I regularly receive requests from readers inquiring whether I have posted any info on the subject of how to write minutes for a meeting. In fact, last month I had five separate requests about this. Until now, I haven’t actually had anything posted online about this; although one of my ebooks does contain an article on this topic.
Minutes of meetings are important documents because they record in writing what was discussed in the meeting, and what decisions were actually made there. In most organizations a review of the minutes of the primary management meetings over time would reveal an excellent record of the history of that organization.
During my 25+ years working in government-type bureaucracies there were many occasions on which I was tasked with either writing the minutes of meetings myself, or editing/approving minutes written by others. As a result, below are a few suggestions I have for you, should you ever be asked to write the minutes of any type of meeting.
1. Work From An Agenda
A meeting agenda that lists the main items to be discussed should be circulated to all potential attendees a few days (ideally) prior to the meeting so that they can make sure it is on their schedule and that they will have the necessary documents that will be needed to discuss the items listed. That very same agenda should be used by the meeting chairperson to conduct an orderly meeting.
2. Be Short and Concise
Meeting minutes should NOT be a long verbatim “he said” – “she said” account of the meeting. They should record only the essence of the major points discussed and/or major decisions reached, from a “bottom line” perspective. The key items to record are decisions made/deferred, and the specific reasons for that decision.
3. Use Clear and Precise Language
Because minutes of meetings are an “official” record of corporate decisions made, they are often referenced many months later in order to recall what “exactly” was decided at a previous meeting. This makes clarity and precision of language very important when later trying to determine exactly what decision(s) was made and what specifically led to the decision.
4. Make Someone Responsible
In most organizations, a corporate “meeting secretary” is made responsible for organizing meeting logistics, drafting of minutes, and distribution of meeting-related documents such as agendas, minutes, and support documents. This is an important task; the person chosen for this should be well-organized with above-average writing skills.
5. Make Someone Else Accountable
Once the “meeting secretary” has drafted the minutes they should be carefully reviewed and revised if necessary, by the person who chaired the meeting. That individual, who will normally occupy a position of some responsibility in the organization, will then sign them off as “approved” before they are distributed by the secretary.
To see a real-life sample of some actual meeting minutes, click on the following link:
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