Definition of Taking Meeting Minutes

Effective organization is critical to the usefulness of meeting minutes.
Effective organization is critical to the usefulness of meeting minutes. (Image: XiXinXing/XiXinXing/Getty Images)

Meeting minutes are an organized record of the participants in a meeting and the topics discussed. Minutes serve as a useful reference of discussions and decisions, as well as a supporting document for internal recommendations.

Items Included

The opening of meeting minutes includes a list of participants. It also notes the date, time and setting of the meeting. As the meeting goes along, topics are presented for discussion, and sometimes voted or decided upon. The follow-up minutes reference the participants engaged in each topic. The minutes also note the ideas presented for discussion and who presented each key thought. Votes or decisions, along with directed action steps, are also included in minutes.

Types of Meetings

Participants in informal work group or committee meetings often take their own notes. One member may even distribute a review of the meeting to other participants. However, organized and structured meeting minutes are normally only used for more formal gatherings. Minutes are typically kept for organizational committee meetings, board meetings, governmental agency or office meetings and public meetings. A secretary or administrative staff person usually takes notes and prepared the minutes.

Reference Use

Members of work groups or committees often use meeting minutes as a reference. The minutes guide each person involved on their roles in executing decisions made. In collaborative settings, minutes also help leaders hold each person accountable for his role. If a team member fails to carry out an agreed-upon action, he may get reprimanded by a leader. Minutes of government or public organization meetings also meet the obligation of public bodies to convey information to the populations they serve and to provide a record of official business.

Documentation Use

In some cases, meeting minutes are also used as a support document. Organizational committees often discuss problems, resolutions and actions, and then make a formal recommendation to a larger board or body. The minutes are often attached to the submission to demonstrate the conversations engaged in by the committee. In a college, for instance, schools or educational program departments typically submit advisory committee meeting minutes in support of curriculum proposals.

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