Board meeting minutes are a vital part of an annual board meeting’s record and are one of the keys to the functioning of a healthy board. Whether you’re the board secretary or just a meeting enthusiast who loves keeping things organized, you know that minute-taking sometimes feels like a challenging and underappreciated task. However, learning to take effective minutes at a board meeting is worth it. It pays off and makes things smoother down the road.
Our specialists have put together this guide for you to improve your corporate board meeting minutes and save time on organizing and maintaining important notes.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What are board meeting minutes?
- Why use board meeting minutes?
- Board meeting minutes examples of for-profit and nonprofit organizations.
- How to take board meeting minutes.
- What not to include in the board meeting minutes template.
- What role do minutes play in board resolutions?
- Meeting minutes FAQs
What are board meeting minutes?
First, let’s clarify the purpose of board meeting minutes before we dig deeper into the details.
Board meeting minutes are an essential tool used to record the proceedings and key decisions made during corporate board meetings.
The Survey on the Practice of Minutes by the Governance Institute of Australia highlights that meeting minutes serve as an official record of the board’s discussions and decisions, offering valuable insights into the organization’s decision-making process.
The majority (68%) prefer meeting minutes to be written in reported speech, while 20% disagree. Using “will” and “shall” is essential for outlining policies or actions. Bullet points are acceptable as long as they accurately capture the meeting, and while reported speech is a popular choice, other factors should also be considered.
Hence, by utilizing board meeting templates, organizations streamline their documentation processes.
Why bother with meeting minutes?
This question might arise when reading the first two paragraphs of the article, and we appreciate your concerns. It’s important to understand why you’re spending so much time documenting all actions and conversations. Otherwise, you may question why you are wasting time exercising your note-taking skills.
What you need to understand is that board meeting minutes are not just a record for personal use. They come with a plethora of advantages and are considered a best practice in corporate governance for several reasons:
Meeting minutes are a legal record
The content of approved meeting minutes is legally actionable and serves as legal protection in case of a lawsuit. Therefore, it’s best to adhere to the board meeting minutes’ legal requirements and treat this document as a valid record from the beginning.
They can attract investors
Board meeting minutes can be proof of progress for prospective sponsors and anyone else looking to invest in your venture. If recorded effectively, they reflect the efficiency and competence of the board.
They are the blueprint for future decisions
Thinking of your board meeting minutes as a blueprint is useful since that’s exactly what they are for future projects. Board meeting minutes can be treated as a reference source that consolidates all the important topics for upcoming projects and future meetings.
Meeting minutes help to save time
Predefined sections in the template prompt the minute-taker to focus on critical aspects of the meeting, saving time and effort compared to starting from scratch each session.
A well-designed template ensures that no essential information is overlooked, as it includes sections for recording key discussion points, decisions, action items, and responsibilities.
Meeting notes highlight the organization’s transparency
Transparent governance is crucial for building trust among stakeholders. A board meeting minutes facilitate clear and transparent communication by documenting discussions, decisions, and the rationale behind them.
They facilitate review and follow-up
Members and stakeholders can review meeting minutes during and after a board meeting to stay informed about the organization’s progress and commitments. A structured template allows for easy identification of action items and follow-up tasks.
Using board meeting minutes is a practical and efficient way to capture and document essential information from board meetings.
Board of directors meeting minutes template
Whether conducting an offline or virtual board meeting, a board minutes template should include essential information that accurately reflects the proceedings and decisions made during the session.
While the specific content varies depending on the organization’s needs and industry, the following elements are typically included in the board meeting minutes sample:
1. Date, time, and location
A list of all attendees, including board directors, executive directors, guests, finance department, and any individuals present, is noted.
3. Approval of previous minutes
If applicable, approval of meeting minutes from the previous meeting minutes is recommended.
4. Meeting agenda items
The agenda items for the current meeting are listed, providing a clear outline of the topics discussed. This simple step ensures attendees are on the same page.
5. Discussion and decisions
For each meeting agenda item, a summary of the discussions and any decisions reached is provided. This includes the rationale behind the decisions and any significant viewpoints expressed by stakeholders.
6. Action Items
Any action items assigned during the meeting are recorded, along with the responsible individuals and due dates.
7. Voting record
In the case of formal votes on specific matters, the voting results and how each board member voted (for, against, abstained) are documented.
