Minutes of meetings are a powerful follow-up resource for teams and an essential means to disseminate information throughout your organization.
In this article, we discuss what meeting minutes are, what their purpose is, and how to write them effectively. Plus, you will learn about four different meeting minutes templates that were created to help your team have more effective meetings. We’ve also included a list of essential things to include when writing minutes of meetings, so that no detail gets left behind.
- What are meeting minutes
- Why are they called meeting minutes
- Why are meeting minutes important
- Who is responsible for taking meeting minutes
- How to write meeting minutes following best practices
- Meeting minutes templates and examples
What are meeting minutes
Meeting minutes are a written record of the decisions that are made over the course of a meeting. They are applicable to any kind of group within a company, including boards of directors, leadership teams, and investors. They can also be referred to as ‘minutes of meetings’ (MoM).
At Fellow, we recommend minute-taking for any meeting that requires an official record. This written record or transcript can then be used to either inform team members who weren’t able to attend about what happened or to keep track of decisions and action items that can be revisited. Minutes from previous meetings can therefore be used in order to make future organizational decisions.
Some organizations that are usually required to record and summarize meeting minutes include non-profits, government entities, schools, public companies, and trade unions.
Why are they called meeting minutes
One interesting fact about meeting minutes is that the term “minutes” has nothing to do with time. In fact, it comes from the Latin term “minutia” (which means trifles or details). The term “meeting minutes” first appeared in the 18th century, directly from the Latin “minuta scriptura,” meaning “small notes.” In other words, meeting minutes are the details (or short meeting summary) of what happened during a meeting.
Why are meeting minutes important
Meeting minutes provide a historical record of the company’s discussions, decisions, and long-term planning. One of the benefits of minutes is that meeting attendees have the ability to use them as a record for future reference to understand what kinds of progression have taken place.
Apart from acting as an official record of the discussions and decisions, minutes of meetings can also provide legal protection for your organization. Many times, due diligence is captured in the minutes of a meeting. This can then be officiated and documented to confirm the ethical, fair practices of the organization.
Great meeting minutes start with a collaborative agenda
Are meetings being booked without a purpose or going completely off-topic? Fellow’s collaborative approach transforms meetings into productive work sessions you’ll want to attend.
Who is responsible for taking meeting minutes
Now, you might be wondering – who is responsible for taking meeting minutes? At some organizations (such as government entities and trade unions), the secretary is responsible for recording meeting minutes. However, if your team does not have a specific person for this, we suggest rotating the role of “minute taker” amongst meeting participants.
Alternatively, you can use a meeting minutes tool like Fellow to ensure that every meeting attendee contributes to the meeting notes. Fellow will generate an AI-generated transcript and AI meeting summary for all attendees at the end of the meeting.
How to write meeting minutes following best practices
Below are 8 tips to take better meeting minutes, including best practices for both the planning phase and the sorting stage after the meeting ends.
- Plan a meeting outline in advance
- Record the date, time, and names
- Write down the meeting purpose
- Use the agenda to track key points discussed
- Keep track of action items
- Decide on the next meeting date
- Leverage AI technology to create a meeting summary
- Share the meeting minutes promptly
1 Plan a meeting outline in advance
Using the template examples above or one of Fellow’s 500 meeting templates, you can create an outline with the main points to be discussed at the meeting. Preparing this in advance will reduce the confusion at the start of the meeting and ensure that you and your team can start off the meeting on the best foot. Using a meeting minutes template can save you a lot of time and energy. If you use the same template on a recurring basis this can also foster some familiarity. In a Harvard Business Review article by Steven G. Rogelberg, he highlights why meeting agendas matter so much:
“What matters is not the agenda itself but the relevance and importance of what’s on it, and how the leader facilitates discussion of the agenda items.”
2 Record the date, time, and names of the participants
Before you actually start writing your meeting minutes, note the date and time of the meeting. Seems like a no-brainer, but it’s worth a mention seeing as it’s so important to be able to go back to previous meetings and understand when they happened, what’s been accomplished, and what’s still outstanding.
