Why and How to Use Board Meeting Minutes

Board meeting minutes are an essential component of board discussions and decisions. Below, we’ll look at how best to use them before we give you an example of what a meeting minutes template looks like.

What are meeting minutes?

On its surface, a minutes is nothing more than a written record of the points discussed at a company’s board meeting. But, however simple they may look, minutes play a key function in the life of a corporation. Any board of directors’ meeting minutes serves two broad purposes:

  1. internally, it helps establish a history of the decisions and actions taken by the company’s board of directors; and
  2. externally, it functions as a legally binding document that may be brought forward at any time to support claims and clarify facts related to the board’s actions.

For company purposes, minutes of meeting decisions help drive action through accountability. They clarify the outcome of a meeting and the recommended actions assigned to different board members. When the responsibility for tasks is clear, there’s a greater incentive for a member to discharge themselves of the task.

Legally, the minutes offer a layer of protection, showing how decisions were arrived at and serving as proof that the board or the corporation complied with national and state laws and that proper protocols were in place.

How to take minutes at a board meeting

Although they are generally straightforward and easy to draft, it’s important to know the essentials of how to take meeting minutes before you start the meeting. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Write in an objective voice. No matter how well the board members know each other, the minutes is meant to be an official document written in an impersonal tone. Use formal language.
  • Determine who is to be the minutes-taker in advance. This improves the quality of the minutes by ensuring that the person responsible can remain focused on their task from the very beginning.
  • Keep the main points of the meeting in mind. This will help the minutes-taker draft a concise and to-the-point minutes.

What information to include in a meeting minutes

Some facts are more important than others – never let your minutes lack the following:

  • meeting date and start and end time
  • meeting venue
  • an attendance list, and, if relevant, a list of absences
  • meeting agenda
  • outcomes of decisions and votes

The meeting agenda provides an effective standpoint from which to structure the board of directors meeting minutes format. Using a board portal, you are able to create an agenda for the meeting detailing the main points under discussion and then use it to format your minute. 

Through the portal, you can prepare your minutes directly on the board panel, taking relevant notes while the meeting is ongoing. This not only simplifies the minutes-drafting process, but also ensures greater accuracy of the notes taken, as you don’t have to rely on your memory once the discussion has already ended.

What to leave out of the minutes

The minutes is concerned with the broad issues under discussion and the outcomes arrived at. As such, you should avoid including particular information such as:

  • individual members’ opinions and statements
  • words of praise or any personal comments exchanged
  • how specific members voted
TIP: keep it short and to the point. Use formal language and an impersonal tone.

Meeting minutes templates – why they matter

Don’t forget: board meeting minutes are different from transcripts. Where transcripts are lengthy and take time to redact and read through, board of directors’ meeting minutes present the key facts of a board meeting such as:

  • who attended the meeting or who were absent
  • the main issue or issues under consideration
  • results of the participants’ discussions or votes on given issues

To prevent straying from the point or adding unnecessary information, it’s useful to follow a predefined board meeting minutes template. 

Meeting minutes example

As a rule, a board of directors meeting template is divided in sections consisting of:

  1. The opening (date, time and place, as well as a list of attendees and absentees)
  2. The agenda, which may include:
    1. Old business: the continuation of issues from previous meetings. A typical instance here is a request for approval of the previous meeting’s minutes.
    2. New business: any new items on the agenda that are not part of previous discussions.
  3. Reports: here note is taken of any reports brought to the board members’ attention regarding the day’s agenda.
  4. Closing: includes time of adjournment and the signature of the minutes’ drafter. Here the outcome of the meeting and recommended actions may also be noted down.

Below you can check a couple of sample meeting minutes. Use them for reference, but don’t forget to adapt according to the specific needs of your company/meeting.

Meeting Minutes for [Company Annual Meeting]

MEETING DETAILS

Location: [Location]

Meeting Facilitator: [Chairman Name]

Secretary: [Secretary Name]

Date: April 30 2021 Time: 11:00 AM

ATTENDEES

Attendee 1, Attendee 2, Attendee 3, Attendee 4, Attendee 5

ABSENT

Absentee 1, Absentee 2

PREVIOUS MEETINGS MINUTES

The minutes for the previous meeting were reviewed and approved.

APPROVAL OF AGENDA

The agenda for this meeting was distributed and approved.

REPORTS

Report #1: [Annual Expenses Report]
Details: [Details About Annual Expenses Report]

ADJOURNMENT

The meeting ended at 12:15 PM.

Minutes submitted by: ____________________ Print Name: [Secretary Name]

Approved by: ________________________ Print Name: [Chairman Name]

Helpful tools for effective board meeting minutes

Whether for online or in-presence meetings, board management software has become an essential resource for big and small companies alike. Among the many features offered by these portals is the ability to take meeting minutes easily and efficiently. This is done by integrating the several aspects of meeting organization – typically, a board portal helps to:

  • define the discussion agenda through the meeting panel
  • assign and share tasks relevant to the points discussed
  • share generated content with board members

The Minutes Builder feature in board portals integrates all of these aspects. Using that feature, it’s easy to shape your minutes around the meeting agenda. After that, using other tools available, you can format a clean and smart-looking minutes, incorporate notes taken during the meeting and share the minute with other members for approval or signatures. 

Finally, you can export the minutes into a DOC or PDF file for sharing with anyone not included in the portal or saving it for the company records.

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Knowing how to write efficient minutes is a valuable skill in the context of any corporation. While doing so may not always be an easy task, you will find you can improve your minutes significantly by following the guidelines above and streamlining your work with the use of effective board management software.