Writing style – Person and tense
There is no rigid format or style for Minutes, just some conventions. The key issue is that the Minutes should form a clear record of what took place.
Minutes are usually written in the past tense, using reported speech
It is best if they are written objectively, recording what happens. For example;-
“It was agreed that Richard Salam should write a report on ABC, and present it at the next meeting “
You might insert an action note in bold, so actions are easily picked up,
Action – RS to report on ABC at next meeting
Or you could say
“John Jones asked Richard Salam to prepare a report on ABC to present to the next meeting “
Action – RS report on ABC at next meeting
Even if there has been a long discussion on a point, perhaps even an argument, you do not record all of that. Wait for the point to be settled and then summarise the outcome. At the end of a long discussion and some argument you might say;-
“After some debate it was decided to purchase the equipment “
The Chair may want to consider this kind of matter before the minutes are distributed. You just make your record, and then take the Chair’s advice whether that is how they want to proceed.
- Make preparations in advance. For the Minute taker it can be difficult to keep up with events that take place if the meeting is moving along rapidly. Prepare an agenda and an outline Minute document. Then just make notes against the outline, which you can complete later from memory. Take notes by hand, or if your skills are up to it, use a PC or tablet. You can even record the meeting to help get the details right.
- If this is part of a series of meetings, ensure there is a copy of the previous minutes available.
- Note the expected delegates prior to the meeting, then tick them off when they arrive, or send their apologies
- Jot notes on your minute template as events unfold. They will jog your memory later. Make sure you record the decision or conclusion. If you are not sure what that was, ask for clarification before the meeting proceeds to the next point, or check with the Chair straight after the meeting.
- Finalise the Minutes immediately after the meeting, so you don’t forget anything important.
- Use the same tense and person throughout the document. Include a brief rationale or short statement for each decision made, or action taken.
- Be factual and objective. It is best not to make personal comments or observations.
- Only use individual people’s names when you are recording voting activity. Otherwise the meeting is making the decisions.
- Record all business decisions
- Always remember this is a business document
Distribution and filing of the minutes
Ask the Chair to formally review and approve the Minutes before you distribute them. If the meeting and culture of the company are formal, it might be wise to print a hard copy, and get it signed by the Chair. Then you can distribute the minutes.
Ask the Chair whether they want to distribute the Minutes, or if they want you to do it . You may want to create a pdf document for security reasons if you are distributing the minutes electronically.
The method of distribution you use will depend on which business tools are used by your company .You might distribute hard copies, or distribute them electronically,
Or you might store them in the cloud for access by delegates, send them by email, share them on google docs, or even use One Note or Evernote.
If corrections are needed, you should record them, and note them on the next meeting agenda if this is a series of meetings. If not, distribute the corrections required to attendees.
If you had the Chair sign a hard copy, file it.