How To Write Effective
San Shway Wynn
2nd February 2013
• Minutes are the official record of an
• It is crucial that they are accurate
since they are the legal record of the
proceedings and actions of the
How To Write Effective Meeting
• Why meeting minutes are important
• What's involved with meeting minutes?
Why meeting minutes are
Decisions made (motions made, votes, etc.)
Next steps planned
Identification and tracking of action items
When a meeting’s outcomes impact other
collaborative activities or projects within the
• Minutes can serve to notify (or remind)
individuals of tasks assigned to them and/or
What’s involved with meeting
• There are essentially five steps involved with
Record taking - at the meeting
Minutes writing or transcribing
Distributing or sharing of meeting minutes
Filing or storage of minutes for future reference
• A well-planned meeting helps ensure
effective meeting minutes.
• If the Chair and the Secretary or
minutes-taker work together to ensure the
agenda and meeting are well thought out, it
makes minute taking much easier.
• Depending on the meeting structure and
the tools you use, the minutes-taker could
work with the Chair to create a document
format that works as an agenda and
minutes outline as well.
Name of the meeting
Date and Time
Exact location of the meeting
A list of expected attendees
Expected meeting duration
Clearly stated objectives of the
An agenda item to approve the
minutes of the previous meeting
An agenda item to handle matters
arising from the previous
meeting’s minutes (actions that
haven’t been completed for
An agenda item at the end to
handle AOB – Any Other Business
Each agenda item should be
Each agenda item should have a time
allotted to it
Where you have a speaker, their
name should be next to the agenda
item so they know they are running
that item of the agenda.
An agenda should be circulated in
advance (ideally the day before)
As chair (or secretary) you should
bring enough printed copies of the
agenda to the meeting and print-outs
of the last meeting’s minutes for
The whole agenda should be simple
and clear for all participants to
understand, without extensive prior
2. Record taking - what should
Before you start taking notes, it’s important to
understand the type of information you need to
record at the meeting.
Your organization may have required content and
a specific format that you’ll need to follow, but
generally, meeting minutes usually include the
-Date, time and place of the meeting
-Name of the presiding officer and secretary
-Names of the meeting participants and those unable to
-Acceptance or corrections/amendments to previous
3. The Minutes Writing Process
• Once the meeting is over, it’s time to pull
together your notes and write the minutes.
- Write the minutes as soon after the meeting as possible while
everything is fresh in your mind.
• Review your outline and if necessary, add
additional notes or clarify points raised.
• Check to ensure all decisions, actions and
motions are clearly noted. Check for
- include a short statement of each action taken by the board
and a brief explanation of the rationale for the decision
– when there is extensive deliberation before passing a motion,
summarize the major arguments
– Edit to ensure brevity and clarity, so the minutes are easy
• Decisions made about each agenda item,
– Actions taken or agreed to be taken
– Next steps
– Voting outcomes – e.g., (if necessary, details
regarding who made motions; who seconded and
approved or via show of hands, etc.)
– Motions taken or rejected
– Items to be held over
– New business
– Next meeting date and time
• Be objective.
– Write in the same tense throughout
– Avoid using people’s names except for
motions or seconds. This is a business
document, not about who said what.
– Avoid inflammatory or personal observations.
The fewer adjectives or adverbs you use,
– If you need to refer to other documents,
attach them in an appendix or indicate
where they may be found. Don’t rewrite
their intent or try to summarize them.
What NOT TO INCLUDE
• The opinion or interpretation of the secretary
• Judgmental phrases e.g. “heated debate” “valuable
• Discussion: Minutes are a record of what was done at
the meeting, not what was said at the meeting
• Motions that were withdrawn
• Name of seconder is unnecessary
4. Distributing or Sharing
• As the official “minutes-taker” or Secretary, your
role may include dissemination of the minutes.
• However, before you share these, be sure that
the Chair has reviewed and either revised and/or
approved the minutes for circulation.
keep a record
You don’t need to note every word.
Just keep a record as follows:
• Names of everyone who was there
(and apologies from those who
• Key decisions made
• Actions agreed
• Next steps
5. Filing/Storage of Meeting
• Most committees and Boards review and either
approve or amend the minutes at the beginning
of the subsequent meeting.
• Once you’ve made any required revisions, the
minutes will then need to be stored for future
• Some organizations may store these online
(e.g., in Google docs or SkyDrive) and also
back these up on an external hard drive.
• You may also need to print and store hard
copies as well or provide these to a staff
member or Chair for filing.
Standard Meeting Minute
• Please note that since the format, style
and content requirements for meeting
minutes varies depending on the
organization and the type of committee or
• Meeting minutes normally include these
elements as standard;
– • Time, date and venue.
– • Attendees and apologies from
• • Key outcomes from the meeting - decisions
made, actions agreed and open issues.
Example of Minutes Format
Name of Organization:
Purpose of Meeting: