￼A Guide to Taking Effective Meeting Minutes
The pandemic has not only refocused people’s priorities, but also made them pay more attention to their investments. This movement has made many members more engaged, more critical of what their board does, how problems are solved and generally more interested in exactly what goes on at those board meetings.
This is why keeping accurate meeting minutes is becoming a key component of a well-functioning board.
Did I hear a *gulp*?
Well, do not fret. I will help guide you through how to ensure you’re keeping accurate and quality minutes, while also providing you with some great tips you can use along the way.
At some point, most boards will have their meeting minutes come into question — this is when your minutes will get picked apart and analyzed. To save everyone time and effort, the more accurate and clear your meeting minutes are, the faster this process will be.
You may feel like this is a difficult task, but it’s important to remember that meeting minutes are not intended to be a verbatim account of each meeting. Minutes are intended to contain enough information to allow someone to understand when and how decisions were made, any financial basis used for those decisions and to overall help members understand what’s going on in their association. In providing this information, you’ll help maintain a healthy relationship among the board, management and the members, as well as reinforce that your board is proactive.
Now that you know why minutes are so important (I could go on, they are kind of my jam), let’s dive into some handy tips:
Tips For Taking Meeting Minutes
What Details to Include in Your Meeting Minutes
Beyond the basic elements that all minutes should include – time and date, place, attendance, quorum, etc. — ensure that you focus on recording the relevant topics as set out in the meeting’s agenda. There’s no need to include casual conversations, and always avoid any hearsay and accusations. Overall, use your discretion.
Record Accurate Attendance
Having an accurate count of attendees who were present at each meeting and for voting on motions is very important. The best method to ensure your attendance record is accurate is to prepare a list of all the members and expected attendees (including guests and representatives) in advance of the meeting. This allows you to easily check off anyone in attendance and ensures that they are identified by the correct name.
The easiest way to ensure your minutes are impartial is to always approach them from a third-person perspective, even if you’re part of the board. Refrain from using pronouns such as I, we, us,or you.
Make Sure Meeting Minutes Are Clear
It’s important that the minutes allow any current or future board member to easily refer to a prior meeting, understand what may have been discussed and the decisions that were made based on those discussions. Having clear and concise minutes is also crucial for compliance.
Consistency is Key
Consistency is very important not only in the method of minute taking for each meeting (e.g., using consistent titles, acronyms, etc.), but also in the format of the document (e.g., layout, font, spacing, etc.). Having a set template allows for ease of reference and saves time while minute taking, as you can easily identify the sections and information that needs to be completed.
Take Care Editing the Meeting Minutes
Always allow for ample time to edit the record to ensure that the meeting minutes are succinct, clear, and easy to read. This includes confirming the content is relevant, the grammar is correct, and the sentences are well-formed. If you utilize an external company for this service, inquire about their editing methods and ensure that all parties agree on what methods to use.
When In-Camera Minutes Should be Used
Most often, the board will have policies that set out when to use in-camera minutes. Although, this can also depend on the rules and regulations in your province. Generally, it is recommended that any highly sensitive or private information be put in the in-camera section of the meeting minutes.
Store and Back up Meeting Minutes
Above all, the number one important tip is to make sure your meeting minutes are properly stored. Whether they are stored electronically or in hard copy, they should always be easy to locate and be backed up, as you never know when you may need them. Having back-up copies is also a best practice.
I hope all the tips that were covered here can help guide you and your board through to a more pain-free minute taking experience!
And if you are looking to see all these tips in action, every month until the end of 2022, Minutes Solutions is offering one CSAE member a FREE minute-taking service! Enter the draw using this form for the chance to win free minute taking at your next virtual meeting ($235 value).