As your organization grows, the number of discussion topics and action items grows along with it. Even with meeting agendas in place to help teams organize what they need to discuss, how are teams supposed to be able to remember those to-do tasks post-call?

We’re introducing you to meeting minutes. 

Using meeting minutes, you enable meeting attendees to organize action items following the call, stay accountable, and even save time trying to recount previous meeting discussions. It’s also a great solution for when stakeholders may not be able to participate in a meeting but still need to stay informed on the project at hand.

What are meeting minutes? 

Meeting minutes are essentially the written-down recording of your meeting. Typically, one or two people in each meeting are assigned to take the minutes. Used consistently and written thoroughly, meeting minutes are a powerful way to help teams follow the meeting agenda, recall meeting details post-meeting, and reflect on discussion topics in the future. 

In large organizations, meeting minutes are especially common for upper management and board of directors meetings. While most meetings don’t “officially” require having minutes recorded, we recommend using them as often as possible. Whether you’re having a one-on-one with your manager or running a presentation with key stakeholders, taking minutes helps attendees focus during the meeting and allows them to look back on what was discussed at a later date.

Make it official

Create official records of the meeting discussions and action items and save time with Fellow’s meeting minutes templates. Try it now!

7 details to include in your meeting minutes

1 Date and time of the meeting

As obvious as it sounds, this is an important thing to record in your minutes. Especially when dealing with time-sensitive projects, noting the date and time of your meeting can help you build a timeline of events. From here, you can build out the start and end date of specific project activities and measure their status at each point along the way. 

Mentioning the date and time in your notes is also one of the best ways to organize multiple meeting minutes reports historically. 

2 Names of the participants

Knowing who was in the meeting is an essential part of keeping the project on task. By connecting action items with the people assigned to complete them, you ensure accountability for the completion of those tasks in future meetings. 

Tracking participants is also beneficial for managing communications to stakeholders. If you can see that a key stakeholder wasn’t able to attend, the appropriate manager can create a plan to communicate the meeting details in another way or share the meeting minutes with the stakeholder after the call.

3 Purpose of the meeting

So you already know who is there and when everyone met together, but why did they all meet? This “why” is the purpose of your meeting, and it’s incredibly important for tracking project success. 

Tracking the purpose of your meeting also makes you more conscious about the real need for them. Finding that the meetings you’re holding don’t really have purpose? Cancel them. Your time is going to be much more productive spent almost anywhere other than in a meeting with no purpose!

4 Agenda items and topics discussed

A meeting with a solid purpose will easily produce a list of agenda items or topics to be discussed. Having trouble thinking of what you need to discuss in your call? See the point above, where your meeting may not actually have a purpose. If so, re-evaluate and come back to this point when you have a goal in mind.

With your goal, think through the various concerns you need immediate answers for, and those that might be better to hold off for other meetings. Keep your agenda items tied closely to the purpose of the meeting, and keep them concise. If you feel like you need extra time to go through certain topics, consider booking another meeting specifically for that focus area. 

Having a narrow area of focus in each meeting is often the better way to delve deeper into a topic. However, you’ll see in the meeting minute templates below that there may be some flexibility in how you approach this, depending on what the goal of your meeting actually is!

5 Action items

From each agenda item above, you should create one action item. Think of this action item as the purpose that needs to come from each discussion point. Some action items you may know need completion before the meeting, and others can be open for discussion between meeting attendees. Action items could be:

  • Deciding what needs to be done during the meeting (for example, getting management approval on the budget)
  • Deciding what needs to be done immediately after the meeting (for example, sending a follow-up email to the client)
  • Deciding what needs to be done before the next meeting (for example, researching the next stage of the project)
  • Deciding what needs to be included in the next meeting (for example, making a decision on vendors)
  • Deciding what needs to be put on hold or reprioritized
  • Deciding who is going to do it all!

6 Next meeting date and place

Think of each meeting as a stepping stone to the next one. As you’re skipping through each meeting, you’re helping yourself and your team complete milestones. The end goal? That’s flexible. Maybe you’re working on a project with a fixed end date, or maybe you have a more subjective goal to just improve your professional experience.

Regardless, the next meeting is crucial. Knowing what you’re going to need soon down the line will ensure that you can start planning for it now. Participants will likely have action items that need to be completed before the next meeting, so they can think of it as their due date. Again, this date and place is important to include for anyone who didn’t attend the meeting as they may have been assigned project tasks that are due for the next meeting. Keeping track of these assignments, requirements, and due dates will allow everyone to prepare for the next gathering.

7 Documents to be included in the report

This point tends to be the most forgotten, but it’s vital to the meeting as well. If there are any documents—like plans, budgets, vision boards, etc.—that you used as reference in your meeting agenda, make sure to note them in your minutes. 

These documents contain important information and data that may have been discussed during the call. Making note of them is helpful for meeting participants who may want to look back on the documents, or for those who weren’t able to attend the meeting and want to keep up to speed. 

4 meeting minute template examples:

1 Board meeting minutes:

The board meeting minutes template is best used when upper management teams need to create official meeting minutes. Typically, there are more topics that are discussed from a high-level point of view, and it’s important to track attendance as directors on the board usually hold significant power in decision making. Often, the goal of this type of meeting is to reach mutual agreement on organizational goals and directives. For this type of meeting, your minutes should include:

  • Meeting details
  • Roll call
  • Old business 
  • New business 
  • Action steps
  • Closing

2 Formal meeting minutes

Board of directors meetings are one type of formal meetings. But other examples of formal meetings include annual shareholder meetings, financial review meetings, strategy meetings, and sometimes even certain training meetings. Use the formal meeting minutes template when there’s a need to record the information discussed in the meeting to share with others who are not able to attend (such as lower-level employees or other shareholders). When following this template, you’ll make sure to include:

  • Call to order
  • Roll call
  • Approval of minutes
  • Open issues
  • New business
  • Adjournment
  • Submission and approval of minutes

3 Informal meeting minutes 

Informal meetings don’t “officially” need meeting minutes, but we still recommend taking them. Examples of an informal meeting may be a smaller team brainstorming session, most team training, or quick announcements. These meetings tend to be shorter and cover more narrow topics. By following the informal meeting minutes template, you’ll need to include:

  • Meeting objective
  • Talking points
  • Action items

Informal Meeting Minutes [Example]

  • Meeting attendees
  • Date

1. Meeting objective

State the purpose of your meeting: what are you planning to accomplish?

2. Talking points

  • New talking point
  • New talking point

3. Action items

  • New action item, due date, and assignee
  • New action item, due date, and assignee

4 Basic meeting minutes 

Basic meetings can be considered almost any other meeting. Think school council meetings, meetings with external organizations, or any other kind of meeting that’s relevant to your role. The basic meeting minutes template is the classic template, and can be adapted to most circumstances. When in doubt, aim to include these in your minutes:

  • Call to order
  • Attendees
  • Approval of minutes
  • Reports 
  • Main motions
  • Adjournment
  • Secretary
  • Date of approval 

Parting advice 

Keeping your meeting on time and on topic, and ensuring it’s aligned with a purpose can be challenging in itself. Then, making sure your meeting is recorded in detail can be an additional effort. 

Don’t let this additional effort be an obstacle to better-run meetings. 

By using the short and sweet meeting minutes templates above, your meetings will become more efficient, well organized, and better managed so projects are completed and people are held accountable.