Guidelines for Taking Minutes

Written by elizabeth (lisa)thompson
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Guidelines for Taking Minutes
Taking organised minutes documents meeting events. (meeting image by Carmen Steiner from

All types of companies, agencies, stockholders, committees, churches and groups hold meetings to address company business. Whether the meeting involves just a few people or thousands, a well-organised meeting flows more smoothly. Part of running a meeting effectively includes documentation by taking good minutes. The minutes provide a legal record of what transpired. Conversations do not need to be recorded word-for-word, only summarised. The following guidelines will help you take organised minutes at any meeting you attend.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Note all of the important elements of the meetings, such as the name of the company, date, time, meeting type, name of the leader, the topics and time of adjournment. Formal meetings need a record of the approval of all resolutions and the previous minutes.

  2. 2

    Outline the agenda ahead of time, with plenty of space available under each topic for notes. This saves you valuable time not writing down information you already know ahead of time during the meeting.

  3. 3

    List those you expect to attend and mark them off as they enter the room, or pass a sheet of paper around on which everyone in attendance should sign and print their name. Make sure they print their name beside their signature as you may not be able to read their writing.

  4. 4

    Make a chart of where everyone is seated. This will help you keep track of who everyone is, especially for those you might be meeting for the first time, as you need to be able to attribute what is said to the person who says it.

Tips and warnings

  • Use whatever method works best for you to record the minutes, such as shorthand, a notepad, a tape recorder or a laptop. Some people even opt to record meetings to backup handwritten information. Know the topics ahead of time so you can easily understand the subject of the meeting. Type up the minutes fairly quickly so you remember what you discussed. Have the meeting leader approve the minutes before you copy and pass them out to everyone. Keep working on your minute-taking skills; they will come in handy in the future. Record the following information: name of presiding officer, your name as minute taker, members present, establishing a quorum, points of order and appeal, actions taken on any previous minutes and notices given at meetings. Also record the exact wording of motions and whether they passed or failed.
  • Do not include the following in the minutes: your own opinions or commentary, excessive details, emotional language or motions that are withdrawn.

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