Meeting minutes are notes or records of the most important actions during a meeting. Board meeting minutes play an essential role both during and after the meeting. They consist of information related to negotiations, namely:
- topics under discussion;
- action items;
- follow-up plans.
Assistants, secretaries, or other assigned persons may perform the task of minutes taking. The main thing is that the responsible person sets out the information in an appropriate way. Conciseness and clarity are the primary principles of how to take minutes at a meeting. The information should be easy to understand and consistent.
What is the purpose of meeting minutes?
The board of directors has all the necessary information after the conference. Provided that the meeting minutes include only relevant decisions and events, their effectiveness is beyond doubt. Chaotic records are unlikely to help you trace the most important points and reach efficient solutions.
Knowing how to do this correctly will give you a good base for further work.
How to Take Meeting Minutes: Best Practices
When preparing for taking minutes, it is important to remember what the main goal of this assignment is. Quality preparation is an important part of the end result. Therefore, there are certain recommendations about how to write board meeting minutes and be fully armed.
Before the meeting
A minutes-taker should realize what expectations for meeting minutes are. So the performer is fully aware of the task.
This person should be aware of the pre-set list of matters. In this case, the minutes-taker can sketch out an outline pointing out the number of participants in the upcoming board of directors. It also indicates information about the issues that the committee members will discuss and the time allotted for them.
Meeting minutes often include data or documents related to previous negotiations. If it becomes necessary to clarify something or refer to the beforementioned materials, the board of directors can do that immediately.
During the meeting
The golden rule of starting a meeting is to do it on time. That demonstrates the organization and mutual respect. A minutes-taker should check the attendance and thank them for the time allotted.
All the people in a conference room should be in the know. It is better to start the ball rolling by reading out the program to avoid confusion. Everyone has to know about the purpose and desired outcome of the meeting.
Immediately after the event, each attendee receives meeting minutes. They help to clarify the next steps and decision making. For notes to be genuinely efficient and useful, a meeting minutes-taker must keep track of every word written. They cannot deviate from the main issues and objectives.
The list of tasks assigned to some or each of the meeting participants is in the document as well.
At some stage of negotiations, the board of directors does not make any specific decision and continues to move on. In this case, a minutes-taker asks for clarification on that point.
A big mistake is to describe everything in meeting minutes down verbatim. In this case, the note-taker may miss important points that affect future steps.
The final stage of board meeting minutes taking is to summarize, announce the results, and an action plan. A quality report is comprehensive and consistent. Mistakes usually lead to negative consequences.
There are a few of them, and they are general rules. Each state government becomes eligible to regulate this issue in the corporations belonging to a particular part of a country. Companies listed on the stock market must follow the security rules.
States provide corporations with the ability to choose the way of taking meeting minutes.
While boards of directors have this opportunity, there is a kind of guidance on how to create the most efficient records. Thus, they are guaranteed to be beneficial in the future. Otherwise, they can harm the board of directors.
Although there are no strict rules for how to take minutes for a meeting, these records should still provide some necessary information:
- Date, time, and place of the meeting.
- What kind of meeting is this.
- The fact of signing a waiver of notice by directors.
- List of names of those present and absent, indicating positions.
- Quorum establishment.
- Board actions – approvals, rejections, etc.
- A summary of the main arguments.
The financial statements and reports of the committee are attachments.
After the meeting
It is necessary to arrange meeting minutes to make sure they are clear and meaningful. It is a great idea to do this immediately after the meeting. In this way, you can still remember some things and add meeting minutes.
A minutes-taker should analyze each written word to make sure it is unambiguous. The assigned tasks, solutions, goals do not give rise to questions. Secretary may spell out the reasons for the resolution made. If there were discussions, then a note-taker could indicate the arguments.
The purpose of editing meeting minutes is to keep the document as concise as possible. That should not make them less understandable. A secretary’s task is to achieve this result.
Do not forget that this document is legal. There are no minutes-taker’s conclusions or solutions here.
Once the meeting minutes are in proper shape, the secretary must sign the minutes. Thus, it becomes official. Some boards require the signature of the president. Making a backup can come in handy. Before sending the board meeting minutes to directors, you need to make sure that the president’s signature is there.
Board Meeting Minutes Approval
As mentioned above, the meeting minutes is an official document. However, it becomes legal after the approval procedure. At the beginning of the next meeting, the chairman may ask for amendments. An objection is not enough. The protester must suggest corrections. If the board of directors points out some, they are made to the document. If there are no more comments, then the meeting minutes are approved. Amendments are still possible if it is necessary.
The minutes of the meeting are kept in the office. Remove printed drafts or sketches on devices.
Sometimes it happens that the board of directors does not have a meeting soon. What is the approval mechanism in this case? This task falls on the shoulders of the executive committee.
Corporations and boards of directors, in particular, are using online tools to make things easier. Meeting minutes creation is not that difficult with the support of dedicated portals like board management software. The developers have implemented many functions into this platform, and any user will master the intuitive interface. There are tools for creating, editing, sharing minutes of meetings. Approval is possible due to built-in voting and electronic signature tools. The final version is under the protection of the portal.
Mistakes to Avoid While Taking Meeting Minutes
Creating a high-quality meeting protocol requires maximum concentration and attention. Omissions or mistakes are likely to result in negative consequences. Below you can find the most common mistakes and recommendations on how to avoid them.
The 1st mistake. There is no agenda. That is fraught with a constant distraction from the main topic of discussion. The agenda is the charted course for the board of directors. The meeting minutes taker cannot create a standards-compliant meeting protocol without it. After all, it is not clear what the purpose of the meeting is and what solutions the directors need to find.
- Tip #1: Don’t forget about your agenda before the meeting.
Time management. Ignoring the time limit affects the length of the meeting. Discussing matters can turn into a long-lasting discussion that will not bring the desired results.
- Tip #2: Don’t ignore the time. Adherence to the agenda and timelines will ensure good meeting minutes.
Neglected details. On the one hand, excessive attention to each word distracts from the main task of the performer. On the other hand, some details may become an evidentiary base in an individual case. It is essential to differentiate the significant aspects of the meeting.
- Tip #3: Use a meeting minutes template or create customized.
The board meeting minutes template helps the minutes-taker to concentrate.
How Board Portals Help to Take Minutes
Board portal software offers many features to simplify meeting minutes. The main advantage of such programs is process automation.
During the meeting, the minutes-taker takes notes, and the platform itself generates the minutes of the meeting. Then it sends the report to the board of directors.
Nobody needs to devote much time and effort to minutes creation, editing, and distribution.
The templates available on the platform can be modified to suit your requirements. Or you can use ready-made ones.
Once the program has generated the board meeting minutes, you can send it using the application. There is no need to use an email account. Guests of board portal software do not register on the platform as it is already available.
All tasks from the previous meeting are automatically transferred to the new agenda.
The way of assigning tasks is also simplified. All those participants who must complete a particular task soon receive a message. Information about the completion or non-completion of the task is entered into the board portal software. That makes it easier to identify shortcomings and track progress.
The developers also took into account the need for attachments. It is possible to attach a file to the meeting minutes. All visitors to the portal can view or download it.
Summing up, we can highlight the main advantages of board portal software:
- the note-taker is more focused on the flow of the board meeting, having a quality tool for creating the meeting minutes.
- templates that you can change or use ready-made.
- receiving a well-prepared meeting protocol in PDF format.
- built-in tools for communication, commenting, and collaboration.
The meeting minutes of the board of directors is an official document. Therefore, it is necessary to take a responsible approach to its creation. The introduction of a board portal software to the market made the task much easier. All stages of the process take place on the platform ensuring high quality.