Minutes are an efficient way to keep track of how corporate decisions transform into actions. Besides acting as an internal record, they can be required for legal purposes as well.
Let’s quickly go over what corporate minutes are, how they differ from meeting minutes, and how to write them effectively — with or without a template.
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What are corporate minutes?
In a few words, corporate minutes are an official document that register the most important aspects of a corporate management meeting. Unlike meeting transcripts, which record all of the exchanges taking place during a meeting, minutes serve as a summary, detailing decisions taken and voting or polling results, as well as the members in attendance and the date and time of the meeting.
In many jurisdictions, corporate minutes are required by law. They can be necessary for a variety of reasons, among which include:
- to ensure compliance with relevant legislation and guarantee protections afforded to corporation status
- to provide board transparency before stockholders: by providing a clear and concise history of a corporation’s key activities, minutes help generate trust and reliability
- to solve internal disputes: minutes can often solve or avoid disagreements within a corporation by showing precisely what was decided previously
- for taxation purposes: as they register decisions and actions taken, minutes can be required during tax audits or other verification processes
How do corporate minutes differ from board meeting minutes?
In general, corporate meeting minutes are just like other meeting minutes — the difference is simply who attends. When we talk about “corporate meeting minutes”, we are typically referring to a corporate management meeting rather than a board of directors meeting.
What this means is that, while board of directors meetings are often preoccupied with elaborating corporation-wide policies and strategies, corporate management meetings tend towards a greater focus on the actual implementation of those general decisions.
How to take corporate minutes
In order to take effective meeting minutes, there are a few things to keep in mind. You should be aware of the general format requirements for corporate minutes, as well as following the style rules and knowing what to include and what to leave.
Corporate minute format
While the content of minutes will naturally vary considerably according to the subject being discussed, there are a few elements that shape the broader structure of minute-taking:
- Heading. It should include the name of the organization, the date, time, and venue. It may also include the subject(s) discussed during the meeting.
- Attendance. Essentially, a list of the members present at the meeting. A subsection may also include a list of absentees.
- Body. This section is concerned with what happened and what was addressed at the meeting. Besides the main points, it can also include actions such as the approval of the board meeting agenda, a review of minutes from previous meetings, and the agreement on adjourning the meeting to another place and time.
- Footer. It usually includes the signature of the person responsible for taking the minutes (often, the corporate secretary), as well as the signatures of attendees.
Elements of style for corporate meeting minutes
Just as with other typical corporate documents, minutes tend to follow a set of style rules aimed at creating useful and transparent reporting of the meetings held. Key among these guidelines are:
- Tone: clear, concise and impartial. The minute should be easy to read, brief and to the point, and objective.
- Voice: the use of the passive voice and the simple past are preferred: ‘the meeting was called to order…’.
- Target: the participants of the meeting. The minutes help attendees review what was discussed and reviewed — it’s an outline, and not a verbatim record of the discussion.
- Focus: on results, not processes. The minutes should emphasize what was done rather than what was said.
Other important aspects
Besides following the general format and style guidelines detailed above, it’s also important to:
- determine beforehand who is to take the minutes. This job will typically fall to a secretary, or acting the board secretary who will take notes
- follow the general structure provided by the meeting agenda
- complete and distribute the minutes for approval from the meeting participants shortly after the end of the meeting (ideally within 1-2 days)
Corporate meeting minutes template
Whenever possible, the use of a previously-set format (or template) is recommended. This not only helps speed up the process of minute-taking but also allows you to organize better and categorize the minutes later.
Below you can see an example of a corporate minutes template:
While you can create your own templates from scratch, you can also further streamline the process by using your company’s board portal platform of choice.
This will allow you to generate a corporate minutes template pdf, docx, or another text format by simply inputting the relevant meeting data and clicking a button. You’ll also be able to generate a corporate minutes template from the meeting agenda itself. Finally, board portal software makes it easier to send out minutes for member approval.
As you can see, corporate meeting minutes do not differ substantially from other types of minutes. The main thing when preparing to take minutes is to follow the appropriate style. The format is also key. Take advantage of the resources offered by board management software, it saves time and effort and ensures a consistent and accurate format throughout.
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