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 most important thing is that the responsible person sets out the information in an appropriate way. Conciseness and clarity are the primary principles involved in taking effective minutes at a meeting. The information should be easy to understand and consistent.
What is the purpose of meeting minutes?
It’s important that the board of directors has all the necessary information they need after a conference. Provided that the meeting minutes include only relevant decisions and events, the value of the minutes extends well beyond the meeting, acting as a reference point for further decision making. Chaotic records are unlikely to help trace the most important points nor will they help those in charge reach efficient solutions in the long term.
How to take meeting minutes: best practices
During preparation, keep in mind the main goal of minute taking. Quality is an important part of the end result. Therefore, it’s important to review certain recommendations about how to write board meeting minutes so you will be fully armed and ready.
Before the meeting
A minutes-taker should realize what the expectations are for meeting minutes to ensure they are fully prepared for the task. This includes having a pre-set list of matters that will be discussed so that the minutes-taker can outline the number of board participants, the issues that committee members will discuss, as well as the time allotted for each topic.
Meeting minutes often include data or documents related to previous negotiations. If it becomes necessary to clarify something or refer to the before mentioned materials, the board of directors can do that immediately with previous minutes.
During the meeting
The golden rule of starting a meeting is to do it on time. This demonstrates the organization respects the time of those attending and ensures all the topics can be covered as planned. 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. The minutes-taker starts 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 may not commit to a clear decision on a matter and the meeting will start to deviate to the next topic. In this case, a minutes-taker’s job is to ask for clarification on that point.
A minute taker should avoid describing everything that is said verbatim, as this could cause them to miss important points that affect future steps or cause them to neglect asking for clarification on important points.
The final stage of board meeting minutes taking is to summarize and announce the results and an action plan. A quality report is comprehensive and consistent. Mistakes usually lead to negative consequences.
There are a few legal requirements that act as general rules to follow. Each state government is eligible to regulate their own legal requirements for corporations. Companies listed on the stock market must follow official security rules.
States provide corporations with the ability to choose how they take meeting minutes. Though the board of directors is in charge of the final decision, there is a generally held set of guidelines most corporations follow to ensure the most efficient records. This guarantees the minutes are viable for use in the future. Otherwise, poorly taken minutes can hurt the board of directors further down the road.
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 added as attachments.
After the meeting
It is important to arrange meeting minutes to make sure they are clear and meaningful. It is a great idea to do this immediately after the meeting so that everything is still fresh in your mind.
A minutes-taker should analyze each written word to make sure it is unambiguous. The assigned tasks, solutions, and goals should not give rise to questions. The 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 ensure the minutes are brief and easy to understand.
Do not forget that this document is legal. The minute-takers’ personal opinions or conclusions should not be included.
Once the meeting minutes are in proper shape, the secretary must sign the minutes, making it official. Some boards require the signature of the president. Making a backup is always a good idea as well. Before sending the board meeting minutes to the directors, make sure the president adds their signature to the document.
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 corrections, they should be added to the document. If there are no more comments, then the meeting minutes are approved. Amendments are still possible if necessary later on.
A physical copy of the meeting minutes is typically kept in the office. Be sure to remove printed drafts or sketches on all devices.
Sometimes the board of directors may not have a meeting at any point 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, have begun to utilize online tools to make things easier. The creation of meeting minutes has become more streamlined thanks to the support of dedicated portals like board management software. Developers have implemented many useful functions into this platform, and any user should be able to master the intuitive interface. The minutes-taker will find tools for creating, editing, and sharing meeting minutes that help speed up various tasks. 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.
- Tip #1: Don’t forget to consult the agenda before the meeting.
The first, and possibly biggest, mistake a minute-taker can make is proceeding with minute taking in a meeting with no agenda. A meeting without an agenda is fraught with constant distractions 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 #2: Don’t ignore the time. Adherence to the agenda and timelines will ensure good meeting minutes.
Ignoring the time limit affects the length of the meeting. Discussing matters out of turn, or for longer than planned, can prevent the meeting from achieving the desired results.
- Tip #3: Use a meeting minutes template to stay on task.
The board meeting minutes template helps the minutes-taker concentrate and effectively stay on task. Excessive attention to each word can distract the minute taker from the main objective, while neglecting details can also be problematic. A template helps the minute taker stay organized and do their job efficiently.
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. Afterward the platform generates the minutes of the meeting and sends the report to the board of directors.
Creation, editing, and distribution of the minutes can easily be automated, saving you valuable time and effort. The templates available on the platform can be modified to suit your requirements. Or you can use predefined templates that are ready to go.
Once the program has generated the board meeting minutes, they can be sent directly from 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 to them.
All tasks from the previous meeting are automatically transferred to the new agenda.
Assigning tasks is also simplified. All participants who must complete a particular task will receive a message. Information about the completion or non-completion of the task is entered into the board portal software, making it easy to identify shortcomings and track progress.
The developers also took into account the need for attachments. Files can be attached to meeting minutes and all visitors to the portal can view or download the attachment.
To summarize, the main advantages of board portal software include:
- greater focus on the flow of the board meeting, with the support of a quality tool that streamlines the minute-takers tasks
- prefabricated templates that can be customized
- 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 board portal software has made the minute-takers task much easier, with all stages of the process taking place on the platform to ensure high quality and seamless documentation and sharing.