The next step is to document the names of all of the participants and any other people who weren’t able to attend. Usually, at the beginning of the meeting, there’s some time dedicated to the acceptance or amendment to previous meeting minutes so you can take a look at who attended last time to have a draft version of an attendee list. Better yet, use the calendar invite to check names as participants join or enter the room.
Using a meeting management tool like Fellow saves meeting organizers a lot of time, since Fellow records the date, time, and meeting participants automatically.
3 Write down the meeting purpose
It’s pretty important that the “why” behind this meeting is documented and made obvious. In this part of the meeting minutes, try to be detailed in explaining why this meeting was called and what it’s trying to achieve. This is going to be especially useful for any individuals who were unable to attend the meeting and for anyone who is using the outcomes of this meeting to fuel decisions.
4 Use the agenda to track key points discussed
Write down the outcomes and decisions that come out of each agenda item, using your meeting agenda as a general outline. At Fellow, we recommend taking notes in bullet point format under each Talking Point in the product.
5 Keep track of action items
Productive meetings result in clear, actionable takeaways. As part of your meeting minutes process, record meeting action items in real time so that you can transcribe them with accuracy.
To ensure that these important takeaways aren’t lost, make sure they stand out in the meeting minutes. This might mean including a checkbox, bolding, or highlighting.
When using a meeting management tool like Fellow, action items will be automatically organized for you in a specific section of the meeting agenda.
6 Decide on the next meeting date
If you’re taking formal meeting minutes, it’s important to include when the next meeting is, with regard to this project or topic of discussion. This gives meeting attendees a general timeline of how long they have to complete the responsibilities that have been assigned.
Understanding when you’re meeting next will help you manage your time appropriately and prioritize all of your tasks. It’s also important to know the place of your meeting, whether it be online or in person.
7 Leverage AI technology to create a meeting summary and transcript
Taking meeting minutes can become a much more effective process with the help of artificial intelligence. If you’re responsible for taking meeting minutes, now is a good time to consider a meeting transcription tool. In Fellow, for instance, all your call recordings, transcriptions, and summaries are linked to every meeting and calendar, so everything is in one place.
8 Share the meeting minutes promptly
After the meeting ends, start by cleaning up your meeting minutes to make them as clear as possible. This might include proofreading supplemental context, expanding shorthand, or proofreading so that the notes are as clear as possible. Essentially, imagine a coworker reviewing these notes three months in the future, will they be able to understand what was discussed and the key decisions made? This will help avoid future headaches and misunderstandings.
Then, share your minutes of meeting! An article published by G2 articulates the importance of sending your meeting minutes out as soon as possible:
“Once the meeting is over, it’s time to tidy up your notes and distribute them to your team. The best time to do this is directly after the meeting while everything is fresh in your mind. This decreases the chance of mistakes and allows you to reach out to meeting participants if you have questions.”
Since your meeting minutes will serve as a record that will be referred to in the future, minutes need to be stored or filed in a way that is easy to access. This will depend on the preferences of your organization. You could store your meeting minutes in a shared drive using folders or use a meeting agenda software like Fellow, which automatically stores meeting minutes and organizes them by calendar event.
Fellow also gives you the ability to send out your post-meeting recap automatically, saving you lots of time spent sending meeting minutes after each meeting.
4 Meeting Minutes Templates
1 Formal Board Meeting Minutes Example
Formal meeting minutes are used to document big or official decisions that often require approval. These meeting notes use formal language and are structured with the purpose of being shared with all of the meeting participants afterwards.
Formal minutes are commonly used by nonprofits, governments, schools, and public companies. Most trade unions, schools, city and county governments model their meeting minutes based on Robert’s Rules of Order.
If you’re writing notes for a formal meeting, it’s important to document as much information as possible and keep the meeting format consistent from meeting to meeting.
It’s smart to use a meeting template for more formal conversations to give them the structure that you’re looking for. Organization of notes is key since you’ll be sharing the notes with everyone afterward.
