How To Take and Distribute Meeting Minutes

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 28 June 2022

Published 20 May 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Meeting minutes are vital to the health of any organisation. They serve as a reminder of important conversations, a record of changes within the company and a way for people to stay up to date with current events. Being in charge of writing meeting minutes can be a daunting task at first, but if you have a thorough understanding of what they are and an actionable plan to take them, writing meeting minutes can be quite simple.

In this article, we explain meeting minutes, provide steps on how to take them and give an example of meeting minutes that you can refer to as a template.

What are meeting minutes?

Meeting minutes are notes that detail what participants discussed during a meeting. They serve as a reminder to attendees of what they covered and any decisions they made in the meeting. Meeting minutes usually include:

  • Attendance

  • Reference to and correction of previous meeting minutes

  • Key decisions

  • Voting outcomes

  • Action items

  • New business

  • Details about the next meeting

Usually, one person takes the notes and once the meeting concludes, then they type them in an easy-to-read format. Typically, a senior coworker who attended the meeting approves the meeting minutes before distributing them to meeting attendees and filing them away.

The primary purpose of taking meeting minutes is to create an official record of the meeting. However, it's important to note that meeting minutes are not an exact transcript of events. The meeting minutes can act as a reference for a variety of reasons such as verifying attendance, tracking progress on a project or providing details for legal proceedings. Meeting minutes also help those employees who could not attend stay informed with decisions and project updates.

Related: Meeting minutes vs. notes: definitions and examples

How to take meeting minutes

The following steps can help you take and distribute notes efficiently:

1. Include general information about the meeting

Before the meeting even begins, it's a good idea to make notes of general information such as the date, time, location and reason for the meeting. Later, when coworkers review the meeting minutes, these details will give them context and help them to understand why members may have discussed certain items. It's also helpful to list the names of everyone who should be and is in attendance.

2. Utilise shorthand

Using shorthand and abbreviations will help you write notes quicker and ensure you're able to capture more information. For example, use initials to identify participants or an acronym to represent an important project. Instead of writing every word, focus on the important parts such as certain projects or tasks and who is going to complete them. Eventually, you will develop your own form of shorthand that you can easily translate when writing up the final notes.

Related: How To Write Meeting Notes: Essential Steps

3. Sit next to the meeting leader

It's a good idea to sit next to the meeting leader or chairperson when taking meeting minutes. As the person recording the official record, you want the vantage point that will best enable you to hear and document all information clearly and precisely. Sitting near management ensures most, if not all, statements are addressed in your direction, making it easier to listen to and understand what is being said.

4. Pay close attention to decisions and action items

Your notes will be a reference for many people regarding a variety of subjects, so it's necessary to capture all the important details. If there was a vote during the meeting, note how individuals voted. If the meeting is about project updates, write any changes in deadlines and other important components of the timeline. Part of taking meeting minutes is knowing when to take notes and when to listen. There will be parts of the meeting that are unimportant in the long run, and it's your job to determine what information will be valuable for the official record.

Always ask for clarification when needed. Note-taking should not interfere with the flow of the meeting, but for important decisions or discussions, it's essential to get the details right.

Related: How to improve observation skills: a step-by-step guide

5. Follow a template

Create a minutes template that will help you keep track of the important details so you miss nothing along the way. If this is a meeting where you must take part, it's helpful to use an audio recorder so you can go back and ensure you have included all the necessary information.

It's also essential to have another template for writing up the final meeting minutes before you distribute them. Following a set template every time will familiarise readers with your note-taking style and help them decide what information they need to focus on.

6. Get your notes approved

Once you type up the meeting minutes in your template, they need approval. Usually, a senior team member or manager who was in attendance at the meeting approves them. If they make any edit requests, make the changes and resubmit the minutes for their approval. Depending on office protocols, a senior member may want to go over the minutes and expand on details they think need more explaining. Once you have final approval, you can then send out the meeting minutes.

7. Distribute the meeting minutes

After you type up the rough notes and receive approval, it's time to distribute them to the relevant parties. Distribute the meeting minutes promptly after the meeting, typically one or two days after. Your company may have a preferred method of distribution. These usually involve one or more of the following document-sharing methods:

  • Sending out a physical copy

  • Emailing

  • Using a cloud-based sharing tool

  • Posting on the company's internal network

You may also save the minutes for future reference. Follow your organisation's protocols for storing minutes either by filing a physical copy, saving it on a hard drive or adhering to another method.

Related: A Guide to the Communication Process (Written and Verbal)

Tips for taking meeting minutes

Having a plan before the meeting even starts is key to making the process as easy as possible. You can properly prepare for the meeting in advance by looking at the meeting agenda so you clearly understand the discussion points and flow of the meeting. You may also want to talk to the person who is leading the meeting to get a better understanding of the tone. Talking to meeting attendees can be helpful for the same reason.

You will also want to come to the meeting physically prepared. Have a backup pen, in case yours runs out of ink, as well as any other equipment necessary. This will ensure you don't have to leave the meeting for something and miss important points. When writing up the meeting minutes, remember to stay objective and concise. Expand on any areas you think are necessary to comprehension and make sure the entire document is an unbiased overview of what happened in the meeting.

Related: What Are Organisational Skills? (Types and Examples)

Here are some more general rules to follow when taking and writing up meeting minutes:

  • Follow all formatting guidelines set by your employer

  • Use a traditional font such as Arial or Times New Roman, in a readable font size

  • Leave spaces between major sections and use bold headings

  • Write in the same tense throughout to avoid confusion

Meeting minutes example

The following example represents the minutes from a typical meeting of an organisation's board members:

Purple Fern Inc.
Board of Directors Meeting

Date: Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Location: Meeting Room C in Headquarters
Reason: Monthly Catch-up Meeting

Present:

  • Sarah Twigg, President

  • Thomas Abdul, Vice President

  • Carla Vule, Secretary

  • Hope Liu, Historian

  • Geoff Desjardins

  • Finn Walker

  • Valerie Krum

  • Ben Choi

Absent:

  • Karl Low, Treasurer

Quorum Met

Welcome

The meeting started at 2:07 p.m. led by Sarah Twigg

August 2021 meeting minutes approved

Proceedings

Finance report provided by Carla Vule

  • Filling in for Karl Low as Treasurer while he is on leave for the next two weeks

  • A recent report shows that while sales are up by 20%, name recognition is down among the target demographic (20 to 30-year-olds)

  • Motion made to hire an outside advertising consultant to help with brand recognition. Debated pros and cons among meeting attendees for 20 minutes.

  • Motion seconded and passed

Expansion/construction committee report by Finn Walker

  • Construction of new office car park almost complete

  • They will complete the project in January at the earliest, March at the latest

  • Overflow temporary parking remains at King Street car park

New business and announcements

The company will take part in a community Halloween celebration next month. We will have a stand giving out free samples of our product, along with sweets for trick-or-treaters.

We will need four volunteers for this event, which is on October 30, 2021, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Volunteer sign-up sheet will remain in the kitchen until October 17, 2021.

The next board meeting is scheduled for October 11, 2021, at 2 p.m.

Adjournment

Meeting adjourned at 3:13 p.m.

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