Recording Meeting Minutes
The purpose of meeting minutes is to have a record of what actions were taken at a meeting and to allow those who were absent and those who have a legitimate interest in the meeting to learn what took place.
Meeting minutes must be a brief, objective, and pertinent record of a meeting, and this is not always quite as simple as it may sound. A poor recorder, or recording secretary, may leave out important information or misconstrue remarks so that they do not reflect the intent of a speaker. For the sake of accuracy, members may request that minutes be read back to them, and the recording secretary should ask for clarification during a meeting if necessary.
Essential content for minutes includes the date and time of the meeting and the persons who attended, noting who chaired the meeting and who acted as recording secretary. The purpose of the meeting should be stated: for example, monthly social committee meeting. The person recording the meeting should refer to himself or herself by name in the third person.
A meeting should have an agenda, and the recorder should have access to that before the meeting. The order of the minutes should match the agenda.
The first agenda item of a meeting is the reading of the minutes of the previous meeting. Persons attending may approve the minutes or request changes. Note in the minutes if any changes were made to the minutes of the previous meeting. Approval of the minutes makes them official. The recorder signs, marks “approved,” dates, and files the approved minutes.
The minutes should mention each agenda item and outcome, such as motions or resolutions, focusing on actions that have been taken and not discussions as such. Next, new business, the date and time of the next meeting, and items held over for the next meeting are included in the minutes.
Write Up Minutes
After the meeting has adjourned, write up the minutes as soon as possible while your mind is fresh. Have the meeting chair proofread your notes before you post them on the web or photocopy them for members. Attach to the minutes copies of any documents handed out at the meeting.
A committee can make its own rules for minutes—formal or informal, or modify the Robert's Rules, which are rather inflexible. See also Robert's Rules of Order for detailed information about recording minutes. An online version is available at www.rulesonline.com.
Motion— A motion is a proposal for action. A motion is commonly expressed in one of the following two ways: I move that . . .. or I make a motion that . . ..
Quorum—The number of persons who must be in attendance at a meeting in order for the meeting to take place or for a decision to be binding. A quorum is often a majority of persons who are required or permitted to attend a meeting.
Resolution— While a motion is a proposal, a resolution is a record of a decision that was made, usually as the result of majority vote in favor of a motion.
To Second a Motion— A motion, or formal proposal at a meeting, is seconded when another member at a meeting expresses support for a motion. “I second the motion” is the expression to use to indicate support for a motion.
Verbatim— Verbatim is an adjective that describes words recorded exactly how they were originally expressed. Motions at a meeting are recorded verbatim.