How to take minutes at meetings
Knowing how to take minutes at meetings is an essential skill. Who should be responsible for taking these notes? At a board meeting the answer is the company secretary.
Taking minutes doesn’t just mean summarising the meetings, as minutes provide the board members with an understanding of actions to be taken from the written records.
There are things to do before, during, and after the board meeting when taking minutes. If you’re new to the company secretary job or want to improve your effectiveness, here are some tips on how to take minutes at meetings.
Find out what is required
Before you begin anything at all, as a company secretary, you need to clearly understand what is expected of you like the minute taker. You, as a secretary, are the recording officer of a meeting and be in the custody of all the records. These records you take need to be available for inspection by the board of directors, and the chairperson might require you to produce the documents for reference purposes. You also need to be aware of your board’s specific policies and ask for clarification if you are unsure about anything from your manager or chairperson.
You should try to obtain the agenda for the board meeting, if possible, before preparing your template.
Create a template for the minutes before the meeting
Having your minute’s template ready in advance can help you stay organised and sharp during the board meeting. Making a template beforehand can make taking notes much more straightforward and help you save time since you know what sections to fill and the information that needs to be included in the minutes. A consistent format for the minutes will allow a substitute to stand in for you easily when necessary while following the same effective template for taking the minutes at the meeting.
You should try to obtain the agenda for the board meeting, if possible, before preparing your template. Then go ahead and build out sections with the information you have. These sections include; Type of meeting, Date and time, Location, Name of board chair, Names of the expected board members, An overview of previous board meeting minutes and results, Agenda items, and Planned hour of adjournment. In cases where there are supplementary materials like handouts, you should also note them in the appropriate sections.
You may want to have a backup option with you for taking the minutes in case your initial choice fails.
Prepare all the required materials
It is imperative to bring all the appropriate materials needed to take the minutes with you to the board meeting. Some board secretaries are more modern and prefer laptops to take meeting minutes, while others prefer using the old-school pen and notebook method. Either way, you need to ensure that everything you need to take the minutes at the meeting is packed—e.g. notebook, pen, power cable, etc.
Also, you might want to have a backup option with you for taking the minutes in case your initial choice fails. In some instances, your pen might act up, or your laptop may develop an unexpected fault, so it is essential always to have a backup option ready to take the meeting minutes successfully.
Anyone who arrives late is also essential and should be recorded in the board meeting minutes.
Note the attendance
Marking the attendance before or at the start of the board meeting is also one of the duties performed while taking the minutes of a meeting. You can make use of any method to do this. It could be by circulating a sheet for the attendees to sign or by ticking the names of attendees on your previously created minutes template.
It is vital to accurately count who was present and who wasn’t for each motion at the meeting, as you can require this information. Any attendee who arrived late is also essential and should be recorded in the board meeting minutes.
Be sure to note the actions taken and at what time for each agenda.
Fill in your template
Proceed to fill in the minute’s template as the board meeting progresses. You may write down the number of agenda items corresponding to each minute. This makes your work more organised and easy to compile your finalised minutes document after the meeting.
Be sure to note the actions taken and at what time for each agenda, the exact wordings of each motion carried and the instigator, the members of the board who voted for or against the motion, and any conflicts of interest. It would be best if you also tried to focus on critical points and be as objective as possible.
It’s essential to take note of the hour of adjournment of the meeting.
Take note of the time of adjournment
At the end of the board meeting, it is essential to take note of the hour of adjournment of the meeting. The time at which the meeting is called to a close must be present in the meeting minutes, and If the time and date of the next meeting have been decided, you should also include that in the meeting minutes. This will also help you when preparing for the next meeting.
Reports and handouts used during the meeting might need to be referenced later on.
Make copies of supplementary materials
In cases where there were reports or handouts presented at the meeting, you need to make copies of everything and keep them with the minutes. Reports and handouts used during the meeting might need to be referenced later on, and you might be required to present them with the meeting minutes when necessary.
You must distribute the minutes you have recorded to the various board members.
Submit the meeting minutes
After the meeting is over, you need to distribute the minutes you have recorded to the various board members. There are multiple ways in which you can do this. It could be through email, hardcopy, or board portal software. The most secure way, though, is through the board portal software.
Board portals allow you to link the supplementary documents like reports from the minutes. This allows the board members to view and add their comments for discussion whenever needed directly.
- Taking the minutes at a meeting is relatively easy if you know what to do and are well prepared.
- Ensuring you have everything needed is essential and helps for more organised and well-structured work.
- Taking the minutes at a meeting involves proper documentation and at a board meeting, is one of the duties performed by a company secretary.
- You need to correctly record the attendance at the meeting with the corresponding time and be objective when filling the minutes template.