8. Reports and presentations
Key points from reports and presentations made during the meeting are summarized.
9. Financial statements
If financial matters were discussed, relevant financial statements, budget updates, or financial projections may be included.
10. Announcements and disclosures
Important announcements or disclosures made during the meeting are recorded.
11. Signature and date
The minutes of the board of directors meeting template should include signatures from the minute-taker and the board chair or secretary to certify accuracy.
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How to take board meeting minutes
Taking board meeting minutes is an important task for recording the discussions, decisions, and actions taken during a meeting. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to take board meeting minutes effectively:
- To better prepare for the meeting, ask for the meeting agenda beforehand to grasp the discussion topics and organize your note-taking accordingly.
- Get acquainted with the key participants, such as board members, executives, and any guests present at the meeting.
- Use the right tools
- Have a reliable note-taking tool
- Capture key information
- Date and time
- Absences and proxies
- Structure notes
- Organize notes by topics or agenda items using headings and bullet points.
- Document discussions
- Summarize key points. Be concise but ensure to capture essential details.
- Identify action items. Note any action items assigned to specific individuals, along with deadlines and responsible parties.
- Record decisions and votes
- Note formal decisions. Clearly state resolutions or decisions made during the meeting.
- Capture voting results. Record the outcome of votes taken, including the number of votes in favor, against, and abstentions.
- Review and finalize
- Following the meeting, take the time to carefully review the minutes for both accuracy and completeness.
- Share the draft minutes with the board chair or meeting leader for review and approval before distributing them to all attendees and relevant stakeholders.
- Distribution and storage
- Once approved, distribute the finalized minutes to all attendees and stakeholders as soon as possible after the meeting.
- Keep a secure and organized record of the meeting minutes for future reference and compliance purposes.
It’s important to maintain a consistent and concise writing style, capturing the key points without transcribing every detail. The board minutes should focus on the decisions and actions taken rather than the individual opinions expressed.
What not to include in board meeting notes templates
Meeting minutes are an important resource of both basic information and crucial details. In some cases, it is the only source of proof when the company is facing the consequences of decisions made by directors years ago.
However, going into too much detail on all the topics discussed is not always a good idea and can escalate legal trouble, especially in court. Corporations that decide to take meeting minutes verbatim, must realize the potential harm these board minutes can cause in case of potential disputes.
Therefore, using board meeting software, go over the draft minutes and note all the information that would be best to keep out of the official record, such as:
- Personal opinions. Board minutes should not include personal opinions or subjective comments made by individual board members or participants. The minutes should focus on objective summaries of discussions and decisions.
- Off-topic discussions. Keep meeting minutes focused on agenda items and relevant topics; avoid off-topic discussions or tangents. Stick to the key points discussed during the meeting.
- Excessive detail. While it’s essential to capture the main points of discussions, board minutes should not be overly detailed, as this makes them lengthy and difficult to navigate. Stick to the essential points and avoid verbatim transcriptions.
- Private or sensitive information. Confidential or sensitive information, such as details about personnel matters, ongoing legal issues, or proprietary company secrets, should not be included in the meeting minutes. Such information should be handled with utmost confidentiality.
- Jokes or humor. Board minutes should maintain a professional tone. Avoid including jokes or humorous remarks made during the meeting, as they detract from the official record’s seriousness.
- Unresolved discussions. If certain discussions were left unresolved or postponed to the next meeting, there’s no need to detail those in the minutes. Instead, the focus should be on the actions or decisions taken during the current meeting.
- Unofficial comments. Do not include informal comments made before or after the official meeting, such as casual conversations or chitchat.
By excluding these unnecessary elements, board minutes become concise, relevant, and more effective in communicating critical information to stakeholders and ensuring transparency and accountability in the organization’s governance.
If you are unclear on a point recorded in the board meeting minutes, request clarification by reaching out to the accountable member. Additionally, always make sure to get the chairman’s approval of the final copy of the board minutes before sharing it with other directors.
How meeting minutes can help with a board resolution
Meeting minutes play a crucial role in supporting board resolutions in several ways:
Documentation of a decision-making process
Meeting minutes provide a comprehensive record of the discussions that led to a board resolution. They capture the various viewpoints expressed by board members, the questions asked, and the rationale behind the final decision. This documentation is essential in case the resolution’s validity is ever challenged or questioned.
