glossary


Published: December 13, 2022

Minutes

Minutes are a reference document for board members and others who weren’t present during the meeting that captures key information from the meeting. For certain organisations they are a form of legal document and can also be used as evidence in cases of litigation since they contain facts about the decisions made by board members. Minutes must be brief but still capture key information that will help board members meet their legal requirements.

Minutes: Frequently Asked Questions

Minutes are a document that captures key information from a meeting. The information is captured by someone listening to the conversation and working to reduce it to a summary of key points from the meeting (decisions, attendance, discussions etc...) to make it easily readable and understandable.

If you are just beginning to take minutes it can be a daunting task. But practice makes perfect. If you don't have a lot of meetings that you can attend one way to get better at minute taking is by searching online for public meetings where minutes have been taken. For example local councils often publish livestreams or recordings of their meetings and the final minutes. So watch the meeting livestream of recording and take minutes of it. Then compare your minutes with those that were published by the minute taker so you can see things you missed or improvements you could make. We also offer a [free minute taking course](/courses/minute-taking/).

A great place to source meeting minutes samples is from organisations that are legally required to publish their minutes publicly. The most common organisations that are legally required to publish minutes for public viewing are local councils. You can search online on your local councils website or you can contact the council to ask if they have minutes of the recent council meetings available.

Practice makes perfect and there is no substitute for actually taking minutes in real meetings. A great way to get practice taking minutes is to find meetings that have been recorded and where the offical minutes are available to the public. Take minutes of the recorded meeting yourself and then compare them to the official minutes from that meeting once you are done.

The process of taking minutes is simple, but takes practice to become good at. Remember you are aiming to record a summary of what happened in the meeting not a full transcript. Here are some brief tips on how to improve:

1. You don't need to capture every word. You are not writing a transcript.

2. Record key discussion points and decisions/resolutions.

3. Avoid writing names unless recording motions.

4. If using names, instead of writing full names, use initials.

5. Use a template each time you take minutes.

6. Ensure you always pre-plan your minute taking before the meeting.

Further Resources: Minutes

Flying Minutes

It’s not in the Tea Leaves, It’s in the Minutes (Video)

Meeting Minutes, An Essential Guide for Directors

The Importance of Getting Your Agendas and Minutes Right

Streamlining the Work of the Board

The Fundamentals of Good Governance, Post-Hayne

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Better Boards connects the leaders of Australasian non-profit organisations to the knowledge and networks necessary to grow and develop their leadership skills and build a strong governance framework for their organisation.

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