Board meeting minutes hold incredible value. They not only provide a legal document representing strong corporate governance, but are used to summarize the topics and tasks and serve as a key reference for future meetings and decisions.
In practice, taking board meeting minutes can seem complicated. But it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re a newly appointed note taker or are seasoned in the task, learn how to produce clear, concise and valuable meeting minutes with our free template and best practices guide.
If taking board meeting minutes is fairly new to you, it can be hard to know where to start. But there are specific steps you can take before, during, and after the meeting.
Below is a quick summary of the basics but if you need further guidance, see our detailed step-by-step guide to how to take minutes at a board meeting.
Take the time to understand your role and the board policies to get an idea of what’s expected of you. Review Robert’s Rules of Order and ask if there is a meeting template to use. Gather all the supplies you’ll need prior to the meeting including the meeting agenda and your laptop or pen and paper – so you aren’t scrambling.
Start by recording the attendees and absentees including any guests. Use the meeting agenda as a guide for the information you’ll need to record.
For each agenda item requiring a decision, be sure to note:
Before participants disperse, ensure you’ve retrieved copies of any reports presented, or know who to follow up with to obtain them.
Transcribe your notes and review all documents to write the good copy of your meeting minutes. Then you’ll need to circulate them. Some boards choose to distribute their finalized board meeting minutes via email or hard copy. However, it’s most secure to use board portal software. Be sure to back-up and store the meeting minutes in adherence with your board bylaws.
A board meeting minute template can make note taking much easier and will help you save time by knowing what sections and information will need to be completed.
For example, a template can help you check off attendee status (in person, on phone, or absent), fill in dates and fill in meeting location. You can also add in key topics from the agenda to ensure minutes are organized, clear and well-scribed.
Don’t have a template? Download the Aprio board meeting minute template here.
Now that you know the basics, here are our tips to take more effective board meeting minutes.
Prepare yourself for the specific board meeting you’ll be taking notes for. This will guide you to know what will be pertinent to summarize and make the task much easier. Give yourself ample time to review previous board meeting minutes as well as the upcoming agenda. Be sure to know the upcoming meeting purpose – is it a regular or special meeting, who’s expected to attend, what will be discussed and any documents that will be reviewed or circulated.
Good minutes are a summary of what happened and was agreed upon, not a record of everything that was said. So, skip the lengthy description and keep minutes a short and succinct summary of facts and actions. For example, “we appointed [this person], to [this role title], for [this term], on [this date]”.
Notice the lack of adjectives, adverbs, emotion or colourful language. It takes practice and diligent editing for those new to note-taking. Make sure to double-check for:
Meeting minutes need to be brief, fact-based and unbiased. Follow these guidelines to make sure your minutes are objective:
Board meeting minutes serve as a record for actions and resolutions. One of the most important tasks for minute taking is to make it clear what assignments, delegations, and deadlines have come out of the meeting to hold board members accountable.
It can be useful to specially format resolutions or follow up actions in a table with bolding or underlining. Each resolution should be easily understood without explanation or context from the rest of the minutes. Take it a step further and summarize the meeting resolutions at the end of the document for easy recall later.
Meetings move fast and cover a lot of ground. If you miss something or things are unclear to you, immediately seek clarification so you can record accurately what was decided or what the next step is. Sometimes legal or industry language may be unfamiliar, so be sure to stop and ask if you aren’t sure.
Writing and editing the minutes as soon as you can while the topics are still fresh in your mind will make note-taking easier. It also ensures the meeting minutes are circulated to board members for approval in a timely manner when their memories are also fresh and assignments and deadlines are most relevant.
Now that your minutes are finalized, the task of preparing minutes for circulation – including obtaining signatures from the board secretary and president will take you to the finish line. Company bylaws will dictate how minutes are backed-up and filed and the expectation in which minutes should be circulated to directors. Consider using board portal software for the secure and convenient distribution of notes and supporting documents.
With so much value contained in meeting minutes, it’s expected that a fair amount of time and effort goes into creating them. But Aprio’s board portal software can help streamline your board administration effort.
Meeting minutes are stored in a central library that’s easily searchable, making the task of gaining approvals secure and easy. And with a convenient cloning feature, admins can easily duplicate meeting folders and documents to save time and ensure consistency with board packs. See how Aprio can save you time and effort by contacting us today for a custom demo.
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Karen Peacy, Director of Customer Relations
Karen has over 20 years of board administration experience in various industries including credit unions, forestry, software, and the sports sector. She takes real pleasure in supporting and training our clients to make their jobs easier and more efficient.
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