Keep in mind that the best board meeting minutes templates, like the ones attached above, include all the decisions of the board members. The more comprehensive the template is in terms of recording information, the more helpful it will be.
That’s when online meeting minutes tools help. They provide effective templates that help get the most out of board meetings. An online meeting minutes tool helps you:
- Set meeting goals
- Create a meeting agenda
- Follow a timeline for decisions
- Automate processes and reduce errors
- Ensure effective collaboration on talking points and meeting minutes
- Assign action items among members
- Get comprehensive feedback from members
When these aspects are achieved, it becomes easier for board members to vote and make decisions. So, if you’re planning to evolve your board’s decision-making processes and ensure that each member has an equal share in the productivity of a meeting, an online tool for meeting minutes is a great solution.
Legal and regulatory compliance
Board resolutions often involve significant official and legal decisions which have legal and regulatory implications. Meeting minutes serve as official evidence that the resolution was duly considered and approved by the board in accordance with the organization’s bylaws and applicable laws.
Proof of due diligence
The meeting minutes demonstrate that the board acted responsibly and conducted the necessary due diligence before arriving at a resolution. This is particularly important for resolutions involving financial transactions, major contracts, or significant organizational changes.
Reference for future actions
Minutes serve as a reference point for future actions and implementation of the resolution. They outline the action items and responsibilities assigned to board members or executives, ensuring that everyone is aware of their roles in executing the resolution.
Transparency and accountability
Publishing meeting minutes or making them available to relevant stakeholders promotes transparency within the organization. By having a clear record of the annual board meeting’s resolution and the reasons behind it, stakeholders understand the decision-making process, which fosters trust and accountability.
Communication with shareholders and investors
Meeting minutes can be shared with shareholders and investors to keep them informed about important board decisions. This level of transparency is vital for maintaining investor confidence in the organization.
Meeting minutes made easy with our template
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- Board meeting minutes are essential tools for documenting and recording the proceedings and decisions made during corporate board meetings.
- Using a template for board meeting minutes ensures consistency, completeness, and professionalism in recording meeting details.
- The minutes should include crucial information such as the meeting date, attendees, decisions made, action items, voting records, key reports, and presentations.
- Board meeting minutes should not include personal opinions, off-topic discussions, excessive details, sensitive information, unattributed statements, conflicts, humor, or unofficial comments.
- Meeting minute templates support board resolutions by documenting the decision-making process, ensuring legal and regulatory compliance, and serving as evidence of due diligence.
- They provide a reference for future actions, promote transparency and accountability, and can be used to communicate with stakeholders and resolve misunderstandings.
- In cases of disputes or litigation, meeting minutes serve as official evidence to support the board’s actions and decisions.
Frequently asked questions
How to take minutes at a board meeting?
To take minutes at a board meeting, follow these steps:
📝Listen actively and take notes of essential points.
📝Record the date, time, and attendees at the beginning.
📝Make it a priority to record decisions, discussions, and action items accurately.
📝Employ clear and concise language when summarizing the essential points.
📝Ensure that the minutes are promptly reviewed and completed following the meeting.
📝Share the approved minutes with board members and stakeholders.
What is the best way to record board meeting minutes?
Traditionally, the person taking minutes would write or type them manually, distribute the copies after the meeting, and then store the record in an archive. However, with the rise of board meeting software, the administrative aspect of board reporting evolved into a new era.
Board portals significantly simplify data distribution, allow members to stay on the same page throughout every step of the process, and help organizations keep up with the legal demands of board governance.
How to write board meeting minutes using a template?
The meeting minutes example makes the process of writing board meeting minutes simple and straightforward. Choose the template that suits your goals best and simply follow the board meeting minutes format to record agenda items, discussions, decisions, and action items.
Can I use a board meeting minutes template?
Yes, using a board meeting minutes template is highly recommended. Sample board meeting minutes provide a consistent and organized format for recording minutes, making the process more efficient and ensuring that critical information is not overlooked.
Whether you are an experienced minute-taker or new to the role, utilizing a template streamlines the process and enhances the quality of the minutes. Implement best practices for minute-taking and governance in your organization by customizing the template.