Meeting Minutes: What you need to know

Meeting minutes are an official record of a meeting for a group of members
Written by Smartandstuck

Meeting minutes are an official record of a meeting for a group of members. They are also sources of information to inform absentees of what happened during the meeting and can be used as references for future decision-making. According to Rajendra Pal and Korlahalli, “Minutes are the official records of the proceedings of a meeting.” It has to be devoid of unnecessary commentary.

Minute writing is a skill which can be learned, and thoroughly enjoyed. There can be great satisfaction in producing a succinct, accurate summary of what happened at a meeting, and thereby enabling others to grasp the understanding of the meeting. 

See also: 7 rules to become successful according Zimbabwe’s richest man, Strive Masiyiwa

Checklist for writing a good Minute:

  1. Understanding the functions and importance of minutes: Understanding and recognizing the functions and the importance of minutes helps one to accept the value of developing skills in the taking and writing of minutes.

Every set of minutes can have some or all of the following functions

  • Provide  an accurate record of decisions taken, which are then the official authorities for specific actions
  • Provide an accurate record of recommendations made and of the principal points made in the discussions preceding them, to be used as part of the information on which other bodies base decisions.
  • Making information available to members of the meeting and also absentees
  • Provide the formal record of what took place at meetings to the institution  (for use by present and future members, and for the Archives)
  • Minutes are important elements within the decision-making processes at many levels of a working environment or in the corporate world. It is therefore critical that minutes at all levels provide an accurate record.

2. Understanding what you are writing about: Know what you are about. In writing a minute, it is imperative to understand the subject matter being discussed during the meeting. This will help the writer of the minute better appreciate the points raised and articulate the focus of the said meeting and inform the person taking the minute on the best style to choose.

3. Knowing the agenda: It’s a good idea to refresh your memory of the agenda by reading carefully through it shortly before the meeting. Not only does this remind you of the issues, but also it helps to remind you of the details of the layout and contents. This can be useful if the Chair or a member is searching for something in the agenda which they cannot immediately locate (“I know it’s there somewhere!”)

4. Recording attendances, apologies, invitees: The standard format for the preparation of minutes template provides the correct lay-out of attendees and apologies in your minutes.

5. Record any apologies received in advance of the meeting, and advise the Chair of these before the meeting starts.

6. Record attendees either by ticking them off against the list of members on your agenda, or on an attendance list. Be careful about this relatively easy task – members can be very sensitive about being left off the list of attendees, and about their titles and names being absolutely right!

7. Record the names of any invitees to the meeting and indicate which item/s they attended for.

How to take minutes 

  1. The most important skill in taking minutes is listening carefully to what is said, and mentally sorting the wheat from the chaff as you take notes. (that is, recording only points of substance). You’ll have to do this mental sorting sooner or later, so try to train yourself to do it in the course of the meeting. If you tape-record the minutes or take them down verbatim in shorthand to avoid the mental sorting at the meeting, you’ll effectively have to go through the whole meeting again before you can do any sorting (potentially very time-consuming)
  2. As you listen, write down briefly all points which seem to have substance. If you’re well prepared and understand the issues, you’ll find it easier to recognise these points. If you’re in doubt, as inexperienced officers often are, err on the side of caution and record the point. You can then decide later whether it needs to be included.
  3. Use initials of speakers (as far as possible) to identify who made the point. While you won’t normally use names in the minutes you may occasionally wish to refer back to a speaker for clarification of a point made. It can also be useful if there’s any dispute later over who said what.
  4. By all means use your own form of shorthand in making notes, to reduce the amount of writing you have to do – initials, short forms of words, symbols and the like, as long as you’ll understand after the meeting what you’ve written.
  5. Keep careful track of any motions moved during the meeting, as you may be asked to remind members of them by reading them out. If a member moves a motion which is longer than you can readily record, ask that he/she give it to you in writing to ensure that you get it right. If a motion is amended, keep careful track of the new motion. It’s useful to record motions in CAPITALS and perhaps to highlight them in color, so that if you have to flick back several pages of notes you can quickly find them.
  6. If you miss a point, don’t panic, or you may miss even more points as the meeting moves on! If you have a vague grasp of the lost point, you can always ask the Chair or the speaker after the meeting.
  7. If you don’t understand a point made, despite having listened carefully to it, ask through the Chair for clarification. Chances are that others won’t have understood it either.


The piece has digested more on meeting minutes and how one can write well structured minute of any meeting. The write-up discussed the checklist for anyone to write a good minute. I also touched on how you take a minute at a meeting. Careful analyze my points and put it into practice which I am comfident you will not regret.



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