What Are Written Meeting Minutes?
During a corporation's annual meeting, it is required that someone in attendance, usually the Secretary to the Board, takes notes and records what events took place at the meeting. These notes are called meeting minutes , and they are an essential part of corporate governance.
C Corps and S Corps are required to follow specific business laws to maintain their corporate status. Holding annual meetings and recording meeting minutes (sometimes abbreviated to "MoM") are two requirements that must be fulfilled in most states.
Even if your state does not require recorded meeting minutes, businesses are encouraged to record minutes anyway. Meeting minutes are beneficial for a company because they detail:
- Who attended the meeting
- All issues that were discussed
- Decisions made through motions or votes
- Plans for next steps on these decisions
This can provide your company with legal protection because it is a record of all actions taken by members. In some cases, the IRS will request minutes during an audit. In addition, if a board member missed the meeting, they can refer to the minutes to find out what happened.
Meeting minute records should be retained for at least seven years and must be available to all board members upon request. These records are helpful to a board when they are making decisions about how to move forward with decisions or new projects.
Click here to read more about meeting minutes and their purpose.
How To Write Meeting Minutes
Meeting minutes can be written in many ways, and there are several formats that can be used when preparing meeting minutes. It is important that the structure is professional, and all key information from the meeting is included.
Follow these steps to find out how to write meeting minutes accurately and professionally during a corporate meeting.
Step 1: Plan Ahead
If you are tasked with recording minutes during a corporate meeting, planning ahead and creating an outline is a good first step. Before the meeting, meet with the chairperson to discuss the agenda for the meeting. Using the agenda, you can prepare an outline with each agenda item already noted. As each topic is discussed during the meeting, you will be able to take organized, accurate notes.
Step 2: Taking Notes During the Meeting
During the meeting, you will take notes and record all important actions and decisions. Your notes should be as detailed as possible so you don't miss anything when you draft the official meeting minutes document.
Notes you should be taking include:
- Agenda items discussed
- Decisions made during the meeting
- Any actions taken
- Actions planned to be taken
- Future steps that are discussed
- Who made motions
- Voting outcomes for each motion
- How each member voted on the motion
- Motions that may have been rejected
- Information about new business discussed
- The next meeting’s date and time
If you are taking notes and miss something at any time, don't hesitate to ask for clarification or for someone to repeat what they have said. Some people who take notes for meeting minutes go a step further and record the meeting to refer to the recording when drafting the official document.
Step 3: Writing the Official Meeting Minutes Document
After the meeting, using your detailed notes, you can now write the final draft of the meeting minutes. You will want to write the meeting minutes as soon as possible when the meeting is still fresh in your memory.
You will typically follow a professional template or format that your corporation has chosen for the meeting minutes.
Step 4: Submission and Approval of Meeting Minutes
Once the meeting minutes are completed, you must include your name as the person who submitted the minutes and have the minutes approved. It is common in most corporations for the chairperson to review and approve the meeting minutes for circulation.
Step 5: Distribution of Meeting Minutes
Distribution of meeting minutes can happen in several ways. Many corporations have shifted to using a cloud-based platform that all board members can access to retrieve the meeting minutes.
For additional resources about how to write meeting minutes, check out this article .
What's Included in Meeting Minutes?
You will find that meeting minutes can be written in many formats, but they generally include similar key information.
Meeting minutes should include the following information:
- The date and time of the meeting
- What board members attended the meeting and who was not present
- Acceptance and/or corrections to the previous meeting's minutes
- Each agenda item that was discussed with decisions made or next steps to be taken
As the person in charge of recording meeting minutes, you will become familiar with key terms often used throughout the meeting. You should understand these terms as you will probably have to use them in the official meeting minutes document.
Key terms often used in corporate meetings include:
- Agenda: The plan for the meeting, usually laid out as a list of items to be discussed
- Amendment: A modification to a motion that does not replace a motion but adds to it
- Apologies: A notification that a member will be absent
- Business Arising: Recorded discussions in the minutes from a previous meeting
- Chairperson: Sometimes just called the "Chair," is the person who runs the board meeting
- Consensus: Agreeing on a decision without taking a vote
- Constitution: The governing document of the corporation
- General Business: The main objectives that will be discussed
- Minutes: The written record of the meeting
- Motion: A proposed action brought up in a meeting for discussion and voting upon
- Mover: The member who proposes the motion
- Other Business: This is the opportunity for members to bring up additional issues not scheduled on the agenda
- Point of Order: A complaint against a speaker during a meeting
- Procedural Motion: A motion raised to change the timing of events at the meeting
- Quorum: Minimum number of members required to be at a meeting
- Standing Orders: The rules that determine how a meeting is run
What is the Professional Format for Meeting Minutes?
Many corporations use a standard meeting minute template to format their minutes. Templates can vary, but the important part is that they are professional, include all pertinent information, and are organized.
Most meetings adhere to the following professional format:
- An Opening: Includes the meeting title and the meeting's location, time, and date
- Present members: The list of attending members should have full names and that person's title in the company
- Absent members: Should also include full names and title
- Approval of the agenda: This section confirms that the agenda was approved and distributed to members
- Approval of previous minutes: One of the first orders of business is the approval of the previous meeting's minutes
- Business from the previous meeting: After the last meeting minutes are approved, there will be a brief summary of the business that was discussed during the last meeting
- New business: The New Business Section will be the most lengthy and detailed. It should list each agenda item with a summary of what was discussed. You must include a description of the action, what decision was made and why, and major arguments for or against the motion
- Additions to the agenda: If any members bring up new business, this needs to be included in the meeting minutes
- Agenda for next meeting: List the topics set to be discussed at the next meeting
- Adjournment: End the meeting minutes document with the time the meeting ended and the date and time of the next meeting
Who Typically Writes Meeting Minutes?
In most corporations, the Secretary to the Board is usually tasked with taking notes and drafting the formal meeting minutes document. This job, however, can be completed by any of the board members. The person who takes the meeting minutes is sometimes referred to as the scribe, recorder, or notetaker.
Get Help with Writing Meeting Minutes
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