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What Should be in Meeting Minutes?

By Garry Crystal
Updated May 23, 2024
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Minutes are notes taken as a way of keeping a record of a business' or group's meeting. They are usually recorded by one nominated person, although this can change from meeting to meeting. Meeting minutes should include information about where and when a meeting was held, who attended, what was discussed in the meeting, and any agreements and decisions that are made.

Apart from the business content, the format of minutes does not usually change from meeting to meeting. The minutes should begin with the place that the meeting is held and the date of the meeting. The time of the meeting should also be recorded, along with the name of the business or association. The people who are in attendance at the meeting should be recorded, as well as those who are absent. The meeting minutes are usually distributed to both absent and present delegates.

The next point will be the approval of the last meeting's minutes. There should also be a section specifically for any matters that arise concerning the last meeting's minutes. Usually, members who were absent from the last meeting will have some points to bring up.

Next on the minutes will be items on the agenda. These will take into account the principal points to be discussed at the meeting. Decisions and agreements made will also be recorded at this point.

The person taking minutes should not try to make a note of every point or discussion made at the meeting. These notes are not an exact copy of every word said, and only the important decisions and agreements need to be recorded. The minutes must also note the name of each person who makes a motion or business point.

Meeting minutes should include which participants were for or against certain decisions and agreements. If a vote on a certain issue is taken, the minutes should record who voted for or against it, as well as the names of the abstentions and the manner in which the vote was taken.

One of the final points should be the any other business motion. This gives people a chance to air their views or put points to the other delegates. At the end, the date, location, and time of the next meeting and the name of the person who is taking the minutes should be recorded.

Meeting minutes should be typed up as soon as possible after the meeting to keep the points fresh in the mind of the person who has taken the notes. A copy of the minutes should be distributed to all members of the group — both those who attended and those who were absent — before the next meeting. This will give members adequate time to prepare.

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Discussion Comments
By Borz — On Jun 09, 2012

I just joined a new company as a project manager, and they were saying that I should not detail the minutes of meetings, and I should not say who said what. This is a waste of time they say, and they just need a list of actions. Please advise; is this correct?

By MissMuffet — On May 24, 2011

I'm going to pass on the URL for this article to the members of a charity committee I serve on. Nobody really knows how to write meeting minutes, and we waste time at the start of every get together jostling to avoid being chosen to do it.

Trying to agree on the previous session's minutes is a nightmare because they are so patchy and messy we then can't really know that they are accurate!

By Acracadabra — On May 22, 2011

@angelBraids - If you look around the Internet you'll find plenty of meeting minutes examples, so I don't think it'll take long for you to get to grips with the technical side of it.

What you would be better off concentrating on are the smaller details. You said you are new to the company, which means you may not have everyone's name clear in your head. I'd do some research on that so you can make accurate notes on the day.

Also you may find yourself trying to understand what people are talking about, and forget to write things down. Try to stay focused on the topic at hand, and make as many notes as possible. If you're not sure what is important you'll be able to check later when you type them up.

By angelBraids — On May 21, 2011

I've just found out that one of my responsibilities in this new job is to take minutes at our weekly department meeting.

This information is wonderful, but as I have never done anything like this before I am really nervous. To make it worse, I'm in a new section, so there isn't any opportunity to look at previous minutes of meetings held.

The fact that we have no dedicated secretarial staff worries me, but for now I just have to find a way to get through this. All tips and advice are very welcome.

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