Planning the meeting minutes
  2. Tips that might help in note-taking
  3. The Process of minutes writing or transcribing
  4. Approval of meeting minutes
  5. Sharing or distributing and storage of meeting minutes

1. Pre-planning the meeting minutes:

A well-planned meeting helps ensure useful meeting minutes. If the secretary and the head or chair of the board work together to ensure the agenda and well-organized meeting, it makes minute taking much more comfortable. For example, depending on the meeting type and the tools you use, the minutes-taker could work with the chair of the board to create a document format that works as an agenda and minutes outline as well for the future reference.

Determining the meeting’s agenda or outline:

At the very least, it’s crucial to get a copy of the meeting agenda. Using it as an outline or guide for setting up your minutes of meeting format, taking notes, and preparing the minutes – with the order and numbering of items on the minutes of meeting matching those of the list.

Besides, the meeting notice or the agenda also provides information that will need to be included in the minutes, such as:

All the meeting attendees’ name, including guests or others

Handed out documents in the meeting or sent out with the agenda – digital or hard copies of handouts should be stored with the meeting minutes for future record.

These can also be shared with those who were unable to attend the meeting and others as determined by the meeting’s chair.

Clarifications:

If you take on a new role as minutes-taker or secretary, be sure to ask the chair of the board or committee what their expectations are of your role during the meeting. You should also know the type of detail he/she expects in the minutes. For example, if your board wants dealing with voting on issues, or motions be clear on whether you need to include names of those making motions, seconding, etc. 

Before you kick-off as a minute taker, it’s essential to understand the type of information you need to record at the meeting. As noted earlier, your company may have the required content and a specific ‘minutes of meeting’ format that you’ll need to follow. Generally, meeting minutes usually include the following:

meeting minutes sample
  1. Name of the organization
  2. Date and time of the meeting
  3. Names of the participants and those who are unable to attend
  4. Acceptance of amendments or corrections to previous meeting minutes
  5. Decisions made about each agenda item, such as:
  6. Actions taken or agreed to be taken
  7. Voting outcomes 
  8. Motions taken or rejected
  9. Items to be held over
  10. New business plans
  11. Next meeting date and time

You can also check out some Microsoft meeting minutes template if you want.

meeting minutes template

2. Tips and techniques that might help your note-taking:

Prepare a template or outline  

As we’ve discussed earlier, having an outline (or template) based on the agenda makes it easier for you to jot down notes, key points, decisions, etc. If you consider taking notes by hand, include space below each item on your outline, for your hand-written notes to make the minutes easy to read, then print these out and use this to capture minutes.

Check-off participants as they enter the room 

If you know the meeting participants, you can check them off as soon as they arrive, if not have folks introduce themselves at the beginning of the meeting or circulate an attendance list they can check-off themselves.

Record every key decisions

Record every notes in your outline right after the occurrence to make sure they are recorded precisely.

Ask for clarification if it’s necessary

 Like if your group moves on without making any decision or a certain conclusion, ask for clarification of the decision and/or next steps involved.

ABC (Always Be Clear and Concise) 

If you try to write down the conversation verbatim, you can not keep up. Though it may need to include high levels of detail for completeness, minutes should not become transcripts of the meeting. You must determine what issues are material and must be included, and what may safely be omitted. So, be sure to clearly write just the decisions, assignments, actions and make it as concise as possible.

Record it 

If you are concerned about being able to keep up with note-taking, consider recording the meeting. You can do it on your smartphone, recording device, etc. but be sure to let participants know they are being recorded. Perhaps you don’t need to use the recording to create a word-for-word transcript of the meeting, but the recording surely can come in handy if you need clarification.

3. The Process of Taking Minutes of Board Meeting

When the meeting is over, it’s time to pull together your notes and write down the minutes.

 Here are some steps you need to follow to be a successful minute-taker:

  • Try to write the minutes as short and concise as possible while everything is fresh in your mind.
  • Review your outline and if necessary, make corrections like add additional points or clarify newly raised ones. 
  • Also, check to ensure all decisions, action steps and motions are clearly noted.
  • Ensure you include sufficient detail to help to make future decisions.
  • We always recommend including a short description of each action taken for the Board of Director’s minutes in particular
  • If there was a lot of discussions and chatting before passing motion, write down the major arguments for and against 
  • Edit to ensure clarity and brevity, so the minutes will be easy to read.
  • In terms of minutes of meeting (MOM) format, here are a few things to keep in mind: 
  • Always be objective
  • Try to write in the same tense throughout the whole process.
  • Try to avoid using names other than to record motions and seconds. 
  • It’s ideal to avoid personal observations — the minutes should be solely fact-based in terms. 
  • If you need to refer to any other documents, don’t try to explain or summarize them. Rather, you should simply indicate where to find them or attach them as an appendix.  
Taking meeting minutes effectively

4. Do meeting minutes have to be approved?

Before sharing your meeting minutes, you need to check out with the Chair for the review and approval of minutes circulation. They are not an official record of a meeting unless this the approval takes place. Depending on your Board and type of the meeting, minutes may also be formally approved at the beginning of the next meeting. 

5. Sharing or Distributing Meeting Minutes

As the official Secretary or “minutes-taker”, your may have to share or distribute the minutes. 

Online sharing

Sharing or distributing generally depends on the tools or system the company uses. As minutes and notes can create a pile of paper, it will be great if you can use a paperless sharing process. Google docs, pdf, MS word file anything will do as long as you can forward them to the members and upload in the cloud. Board members can simply read and if needed, edit them and save a few trees!

Wrapping Up

There are hundred of ways you can write minutes at a board meeting. But a few is effective and easy to do. Learn the best way of doing it and impress your boss and everyone in no time!

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