Call to order
Facilitated by the ‘Chair of the Board’
- [Meeting facilitator] called to order the regular meeting of [Organization] at [time] on [date] in [location].
The secretary conducted a roll call. The following persons were present:
Approval of minutes
Before any official business can be conducted, the board must approve the minutes from the last meeting.
- [Secretary] read the minutes from the last meeting. The minutes were approved.
Items that the board has previously discussed that are ready for formal approval.
These items may be voted on, amended, tabled, moved to committee for consideration or postponed.
After all the open issues and new business have been discussed and documented, the meeting facilitator will adjourn the board meeting.
- [Meeting facilitator] adjourned at the meeting at [time meeting ended].
Submission and approval of minutes
Minute taker must submit the minutes for approval by the Board Chair or meeting facilitator.
- Minutes submitted by: [Name]
- Minutes approved by: [Name]
2 Informal Meeting Minutes Example
Informal meeting minutes serve as a quick reference to important topics that have been covered in your meeting, such as goals, obstacles, deadlines or ideas.
If your organization doesn’t require you to use a specific meeting minutes format, you can use and customize a simpler template. Contrary to a formal template, no one needs to have approved the minutes for this type of meeting. They serve to only document the key points and next steps.
Here’s an informal meeting minutes template you can use to record decisions at your team meetings:
Call to order
A meeting of [organization] was held at [location] on [date].
- Voting members in attendance included:
- Guests in attendance included:
- Members not in attendance included:
Approval of minutes
- A motion to approve the minutes of the previous [date] meeting was made by [name] and seconded by [name].
- [Report name] was presented by [name of presenter].
- [Report name] was presented by [name of presenter].
- Motion: Moved by [name] and seconded that [state the motion here]. The motion [carried or failed] with [number] in favour and [number] against.
- [Name of mover] moved that the meeting be adjourned, and this was agreed upon at [time of adjournment].
- Date of approval:
3 Board Meeting Minutes Template
Use this template to create an official record of the discussions and decisions made by the board of directors.
This template outlines the meeting details, such as name of meeting, date, and time. It also includes an outline of the attendees, key minutes or decisions from the last board meeting, and reports from officers, committees, or different board directors. Lastly, a space to note any solutions or next steps discussed, with specific assignees and an approximate timeframe for completion
Note the meeting type, date, and time.
- Name of meeting:
Note the attendees in the meeting.
- Presiding officers:
- Absent board directors:
- Other guests or staff members present:
Key meeting minutes and decisions from the last board meeting.
- Approval of the previous meeting’s minutes
- Unresolved action items from previous board meetings
Include reports from officers, committees, or different board directors.
- Agenda item 1
- Agenda item 2
- Agenda item 3
Note any solutions or next steps discussed, with specific assignees and an approximate timeframe for completion.
End the board meeting by documenting the following information:
- Date and time of the next board meeting
- The time when the meeting adjourns
- Secretary approval:
- President/Chairperson approval:
4 David Sacks’ SaaS Board Meeting Template
This template was curated by David Sacks (former COO at PayPal and founder of Yammer). If you’re a founder or executive running board meetings for your SaaS company, we recommend using it:
CEO Update [30 minutes]
Wins, challenges, learnings, and KPIs.
Sales Update [30 minutes]
ARR, deals, closed, objections, and forecast
Departmental Updates [20 minutes]
Product roadmap and updates from other departments.
Financials [10-20 minutes]
Gross margin, financial plans, and operational expenditure.
Team [10-20 minutes]
What areas have the greatest need for new hires?
Administrative Matters [5-10 minutes]
Housekeeping and administrative matters
What came out of this meeting?
Have fewer, more effective meetings with Fellow
Writing meeting minutes doesn’t need to be stressful. In fact, the whole purpose of them is to make your life less stressful by having the ability to go back and reference what was discussed and what the key outcomes were.
Refer back to this guide whenever you need some guidance on how to write effective meeting minutes, and don’t forget to try Fellow’s meeting minutes app to create official records of the discussions and action items generated during meetings.