The minutes of a business meeting document the pertinent information about a specific meeting, including attendees, location and date of meeting. Attendees usually include board members, stockholders or executives of a company. The purpose of meeting minutes is to note who said what and document any action or voting items. The person leading a meeting often will note that something being said is "off the record," which means it should not be written down or recorded. The date, time and location of the next meeting should be one of the last items included in the minutes.
Meeting Minutes Categories
Depending on the size of the business or corporation, meeting minutes typically include: name of company; date of meeting; location of meeting; starting and ending times; names and titles of those leading the meeting; and the name of person taking minutes (usually the secretary of the corporation or business).
Some minutes include an opening statement of financial position read by one of the meeting leaders. Minutes also should include any action items and whether those items were voted upon. In that case, the person posing the vote should be noted, as should the person seconding the vote. The number of persons voting for or against should be included. Minutes also should include the name and title of any person giving a report, such as the treasurer or committee chair.
Keeping Track of Who Said What
The person taking the minutes usually does so using a tape recorder or video podcast. In smaller companies, the person taking the minutes might do so by hand. It's crucial to accurately assign the name of each person speaking during the meeting. Nameplates, placed on the table during the meeting, are one of the best ways for the person taking minutes to accurately assign the name of the person to what he says during the meeting.
Keeping Track of Attendees
One of the headers at the top of the minutes, usually placed after name of company, date, time and location of meeting, is a list of who was in attendance and a separate list of who was absent. These categories are sometimes labelled "Attending" and "Absent." The name of the person taking minutes, usually referred to as the secretary, can be placed under the list of attendees/absentees.
Accuracy in Taking and Editing Minutes
Videotaping a meeting for the purpose of writing minutes is the most accurate way to keep track of what was said and who said it. Using a tape recorder means someone has to rely on handwritten notes to determine who said what. Minutes do not have to reflect every word spoken by every attendee, but should accurately reflect what each person said. The person taking minutes should go back immediately after the meeting when her memory is fresh and be certain each speaker is identified.
Usually, a second person reviews and approves the minutes before they are distributed to executives or board members. Sometimes that person is the vice president or other assigned staff person. Minutes from a previous meeting are usually distributed along with the agenda for the next meeting, if available.