The task being in charge of board of directors meeting minutes might seem like the most tedious and unrewarding task of your job description. However, board meeting minutes are critical for keeping a historical log of all the decisions, votes, motions and discussions that took place during the meeting. Moreover, they serve as an official and legal record of the meeting.
Minutes are typically used to track progress, outline future plans and point references. That’s why learning how to take effective minutes at a board meeting is essential and definitely worth the time and effort. To make sure you’re taking the most effective board minutes possible, we’ve prepared a complete guide that will help you understand what are the best practices for taking minutes and what are the steps involved with recording effective minutes for a meeting.
Get ready to spend some time planning before the meeting, take good notes during the meeting and write and distribute a follow-up email after the meeting containing a formal report.
What Are the Benefits of Board of Directors Meeting Minutes?
Before moving forward with helpful information on how to properly take meeting minutes, let’s first try to fully understand what are the benefits of going through the process of preparing, taking and sharing minutes.
Meeting minutes is not just a document proving that a board meeting actually took place. Their purpose goes beyond that.
- Board minutes are a legal record of what actually happened in the meeting, once approved. In the event of a lawsuit, minutes can be subpoenaed and board members can be held liable. If important details are omitted or recorded incorrectly, this could easily turn into a disaster for the organization and its board members.
- Board of directors meeting minutes serve as a reference point for future decision-making. They are a documented reminder of what was talked about during the meeting, who voted for what and who is responsible for upcoming tasks and projects.
- Sponsors or other funding sources might require access to minutes to determine how effectively the board is leading the organization towards its objectives. In other words, meeting minutes can turn into a determining factor for someone to financially support your project or organization. This is particularly valid for nonprofit organizations.
How to Take Meeting Minutes for Board Meetings
✔️ Step 1: Preparation
Every organization records their meeting minutes differently. Therefore, it’s important to learn how to take board meeting minutes by having a discussion with the board president about the format you are expected to use. You can also review any past meeting minutes to use as an example. Ask the board president for a copy of the meeting agenda, including attendees, guests or speakers.
✔️ Step 2: Taking Notes During the Board Meeting
What you can do is either type the minutes or write them longhand. To do so, you should use a good meeting minutes template that can assist you with maintaining organized minutes. There are a couple of things to remember when taking board of directors meeting minutes and those are:
- What information to record?
- How to present the information?
What to include in board of directors meeting minutes?
To take effective meeting minutes for a board meeting, you should include the following:
- Date of the meeting
- When was the meeting called to order
- Names of attendees and absentees
- Corrections / amendments to previous meeting minutes
- Current agenda additions
- Whether a quorum is present
- Taken or rejected motions
- Voting and outcomes of the vote
- Actions taken or agreed to be taken
- Upcoming steps
- Open discussion
- Next meeting date and time
Make sure you include all relevant information in each section shown above. For each agenda item, you have to include a short statement of action taken by the board, along with a summary of major arguments.
Remember to record discussions objectively. No personal remarks should be featured on the meeting minutes. You can do this by avoiding adjectives and adverbs. Your language and tone should be clear, straightforward, unambiguous and complete.
Minutes represent an official and legal record of the board meeting. Therefore, they can be used as legal evidence of the facts they report. They should accurately reflect action, intentions and votes that happened during the meeting. Therefore, you should do your best, as a minutes note-taker, to keep the information basic to avoid any legal complications that might put the organization at disadvantage in case of any legal proceedings. For instance, you should use names only when recording motions and seconds.
One another thing to remember is to write the formal record of the board meeting right after it’s finished and everything is still fresh in your mind. Prepare the record as soon as possible after the meeting is over.
Helpful Tips for Taking Board of Directors Meeting Minutes
- Use a meeting minutes template
- Check off attendees the moment they arrive
- Circulate an attendance list
- Record motions, decisions and actions when they occur
- Don’t be afraid to ask for clarifications if needed
- Write clear and brief notes and avoid sentences or lengthy wording
- Use the same verb tense throughout the meeting record
What are some Common Mistakes when Recording Board of Directors Meeting Minutes?
- Ambiguous description of board actions
- Not documenting a quorum
- Including information that can potentially harm the board in a legal case
- Not providing the minutes after a meeting or lengthy delays
- Not filing or managing documents
- Failing to get signature on important documents that serve as a legal or official record
✔️ Step 3: Writing the Official Board of Directors Meeting Minutes
To get a full scope of the meeting, make sure you review the agenda and add notes for clarification. Also, make sure you review actions, motions, votes and any decisions. Once you’ve reviewed everything, edit the record so that the meeting minutes are straightforward, clear and easy to read and follow.
If there are any meeting handouts or documents that were referred to during the meeting, make sure they are attached to the final copy that will be distributed. Don’t summarize their contents in the minutes.
✔️ Step 4: Filing and Sharing the Meeting Minutes
When you are done with the meeting minutes, it’s your responsibility as a secretary or designated board of directors meeting minutes taker to make them official by having the board president sign them.
Your responsibilities don’t end here. You have to develop a storing system which is aligned by your organization’s by-laws and protocols. It’s also a good idea to have back-up copies either printed and stored in a folder at your office or on a separate hard drive.
When it comes to sharing minutes, you have to first make sure that the president has approved them. You can distribute them either in print or online via email.
Board Meeting Minutes Template (by Mombit)
Taking meeting minutes is essential to preserve and reflect the true intentions of the board. They also serve as an official and legal record of the meeting. Therefore, the task of taking, preserving and distributing the minutes should be taken seriously. From documenting discussions to important votes or follow-up tasks and assignments, a lot is definitely going on in a board meeting. That’s why meeting minutes are so essential – they can serve as a reference point for future discussions and provide information to those who were not able to attend. They are, most importantly, an official document.
Hopefully, your board minutes will never be used as evidence in a court of law. If they are, however, if you properly took them and used the guidelines in this article, you board can rest assured that the minutes are 100% accurate and truly reflect the integrity, intentions and board business as a whole.
If you’re considering using a meeting management tool for your next business meeting or board of directors meeting, try using Mombit. Mombit is a free meeting management software with built-in meeting minutes which can be filled out and distributed easily after the meeting. Moreover, with Mombit, you can track action items, attend as many meetings as you can and calculate the ROI of your meeting.
Happy minutes taking!