Download a Meeting Minutes Template
What is meeting minutes?
Minutes are a physical record of the proceedings at a meeting. They are used as a source of information or reference point for attendees and non-attendees about what happened during a meeting.
Meeting minutes are usually taken (written, typed or recorded) by the Secretary of a company during the meeting. Minutes do not have to be a verbatim transcription of the meeting, but should include the following:
- Names of the participants;
- Agenda items;
- Decisions made at the meeting;
- Actions agreed to (note the action, the person responsible for the action and the deadline date for the action);
- Any future decisions and follow-ups planned during the meeting; and
- Relevant documents or images can also be attached to the minutes.
How to write minutes of a meeting
Before the meeting
Deciding which tool to use to record the minutes is the first step. You can choose to write the minutes with pen and paper; type it out on a laptop/tablet; and/or use a recording device. It is wise to always have pen and paper as a backup in case of technical difficulties.
A meeting agenda will make minute taking a lot easier as the minutes of the meeting format will mirror that of the agenda. Information available on the meeting agenda which is required for the minutes is:
- the names of all attendees, guests and speakers;
- the order of items up for discussion; and
- documents attached to the agenda should be filed with the minutes.
You can either adapt the agenda template to allow for the minutes of the meeting to be recorded on the agenda, or you can create a template with the meeting outline and blank spaces for your notes.
Click here to find a Microsoft Word meeting minutes template DOC. Unfortunately, a meeting minutes template is not available in Excel format from Microsoft.
During the meeting
- Check the names of the attendees as they arrive. The minutes must contain the names of those in attendance and those absent. Make sure you are familiar with the names of those attending so that you can identify who is speaking.
- Record the starting time and ending time of the meeting.
- If you are recording the meeting, inform the attendees that the meeting is being recorded.
- Do not try and write down everything that is said. Focus on recording decisions and action items agreed upon during the meeting as they happen to ensure accuracy. Ask for clarification if you are unsure what decision was made. The name of the assigned person per action item and the deadline for the action must be included.
- Record information that is required according to your organisation’s rules for meeting minutes.
- Record any decisions for discussions is future meetings.
After the meeting
- Type the minutes from your notes as soon as the meeting is over (while the information is still fresh in your memory). The information in the minutes must be laid out in a manner that is clear and logical rather than chronological. Use the same tense throughout. Be objective.
- The meeting minutes should include the company name; the title of the committee; type/frequency of meeting and the meeting objective. Also, note the start and end time of the meeting.
- List the names of all attendees and note your name as the minute-taker.
- Proofread the minutes before submitting them to the chair of the meeting or distributing them to all attendees.
- File the minutes with additional documentation – either as an appendix or by indicating where the documents can be found.
For an example of the minutes of a meeting, see this sample pdf document. There many more examples of minutes of a meeting available for viewing online.